While I was on retreat, we celebrated the feast of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More.
One prayer for this feast, taken from the modern Liturgy of the Hours, says:
Father, you confirm the true faith with the crown of martyrdom. May the prayers of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More give us the courage to proclaim our faith by the witness of our lives.
Given our current troubled times – and especially now that “gay marriage” has been legalized – I find this prayer more meaningful than I would have a year ago…even a month ago! Already we are seeing Christians who are suffering because of their willingness to proclaim their faith by the witness of their lives: bakers, for instance, who are fined for their refusal to bake a cake for a gay wedding, and forbidden to express their opinion. Other business owners have met the same fate, and these were all before the Supreme Court made its ill-advised decision. The power of the homosexualist movement to silence the moral outrage of God-fearing people has been incredible. Now with the weight of the law on their side, they will continue to persecute those speak out against the sin of sodomy.
I think that the story of St. Thomas More can bring the reality of persecution home to us effectively because the culture in which he and St. John Fisher were persecuted was more similar to ours that the culture of the poor Christians in Syria and Iraq. We see the evidence of the beheadings and other heinous tortures, but there is a huge distance between us and them, both geographically and culturally. There is a huge distance of time between us and Thomas More and John Fisher, but culturally, they are quite near to us. Of course, they were beheaded, too, and maybe that fact will make more of an impression on us now that our cultural milieu mirrors theirs, with persecution of Catholics and other Christians already visible in terms of financial burdens. Will it come to death for those who oppose the normalization of sodomy? Personally, I consider it to be in the realm of possibility in the not-too-distant future. It could surely be that it will come to imprisonment for "dissenters".
But we should not fear. Thomas More, knowing that his death was imminent, wrote to his daughter the following:
I will not mistrust [God], Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to him for help…
…And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may see, it shall indeed be the best.
Like Esther the Old Testament, who saved her people from the evil will of one man, we should remember that it is quite likely that God has put us here, now, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves as far as defending the faith, “for such a time as this.”
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.
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