On this day when we in the U.S.A. celebrate Independence Day and freedom, my thoughts turn to the decreasing freedom that I and other Christians now have for expressing and living by our beliefs that are different from worldly ideas.
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court made a legal ruling about a moral issue, legalizing same-sex marriages. It opened the door wide for increasing a culture of moral relativism and prejudice against Catholics and other Christians who choose to live by what the Bible teaches.
One of the first to walk (or rather, rush) through that door was the U.S. Episcopal General Convention (Episcopalian bishops, priests, and laity), which voted overwhelmingly to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples. The United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) also allow it.
The contrast is increasing between those who understand and therefore believe the Catholic Church’s stand on marriage as between one woman and one man, and those who prefer to agree with the world’s idea that same-sex marriage is morally, spiritually and emotionally healthy.
The Christian Church has always been counter-cultural. Catholicism, which began with the first Apostles, is now more counter-cultural than any of us have seen before — not because the Church has changed but because we have the security of the deposit of faith, which goes back to the days when our Lord walked in this world teaching the faith.
So, now we are persecuted. We are labeled as immoral and hateful because we profess that only a marriage between one man and one woman can be a valid marriage. We are hated for our beliefs by those who do not want to be hated for their beliefs — because they do not understand that we do not hate them but we love them and we want what’s best for them.
And this is what we must convey: We love them and we want what’s best for them, which is not necessarily what they have settled for as “best”, because something important is missing and they don’t realize it’s missing. But how can we do this if they do not want to hear the truth?
We are called to stand up for Christ and serve with Christ to knock down the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18, “the gates of hell will not prevail”) to rescue those trapped within the lies and false teachings of the devil. We commit a terrible sin of omission if we do not do this. The paradox here, though, is that if we appear to be fighters, those who disagree with us will fight back and remain closed to the truth.
Learning from the legalization of abortion, one thing is clear about strategy: The battle does not belong in the courts. Victory is won by evangelizing one person, one soul, one heart at a time. As a child, I was raised to believe that abortion is a woman’s right to choose. In 1977, after I was evangelized by Catholics in the context of the Charismatic Renewal, I discovered the truth about the Eucharist and embraced this supernatural union with Christ. At the same time, I gained a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, who (as Jesus promised in John 14:26) corrected my thinking about abortion and other lies that I had believed.
Our strategy to win the fight against the true enemy (Ephesians 6:12, “not flesh and blood but evil spirits”) should begin with a daily prayer like this:
Come Holy Spirit! Renew our world and start with me. Renew us so we may come alive in the Truth, for You, O Holy Spirit of Christ, are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Come Holy Spirit! Only through You will the errors of our age be replaced with holy love. (This prayer can be downloaded from the graphic above.)
We have a lot of work to do to spread interest in being renewed and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. For a season, it’s going to become more difficult to be counter-cultural. We will be increasingly persecuted. People who are energized by the victories of the same-sex marriage movement will increasingly demand that we comply with their ideas about what is right and wrong, good and evil. They don’t want us to disagree with them or to believe differently than they do, because this threatens them. Deep down in their spirits, where they were made in the image of God, they instinctively know that they are disagreeing with God, and they want to shut out all voices that resonate with that inner awareness.
God’s plan for marriage is the loving union of one man with one woman for life and to multiply that love by giving life to children and raising them in the truth. When we are persecuted for believing this, we can find much comfort and courage in the words of Pope Francis, from his homily on June 28, 2015:
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly Kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:18). God does not take his children out of the world or away from evil but he does grant them strength to prevail. Only the one who believes can truly say: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” (Psalm 23:1).
How many forces in the course of history have tried, and still do, to destroy the Church, from without as well as within, but they themselves are destroyed and the Church remains alive and fruitful! She remains inexplicably solid, so that, as Saint Paul says, she may acclaim: “To him be glory for ever and ever” (2 Timothy 4:18).
Everything passes, only God remains. Indeed, kingdoms, peoples, cultures, nations, ideologies, powers have passed, but the Church, founded on Christ, notwithstanding the many storms and our many sins, remains ever faithful to the deposit of faith shown in service; for the Church does not belong to Popes, bishops, priests, nor the lay faithful; the Church in every moment belongs solely to Christ. Only the one who lives in Christ promotes and defends the Church by holiness of life, after the example of Peter and Paul.”
At Good News Ministries, we are committed to supporting marriages in the Christ-centered, Spirit-filled way of the Catholic Church. But we cannot do it alone. Will you help us do it? We need on-going funding to support staff and project development. Any support you give will make a difference. Please visit gnm.org/donate/
“If you have great wealth, give alms out of your abundance; if you have but little, do not be afraid to give alms even of that little. You will be storing up a goodly treasure for yourself against the day of adversity. For almsgiving delivers from death and keeps one from entering into Darkness. Almsgiving is a worthy offering in the sight of the Most High for all who practice it.” (Tobit 4:8-11)
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© 2017 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries