Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  Below is the latest post on the blog of the deacon for our parish, Dennis Lohouse.  The link to his blog is here.  I give him full credit as none of these words are mine, but I think his message bears repeating.

"A couple of weeks ago, on a saturday morning as I prepared to preach on religious freedom I felt a sense of calm determination and a sort of warm feeling in the pit of my stomach. This was the feeling one gets during intense prayer in the presence of the Holy Eucharist. I was going to preach on recent events in U.S. Constitutional history, the role of the Federal Government and the First Amendement.

It was on the previous Friday - the first Friday of February - that I began formulating my thoughts on my homily addressing religious freedom and the regulatory intrusions imposed illegally on Catholic Institutions. As I put on a red stole for benediction, red in honor of St. Blase, Bishop and martyr, I began to delve into the gift of martyrdom.

The Red stole of the Martyr

During the spontaneous prayer at the beginning of the service, I began to think in terms of modern day Christian martyrdom. What does it really mean to die for Christ? I had always thought it meant a literal death for my faith. Surely this is true, but my heart tells me that it is far more than this. To die for Christ is to put oneself on the line. It is to stand before the gates of the great cities and proclaim his message, to point to sin and decry it, to write about life “online”, to correct ungodliness when we hear it, to say no to that which is unethical, immoral and against God's law and natural law. It is to engage the logic of evil, with the Spirit of wisdom. It is taking the risk that you will be ridiculed for your absolute belief in the sanctity of life, in a culture that has not but relativistic and convenient beliefs. “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

When we stand before and up to the common culture of the day, we risk all. We hold ourselves up to scorn and dismissal. To the smug smirks of those who believe they are smarter, hipper, cooler, those who are of the elite. We risk being adjudged stupid, or out of sync, or deluded. We will be cast as religious zealots or crazy bible thumping idiots who obviously just do not “get” the modern world. We will be tempted to keep to ourselves lest we be laughed at, or worse, looked at with a jaundiced eye, or investigated or audited.

The powers of darkness have never gone away. There is no end to history. We live in the history of humanity’s struggle with good and evil. A history which encompasses the slaughter of the innocents in the days of Jesus, through the persecutions of the Romans, to the perversions of the Nazis, the killing fields of Cambodia and the purging of Russian Catholics, to the discrimination against religious today. The powers of darkness take many forms. Perhaps a well-intentioned law, or a state sponsored act, or a shift in the culture that glorifies unwed child bearing, and the abominations of abortion and euthanasia.

We must not be co-opted by one political party or another. We must not let ourselves be used and discarded. We must never take our eye off our goals, which are the building of the kingdom of God, the peace of Christ and a culture of life.

Do not, therefore be afraid of social or cultural martyrdom, and do not be afraid to speak out for the innocent, the poor, the weak, the unborn, the sick, and the unwanted. Put yourself in the hands of God, who is ever with you, and stand up, speak up and offer your life for Christ."


Popular Posts