A call for Catholics’ bolder, more outspoken stance for the Gospel rang clear this morning at the 10th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, an event drawing together Catholic clergy, lay leaders, non-profit organizations, and individuals to pray for the nation.
Delivering an invigorating clarion call for unashamed and unwavering public witness for the religious liberty, marriage, and the sanctity of life was special guest, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American ideals and Intuitions at Princeton University.
“The question each of us must face is this: Am I ashamed of the Gospel?,” declared George to a ballroom largely filled with Catholics and some faithful Protestants.
According to George, “We American Catholics who have had it so good, having become comfortable” forget Jesus’ timeless truth that, “If you want to be my disciple, take up my cross and follow me.” George continued, “But there will be no ignoring that truth now, my friends.”
There is no denying the increasing hardships Christians face at home and abroad, all for placing their faith in Jesus Christ. “Powerful forces and currents in our society press us to be ashamed of the gospel,” said George. “Ashamed of our faith’s teaching on the sanctity of human life and all stages and condition. Ashamed of our faith’s teaching on marriage as the union between husband and wife.”
“There are costs to discipleship. Heavy costs,” explained George. “To be a witness to the Gospel today, my friends, is to make one’s self a marked man or woman. It is to expose one’s self to scorn and reproach. To unashamedly proclaim the Gospel in its fullness is to place in jeopardy one’s security, one’s professional aspirations and ambitions … ones’ standing in polite society.”
“There was a time not long ago when things were quite different. When we could be comfortable Catholics.” George continued, “But those days my friends are gone. They are not coming back anytime soon.”
Drawing a striking comparison between the Jews’ acceptance and subsequent crucifixion of Jesus to America’s changing attitude towards Christ. George explained, “You see, for us and for our faithful evangelical friends, it is now Good Friday. The memory of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jesus into Jerusalem has faded.” He continued, “Yes [Jesus] had been greeted not long ago by throngs of people…shouting Hosanna to the Son of David. [Similarly,] Jesus rode into the Jerusalem of Europe and the Jerusalem of the Americas and was proclaimed Lord and King.”
“In those days it was comfortable to be a Catholic. But those days are gone. Friday is coming. Friday is here. The love affair with Jesus and his Gospel is over,” said George, “The America’s no longer welcome his message. Away with him they say. Give us Barabbas.”
“Oh things were easy during those Palm Sunday days,” said George. “But now it’s Friday and the days of acceptable Christianity are over.” Willingness to stand publicly for Christ when it is culturally unacceptable and perhaps unforgivable, according to the professor, is inevitable.
“Jesus is before Pilot. The crowds are shouting ‘crucify him.’ Where are we?,” asked George.
“Where are you and I? Are we afraid to be known as his disciples? Are we ashamed of the gospel?
Will we seek to fit in, to be accepted, to live comfortably?”
Now is not the time to hid our witness to the gospel, . Most assuredly Christians — Catholics and Protestants alike— will face persecution from the elites of secular society for our faith. Ignore the intimidation tactics, encouraged George.
“They tell us we are on the wrong side of history,” said George. “History is not our judge. God is our Judge.”
Just MHO but it's time to fish or cut bait. For several years now I've been hearing various prominent clerics say we're headed towards tough times as concerns being Catholic. They can't all be wearing tinfoil hats, nor do they all drink the Kool Aid supplied by fear mongering websites and radio shows. IMHO the handwriting is on the wall. Proof positive was evident in an episode of a daytime talk show ("The View"?) where Dear Leader very nonchalantly told the hosts that when it came to ObamaCare and it's funding, religious denominations would follow the law of the land. His statement was to the effect that "On the street what I say goes, inside their buildings they can determine how their church services run."
Its nowhere near exactly what he said, but the overall gist is the same.
Nor do I believe that should a Republican be elected in 2016 we'll be out of the woods on this. There are far too many people who feel somewhat the same way as our Chief Executive.
For too long we have placed how our Faith separates us from our fellow Americans on the back burner. Ecumenicalism is all very nice, gives a warm feeling when we all go along to get along. That attitude has gone on for decades now and to tell the truth, there was a real need for it not too long ago. In my own youth (50's and 60's) there were still cultural echoes from when Catholics were viewed very strongly as perpetual outsiders. We followed strange dietary rules, felt most folks other than ourselves were headed for Hell, proudly attended religious services held in a language not our own and in large part kept to ourselves. We were isolated from the world at large and to some degree from each other.
Like it or not, Vatican II helped change that. It needed changing. Yep, lots of abuses have been committed in the name of reform. Only idiots deny that. But the reform was needed.
One of the unintended consequences was the encouragement of a relativist mentality that sees no real difference between the Faith and it's Protestant children. Too bad, we DO possess the fullness of the Truth. If you're going to follow Jesus you should go with the best and accept no substitutes. End of story.
Too many of our fellow fisheaters have forgotten that. On the flip side of the coin, too many want to return to an isolationist mentality where we view with disdain non Catholics, priding ourselves as belonging to the One True Faith. May the Lord help them see the error of that! For we know that from those to whom much is given much will be expected. We should have a good dose of fear about that, holding ourselves to a higher standard of humility, love, forgiveness and all other professed Catholic virtues.
That higher standard requires us to boldly step out into the public eye, proclaiming our knowledge that much accepted behavior is unequivocally wrong. Remembering that those who deny Christ in this life will be denied by Him in the next; we should speak out the truth and accept all temporal consequences. In our growing culture of intellectual conformity that will undoubtedly lead to outright persecution. Yet we are called to endure it. No ifs, ands, buts or maybes.
Face it, the nation we knew as the USA is dead. Catholics need to uncouple themselves from the American centered thinking we've had for so long. Our country will soon disown us, the best we can do for it is live by the teachings of our Church. In the short run we'll be persecuted, but there may yet be a positive outcome for America if we hold fast. Even if that doesn't happen we need to follow Christ, remembering His promise that as He was persecuted so will His followers be.
God's will be done and may He have mercy upon us all.