I had the grace of leading my parish (and many others Brooklynites) on a pilgrimage to Washington D.C. for the 39th Annual March for Life. Preceding the pilgrimage, on Friday the Obama Administration took another swing at the Gospel of Life by removing certain protection in his healthcare plan. Religious institutions have one year to comply with a law that requires them to provide contraception and abortion pills for their employees. The Catholic Church has always opposed contraception and abortion as unworthy of our dignity as humans. This administration and many of its allies in the pro-abortion camp are more and more frequently pushing the Catholic Church in America into a corner.
Thankfully, as the March in Washington proved, more and more people are waking up to the injustice of abortion, the indignity of contraception, and the tragedy of assisted suicide. More and more young people are waking up to the insurgencies waged against the Catholic Church from every side.
On a recent retreat I had the pleasure of reading St. John-Marie Baptiste Vianney’s
biography by Abbe Francois Trochu. St. Jean-Marie grew up under the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution when the Faith was persecuted if it did not conform to the secularist views of the revolutionaries. Priest were murdered and families terrorized for remaining faithful. One passage from Trochu’s book is harrowing:
“From that moment the Vianneys ceased to attend the parish church, though it held for them so many tender associations…In point of fact, the sacred edifice was soon closed altogether. A cruel persecution was now raging. Priests who refused the oath ran the risk of arrest and
execution, without the possibility of an appeal–within twenty-four hours. A reward of 100 livres (100 francs) was paid to anyone denouncing the proscribed, whereas deportation was the punishment of all persons harboring a priest.”
Why such harsh treatment of the priest among all other professions? Because the priesthood is not a profession. It is a vocation –a call to speak the Truth, that Truth who is Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for the salvation of the world, that Truth who calls men after Himself to be crucified (by the media, by their enemies, by Satan himself) in order to be united with Christ in saving the world from absolute certain catastrophe, that Truth who refuses to be compromised despite opinion polls and electoral results. The priesthood is a vocation to love as Christ loves: compassionate yet also firm, consoling yet also corrective.
The present administration will force priests and Catholics altogether to examine whether they are willing to be crucified for Christ for the faith we have received for two thousand years.
This summer’s World Youth Day theme was “Firm in the Faith,” a reference to St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians. In full, St. Paul writes “So, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ” Col 2:6-8.
How appropriate that passage is to these times!
Thankfully we have bold and insightful bishops molding their priests and training their people for the coming conflicts. Free from all parties to criticize all parties, our bishops tackle every issue where humanity is concerned because Christ is the center and saviour of humanity. this means that He is the saviour of every aspect of humanity: of economics, of immigration, of sexuality, of conscience, of life’s beginning and of life’s end.
Our own Bishop DiMarzio had continued to share his opinion on poignant and pressing issues. This passed week, Archbishop Dolan (who is soon to be Cardinal Dolan) had articles in the Daily News and the Wall Street Journal. And Cardinal O’Malley of Boston faces the challenge of a terrible ballot referendum in Massachusetts.
Even our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has weighed in on the threats facing Catholics in America. Click on the links above for powerful opinions, critiques, correctives, and even castigation from some of our country’s shepherds, the bishops. Inform yourself, your family, and even your priest (if he is unaware) about the present and coming battles.
And, as always, continue to pray for more priests who, under the zeal and teaching of our bishops, will spur our efforts to win the battle for souls to the glory of the Lord of Life. May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of priests, intercede for her men at the foot of the Cross.