Saturday, May 23, 2015

Snakes Return to the Emerald Isle

As a history teacher I am fond of pointing out to my classes examples of how the Evil One working with his compatriots have attempted to drive Catholicism from the public sphere and out of existence altogether. The Body of Christ is still here, but that doesn't mean that the historically ignorant will not continue trying.

Catholics have Our Lord’s promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail over the Church. But the hellish gates always want another crack at the Church.

Let’s start with the Roman Empire - not content with the crucifixion of Christ, they persecuted and killed his disciples for hundreds of years. Emperors came and went and all sorts of policies and goals changed but one thing they all had in common was that they all seemed to think killing and persecuting Catholics was a good thing. The more the Church was persecuted, the more people wanted to know what the Church was about. The blood of the martyrs was seed for the faith.

As the saying goes, if you cannot beat them, join them, Thus the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. The Roman Empire was not long for the world, but the Church survived.

Of course Mass attenders know the story of Saul Paulus of Tarsus, who approved of the killing of Stephen, martyr #1, and then went from house to house arresting partisans of Christ and sending them to prison. That is until a light from heaven flashed around him, he fell to the ground and heard a voice, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul next went blind, got healed, and then became Paul, the apostle.

In 1517 came Dr. Luther and the Protestant Reformation—the Lutherans soon divided, and the divisions divided, and now there are over 30,000 divisions or denominations, and the One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church still stands. Divide et impera???

Ah, Islam! For centuries some champions of Islam have also sought to destroy the Church, opting in the 16th century for an all-out confrontation. As a result, on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Church celebrates the victory at Lepanto, the battle that saved the Christian West from defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.
During the godless French Revolution the attempted dechristianization of France had as its goal the erasure of the Church. The French attempt to destroy the Church included appropriation of Church lands, obliteration of statues and crosses, and making all priests and all those who hid them susceptible to death. In 1794 Maximillian Robespierre introduced the Cult of the Supreme Being as the replacement state religion, hoping its acknowledgement of some form of deity would foster moral behavior. Unfortunately Robespierre was guillotined in 1794. The Church stayed on.

China - The government of China has long persecuted the Catholic Church by destroying Churches, removing crosses, and arresting or simply "disappearing" Christians. After years of murderous persecution there are still millions of Catholics, and the number is increasing.

The New York Times once raised the question, "Is Anti-Catholicism Dead?" and printed a full-page ad against the Church in response to her refusal to take part in the sexual revolution. How is the paper that prints all fitting news performing? The Times laid off 21 workers just last year and offered early retirement to about 80 others, as the Church blossoms all around the globe.

Today in the Middle East we witness radical Islamic terrorists revisiting their kill-every-Christian-they-can-find tactics. The world has essentially remained silent, but the Church still stands as the lone voice in opposition, continuing to spread Our Lord’s message throughout the world. Recent events in the Emerald Isle seem ignorant of history’s lesson to those who wish to destroy the Catholic Church--Hit me with your best shot.