Thursday, November 20, 2008

When you think things are bad here in America....

But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10a)

With so much dire economic and anti-life news filling the air, it's easy to feel depressed. We need to keep some things in mind...

The thought that babies are murdered at any stage of development, is maddening to me. It's barbaric and reflective of an uncivilized people. As I continue to work and pray for an end to the silent, hidden slaughter with many of you, I try to keep something simple in mind: As much as I love those babies, God loves them more than I ever could. I don't have nearly the capacity to love the unborn as does God, the author of life. Further, God's love is unconditional. Hence, he loves the abortive mother and father, as well as the abortionist. It is in this light that we pray and make sacrifices in our lives for the God-pleasing conversion of these people.

In the history of the Church, there have been atrocities committed by rulers. The hunt for the Christ child involved the murder of the Holy Innocents. One of the greatest persecutors of the early Church was Diocletian (245-313 AD). From the online Catholic Encyclopedia:

Three further edicts (303-304) marked successive stages in the severity of the persecution: the first ordering that the bishops, presbyters, and deacons should be imprisoned; the second that they should be tortured and compelled by every means to sacrifice; the third including the laity as well as the clergy. The atrocious cruelty with which these edicts were enforced, and the vast numbers of those who suffered for the Faith are attested by Eusebius and the Acts of the Martyrs. We read even of the massacre of the whole population of a town because they declared themselves Christians (Eusebius, loc. cit., xi, xii; Lactant., "Div. Instit.", V, xi).

There is nothing that can happen to me that God does not either will, or permit. How I respond is what matters. Our Lord led by example, shows us that life is not simply made up of Christmas and Easter, but the way of the Cross, as well.

Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Phil 3:17-20)

Merely accepting the pain of comprehending the evil of something like abortion is something that can be offered up as a sacrifice along with our prayers. God is "consoled" when we accept the suffering that comes to us - physical, emotional, and spiritual - when we unite it with His suffering. It is one of the many crosses we can bear because Evil has been with us since the beginning of time.

On the economic front, we see layoffs happening daily and companies collapsing left and right. People are rightfully conserving cash because they don't know if they will have a job tomorrow and it is resulting in more lost jobs. But, I go back to point one: There is nothing that can happen to me without God's willing it, or permitting it.

It could be that God will call some of us to the loss of job and home, and into deep hardship. How will we respond? We can mourn the loss of things like cable and internet, as well as new clothes and insurance-paid doctor visits and prescriptions. We can loath the thought of buying cheaper grades of food, used clothes, and passing time by reading books and playing board games. Somehow, I wonder if God doesn't have lessons for us to learn through such things. The "good life" is not a prerequisite for getting into heaven. In fact, the opposite may be true as it is easier to become lukewarm in the faith amidst material comfort.

My thoughts turn to the kind of reality lived by our suffering brothers and sisters around the world on a dialy basis for years - people struggling to survive not only the heavy cross given them, but life itself.

If things are bad enough to get you down today, please read some of these articles. They are not meant to depress you further, but to show that as bad as we have it, someone else has it far worse. It is only by the grace of God that we are not in their shoes. Spend some time thanking God for the many blessings that you do have. As you will see, suffering for the sake of Christ is still endured by Christians today. We may lose our jobs and our homes, but we can still practice our faith without the level of persecution experienced by others. Therefore, endure all for the sake of Christ. Offer up the suffering in reparation for the offenses to God happening around the world - seen, and unseen.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!