Last night, I attended a birthday dinner for a friend. All but one of the guests were Catholic, the one being a Calvinist. At one point in our after-dinner conversation, he asked, “What will the Catholic Church do about the HHS Mandate?” The flurry of replies basically boiled down to the idea that the Catholic Church would not comply and would close their institutions before submitting to such mandates.
This conversation prompted a thought in my brain and I began to ponder all the persecutions which the Church has endured. this persecution is nothing new, and is exceptionally tame compared to past persecutions. Heck, the Church was promulgated by the blood of martyrs! The first books of the New Testament, the recorded history of our new Church tells of the persecution of Jesus, his Apostles and many disciples, with St. Stephen being the first known martyr for Christ. St. Paul made a career of persecuting Christians. Later, Paul converted and was imprisoned, beaten, stoned nearly to death, and was eventually beheaded.
I’m certainly no historian or expert in Church history, so I won’t pretend to ramble on topics about which I know nothing. New Advent has a great list of persecutions against the Church since its inception, with an amazing amount of detail for your enjoyment.
- The Roman Persecutions
- Julian the Apostate
- The Goths
- The Lombards
- The Vandals
- The Mohammedans (Muslims)
- The Iconoclasts
In my short lifetime, there have been a great number of persecutions in more localized places around the world. Catholics are persecuted thusly:
- Any country in which Islam is a large portion of the population (Egypt, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia…)
- by Hindus in India
- The Chinese government
- The North Korean Government
Even though our Church faces persecution in the United States, this is par for the course worldwide throughout the entire history of the Catholic Church. American Catholics have faced soft persecution for decades by proponents of the pro-homosexual activity and “pro-choice” agenda, and now we face greater persecution by the President and his administration.
I know I’ve illustrated what seems like a rather dire warning against becoming Catholic, but in fact time has proven the opposite. The faith flourishes during times of persecution, saints emerge, and resolve is strengthened. It is becoming less comfortable and more difficult to openly declare the faith, but these are the makings of saints. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mt 19:24) The same is true for comfortable Catholics. When we’re fat and happy and take no risk by living our faith, we tend to become complacent. Remember all those who have gone before us who too endured persecution, including St. John Vianney, St. Joan of Arc, St. Sebastian, St. Lawrence, and thousands more. Sainthood is not unlike a lump of coal. It takes a lot of pressure to produce either.