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Preparing for Persecution 

A year ago I was preparing myself to vote for whomever the Republican Party nominated for president for the first time in my life. I was apprehensive about it, because on many issues I lean Democrat, on many issues of great importance to me. However, the issues of the highest importance, abortion and euthanasia, I lean Rebuplican. 

And so, it seemed the good Catholic thing to do was to vote with the party that upheld those most important issues. Besides, it’s not like Donald Trump was actually going to be nominated. 

So, I watched primary debates and threw my support behind Marco Rubio from the jump. He was not perfect, and I disagreed with him on many big issues. But, he was smart, he was a strong leader, he upheld the non-negotiables, I even appreciated his position on immigration, and he truly believed in the dignity of the human person. I could live with President Marco Rubio. 

But, Trump didn’t go away. His bafoon-ish antics garnered more support. And, even more troubling, he brought out the underbelly of America. He gave legitimacy to racists and misogynists. He displayed no real concern for human dignity. He pandered to the Christian right and unbelievably, they ate it up. 

I prayed for Marco to stay in the race, that some miracle my fall upon the RNC and he might win the nomination. Or, John Kasich, or even Ted Cruz. I would have voted for Ted Cruz with hardly a second thought. And then, I even hoped that someone the RNC might revolt and nominate Paul Ryan. Amanda from 4 years ago would roll over in her grave to hear present-day Amanda beg to vote for Paul Ryan.  

None of that happened. In the end, both Trump and Clinton were nominated and thus they became the two most unfavorable candidates to ever run. And that doesn’t surprise me.

You know what does surprise me–and maybe it shouldn’t–the citizens of this country surprise me. Most especially my fellow Christians, my fellow Catholics. To an extent, I can almost understand holding your nose and voting for Trump. Almost. I respect that you’re concerned for the Sanctity of Life and choose to take him at his word, and Clinton and hers, and in doing so have concluded Trump is more prolife. I disagree, but respect your conclusion and I respect that decision was a difficult one. Because it’s not particularly difficult to be more prolife than Clinton. 

I respect if you are a staunch Republican and you believe the GOP best represents subsidiarity and you have reasoned that by voting for Trump you are not voting for him, but for the party. Again, I disagree with you, but I can respect that.

But, I don’t understand the outright support for him. I don’t understand the idols so many have made of him. I don’t understand the attempts to bully someone into violating their conscience because their prayerful decision didn’t match yours. 

Most of all don’t understand the hope that many have placed in the hands of this man (or in Clinton for that matter). He may think he is our savior, and that should be any Christians first sign to run. Because he seeks only his own exaltation. And, when Christians throw their support for a man that so clearly embodies characteristics of Satan, well–the writing is on the wall.

Regardless of who wins tonight, if you are a Christian, be prepared for persecution. It’s either going to come from the enemy you’ve known and been fighting, or from the enemy you brought into your homes like idols. If Trump wins we have turned on ourselves. We’ve begged God for a king and he gave us the one we deserved. 

I truly don’t believe the Republican party is a home for Christians anymore, not if Trump wins and the GOP of Trump carries forward. If that is the case than there is no political home Christians. And, maybe we needed that. Because regardless of who wins tonight, Christ is King. 

Perhaps this is what then Cardinal Ratzinger prophesied of in 1969:

The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.

She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….

It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

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