Thursday, May 17, 2012

An excellent example of what martyrdom really means, here and now - Updated 5/24

I saw this both on Facebook and on Fr. Z's WDTPRS.  The original is here. Quite apart from the specific issue of defending traditional marriage, which is of course crucial to a healthy society, this video shows what martyrdom in the United States today really looks like.  Christians who are willing to speak up in public for traditional social values and mores (i.e., in favor of the sanctity and dignity and necessity of life, marriage, children, virtue, and so forth) are being targeted with significant forms of moral violence ("haters," "bigots," etc., and the consequences in loss of friends, loss of jobs or opportunities, etc.), and even physical (as below) violence.  So far, the moral violence far outweighs the physical, but for how long?

This kind of public attitude in favor of forcibly silencing one view, merely because that view is deemed unacceptable by a self-appointed cultural elite, is of one piece with the more formal and deliberate (attempted) attacks on the rights of conscience and the free exercise of religion we're also currently seeing.  Popular intolerance of divergent views justifies and strengthens political attacks on religion; these in turn feed popular resentments, especially by trying to make people committed to God seem intransigent and unreasonable merely for their fidelity.  This kind of cultural/political "feedback loop" is obviously very dangerous, the more so as it becomes more impervious to reason.

For us as clergy (or as future clergy), the challenge is two-fold.  First, we need to cultivate and practice a fidelity to the Church and her teachings, and a courage for the proclamation of the Gospel, that will allow us to be God's true servants even in the face of such a cost.  We do no one a favor by changing or silencing the truths of salvation in Jesus Christ, even when others don't want to hear them.  Second, we need to proclaim the Gospel and defend its truth, without demonizing those who demonize us.  If we engage in similar moral violence, we appear hypocritical and undermine the apostolic mission we are trying to carry out.  Both of these challenges require that we seek deeper prayer, interior life, and union with Christ as our foundation.

Update (5/24) - Another, related, kind of martyrdom: a prohibition on being able to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass with prison inmates.  The story makes it sound like the priest is the primary victim, but in fact, those who are deprived of his priestly service are even more "martyred."

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