O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? Are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain?—if indeed it was in vain. Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you and works mighty deeds among you do so from works of the law or from faith in what you heard?
(Gal 3:1-5) from the Magnificat for Thursday, October 9, 2008
Yesterday I spent an hour praying in front of an abortion facility as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign. A gentleman that was praying with me expressed great frustration that the pro-life movement was not seeing more dramatic results. How can people not see the truth? I feel this frustration at times as well. Today’s first reading shows we are in good company. Do you think St. Paul was a bit exasperated with the Galatians in the passage above?
These can seem like dark days for Catholic Christians. There are dramatic persecutions in China, India, the Middle East, and Africa. Yet in the face of these overt threats, the Church is thriving. More insidious than these physical threats are the ideological persecutions in the West. Through both academic and government institutions, Christians—especially Catholics—are being marginalized. Think about these words of Mark Warner, candidate for the US Senate where he states that the Christian Coalition, Right to Lifers, and homeschoolers are a threat to what it means to be an American. Public schools have become indoctrination camps for anti-Christian agendas. In his ninth grade English class, my son had to defend his belief that human life is more valuable than animal life. The sex education classes promote the idea that there is no such thing as objective truth. One set of sexual mores is as good as another and any attempt to state otherwise is bigoted and unacceptable. In addition, many Catholics are caught up in the materialism of our culture. They close themselves to the gift of life for fear it will lessen their share of the earthly goods pie.
Christ promised us the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. It is important to note that only the Church is guaranteed this protection. Powers and principalities that have their origin in Man do not enjoy such certainty. Any nation that opposes God will suffer. Not that God will send down punitive lightning bolts, though I personally have thought some selective zapping might be in order. Rather, to oppose God is to sin. Living in sin can only lead to sickness, suffering, and death. The glamour of evil may look enticing in the short term, but the tragic consequences cannot be avoided.
As bleak as this sounds, there is no reason to lose hope. As long as I keep my eyes on Heaven and my faith in Christ and His Church, I will be safe. The challenges of today are no greater than the challenges of the Apostles, the early Christians, the Catholics in Elizabethan England, or any others living in an age of persecution. I hope and pray that I will one day see my country embracing a culture of life and God’s natural law. I will not stop working towards that end. But I also know that all things happen in God’s time. The little progress, one soul at a time, may be all I am meant to see at this time. In response to my prayer partner’s frustration I told him that he is the father of three children. While he may want to be part of great legislative victories, his role in this battle may be primarily to raise up pro-life children. For myself, no earthly accomplishment can surpass the feat of adding four faithful soldiers to the Church Militant. So we take our encouragement where we can find it and press on in the face of earthly opposition. Remember the words of Mother Teresa, “We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful."