Father Ed's Blog

A Catholic priest reflects…

When the persecution comes…

One of my favourite Catholic writers is the American professor Antony Esolen. He is a man of deep faith and searing intellect whose grasp of the English language, and appreciation of literature, make him always worth listening to. He recently wrote an excellent article pondering the different responses people tend to have when the church is in crisis. Here is the beginning of the article and a link to it in full.

I know there are plenty of Catholics who are, in one way or another, looking forward to the relentless institutional persecution that is coming our way unless we surrender the One Thing Needful to the secular left, and that is the family-destroying and state-feeding beast called the Sexual Revolution, with its seven heads and ten horns and the harlot squatting atop it. As I see it, these Catholics belong to four groups.

Will you be a persecutor? A quisling? An avenger? Or a soldier? Find out by reading the rest of the article over on Crisis

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8 Comments

  1. David Knowles

    Fr. Ed.,

    Don’t you think that this article relates far more to what the author perceives to be happening in America rather than here? He appears to take one or two swipes at senators and politicians,whom he does not actually name, but identifies nonetheless.
    In the U K legislation does exist, granted, that contradicts Catholic doctrine, and has done so ever since the introduction of divorce. However, whilst certain things are permitted, they are not compulsory! No Catholic is obliged to do anything which he or she considers to be wrong.
    The days when the Church was able to control or even heavily influence state legislation are, rightly or wrongly,over. We live in a multicultural and secular age but, at the same time whether we are Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Bhuddist, Humanist, Agnostic, Atheist or indifferent we are all free to live our own lives.
    Granted, it is not now possible in Catholic schools to actually condemn some lifestyles and actions, it is still possible and quite right to point out that although the state might permit and even protect certain activities, that these are not compatible with Catholic doctrine.
    I still believe that, as long as offensive language is avoided, no one is prevented from stating what their beliefs are and in pointing out what is not compatible with those beliefs.
    As more and more people become indifferent to Christianity and as fewer people have any religious beliefs at all, we, as a minority would not be human if we did not feel uncomfortable at the least and threatened at the most. Equally the majority would not be human if they did not feel irritated by the criticism of the minority.
    These feelings are normal but having to come to terms with living in what is possibly a post Christian age, we would be far better making a bigger effort to proclaim again the Good News rather shouting about persecution. Surely we should be increasing in faith, not in paranoia.

    • Admin

      I think you would need to be blind not to recognise that the assault on the church is bigger than only America, and very much alive here on UK soil.

      • David Knowles

        Perhaps, but what should be the authentic Christian response?
        If we go OTT or even “passive aggressive” what good will that do?
        We will only be playing into the hands of those who would call us bigots and our message will be obscured and distorted.
        Fight the good fight and Onward Christian soldiers is ok up to a point but nothing good came out of the Crusades.
        We are not on the Titanic, we are in the barque of St. Peter and I don’t think that there is anything to be gained by working ourselves up into apocryphal paranoiac hysteria.
        Perhaps we should have faith and ‘keep calm and carry on!’

  2. Tony Hill

    I think Rowan Williams’s beautiful sermon on the 475th anniversary of the Carthusian Martyrs is apt (reachable online for those who haven’t read it). Contemplative love is unassailable and a revival of contemplative religious life is a large part of the answer to an oppressive secular world.

  3. Mary B

    I really don’t want to be partisan here. I can see that reconciliation is very important, that ecumenism is the duty of us all and I do agree that Rowan Williams’ sermon is very fine. However is it only me who finds it just a bit odd that the sermon wad delivered and in these terms by the head of the very institution that these martyrs were murdered for not falling in with?

    I am reminded that some time ago the original altar stone from Byland Abbey was recovered and was reconsecrated in the presence of the Ampleforth community ( I think I have got this right) together with a lot of Anglicans who all made fulsome comments about what a great occasion it was and how wonderful that this altar stone had been restored to sacred use but without expressing any regret at all as to what had originally happened. One of the monks remarked to a friend of mind afterwards that it was all very civilised but if the representatives of the Anglican church hadn’t smashed the altar up in the first place there would have been no need to reinstate it.

    A bit like those High Anglican parishes who celebrate the Forty Martyrs and don’t seem to see any logical disconnect between them doing so as “Catholics without the Pope” i.e the very thing those martyrs died rather than go along with.

    Fr. Ed, as an ex Anglican and now the dust has settled following your entering the Ordinariate, do you have any insights to offer into the way the Anglican mind gets round these inconvenient facts?

  4. Tony Hill

    Mary, I think the fact of Rowan Williams being invited to preach by the Carthusians and the manner in which he did so stand as part of the evidence – as if it were needed – that St. John Houghton and his martyred brethren died in glory and in service of divine providence. Ut unum sint, even at that terrible, violent moment.

    I cannot presume to know anything of the Anglican mind though I think it has produced along the way, and still does, great beauty and holiness despite its unhappy beginnings. Providence again.

    An excess of cleverness lay behind much of it, I always feel, certainly in the High Church side of things. I don’t particularly know why, but the famous and lovely prayer to the Magi which Evelyn Waugh gives to St Helena comes to my mind:

    “You, too, found room before the manger. Your gifts were not exactly needed, but they were accepted and put carefully by, for they were brought through love. In that new order of charity that had just come to life, there was room for you, too. You were not lower in the eyes of the holy family than the ox or the ass.

    You are my special patrons and the patrons of all latecomers, of all who have a tedious journey to make to the truth, of all who are confused with knowledge and speculation, of all who through their politeness make themselves partners in guilt, of all who stand in danger by reason of their talents.

    For His sake, who did not reject your curious gifts, pray always for all the learned, the oblique, the delicate. Let them not quite be forgotten at the throne of God when the simple come into their kingdom.”

    • Thanks Tony and thank you again for reminding me of that lovely passage which I think is in the novel/biography that Waugh wrote about St. Helena? Not read it for years mind but I have always remembered the nickname Helena gave to someone (can’t remember who now) of Chlorus.
      Again to take Waugh evidence there of the grace of God working despite everything. A throughly unpleasant man in just about every way yet capable of such spiritual insights and of writing such luminous prose.

  5. Tony Hill

    Yes, Mary, it’s from the novel which was Waugh’s favourite. Not a very nice man trying to be a good one, as somebody said of Alec Guinness. Moving in itself really.

    As you say, an exhilarating stylist.

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