In The Not Too Distant Future…

Rosary

A conversation in the not too distant future…

“Who was the man in the black suit sitting behind Father Miguel during Mass this morning?”  Chris asked his father as they drove away from the parish.

He caught his wife’s worried look and quick nod before he answered his 13 year old son.  “Well Chris, the National Department of Religion – you may have heard mom and I discussing this – has declared that effective immediately all religious groups must have one of their officials present during any kind of religious service.  They are supposed to make sure nothing is said which will offend other groups or go against the new national laws on marriage, restricted worship and discussing God in public.  We have been protecting you from the worst of the news, but…we think it is time you know the truth.”

“Dad, I don’t understand.  How can anyone think our Catholic faith is breaking the law?  I mean, we are the ones who are always defending life, upholding the sanctity of marriage and serving the poor.  Aren’t those good things?”

“I know this is tough.  I have difficulty even saying it.  But, over the last few years the attacks on the Catholic Church by the government and anti-religious groups began to escalate and grow worse.  Other faiths have suffered too during this very difficult time.

Chris, every Catholic I know is in a state of shock these days, but this didn’t happen overnight.  Several years ago the government imposed a new universal health care law on the U.S. which included something called the HHS Mandate.  This mandate forced all Catholic employers, including Catholic hospitals, Catholic non-profits and businesses run by faithful Catholics to offer contraception and abortion coverage to their employees in direct conflict with the teachings of our faith.  There was a significant fight to prevent this from happening, but ultimately the Supreme Court upheld this new law.

In the years which followed, emboldened by their victory with the HHS Mandate, the government began pursuing an increasingly anti-religion agenda and pushed to remove faith from the public square.  The next big blow to fall was against faith-based charities as their tax exemption status was removed and the government has now become the source of almost all charitable assistance in this country.   Predictably, they usually favor the groups who support their political agenda.  All faiths have suffered persecution, but because of the Church’s longstanding opposition to the government’s attempts to redefine marriage, promote unrestricted access to contraception and abortion and countless other issues, we have been singled out and seem to be receiving the worst of the attacks.”

The look of shock on Chris’s face telegraphed clearly how he was receiving this news from his father.  “Is that why we have the National Department of Religion? What will happen next?”

“We’re not exactly sure Chris, but the NDR is increasingly removing the last vestiges of religious freedom in our country.  It would appear that what some of us feared years ago is coming true: The government is determined to replace God in our lives.  There are still voices speaking up.  Our bishops and priests are trying to fight back and many have been arrested.  The Holy Father has called for prayer and active resistance from American Catholics, but I worry that we have gone too far down this path to turn back.”

Chris’s mother grabbed her son’s hand and asked him to look into her eyes.  “Chris, we love you and Christ loves you.  You know that, right?  We are going to face difficult times ahead of us and we have to stay strong and have faith in Christ and His Church.  The government would be happy if everyone abandoned their churches, synagogues and mosques and looked to them for all the answers, but this is something we will never do.  Do you understand?”

“Mom, I do understand.   I guess I am just wondering how we got into this situation.”

“Chris, your father and I often talk about the same thing.  We can look back over these last decades and see how we got so badly off course in this country.  Slowly but surely the traditional family began to disintegrate as marriage was redefined and devalued at every turn.  Easy access to contraception and unrestricted access to abortion and unrestrained materialism have had a profound effect on our generation.  People have become increasingly self-involved, greedy and selfish as we have made false idols out of the things of this world versus focusing on the good things promised us in Heaven.  As a consequence, we have grown increasingly distant from God and apathetic about faith.  Our apathy and lukewarmness have led us to be silent in the face of this growing tyranny and injustice when we should have been speaking up and taking action to prevent it.

The answer is not easy and we have to pray for courage, humility and strength.  We will remain committed to Christ and His Church and that will involve hardship…even suffering.  We have a pretty clear choice: We can choose Hell or Heaven.  Hell is the easy path and it only requires us to turn our backs on Christ and all that we know to be good and true.  It means giving the government what it wants which is devotion and loyalty to them instead of God.  Or, we can choose Heaven.  We can love and serve our Lord and remember the incredible sacrifice He made for us on the Cross.  People who have chosen evil over good will make fun of us and our lives will be challenging, but there is no doubt our family will pursue Heaven with the strength of the Holy Spirit to help us.”

Chris looked at his parents for what seemed like an eternity before saying in a low voice, “Can we pray right now for strength and courage?  We need all the help we can get if we are going to make it through the tough times ahead and help the Church survive.  I don’t know anything else to do…except pray.”

Chris’s father quickly pulled over into a shopping center, parked the car and pulled out his Rosary.  His wife and son pulled out theirs as well and they all made the sign of the cross.  “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth…”

The End…or maybe a future not yet written in stone

Questions for Self-Reflection:

  • Does this scenario seem possible?  Why or why not?
  • Am I apathetic or lukewarm at times in the practice of my Catholic faith?
  • Have I, through my actions or inaction, contributed to a possible future like the one in this story?
  • Are there things I need to do (or stop doing) in order to protect our Catholic identity?
  • Am I willing to suffer for Christ and my faith?

Randy Hain, Senior Editor and co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was released by Liguori Publications. The Catholic Briefcase was voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards.

Randy Hain’s exciting new book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith was  released by Liguori Publications in November, 2012. Along the Way was recently named Runner-Up in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Catholic Book of 2012. Learn more here. His third book, Something More: A Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life, was released in February, 2013. All of Randy Hain’s books can also be purchased at your local Catholic bookstore, Amazon or www.liguori.org.

Looking for a Catholic Speaker? Check out Randy’s speaker’s page and the rest of the ICL Speaker’s Bureau.


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29 Comments

    1. Arms is not the approach Our Lord would support. If it was, He would not have admonished Peter for brandishing his sword. Our Lord would want us to pray and always do the right thing. We would be called to peacefully disobey those laws which were sinful.

      1. That is not active resistance. If we start by peacefully disobeying those laws which were sinful, we could expect the police and the enforcement agencies to come and arrest us. If we resisted in arms, they themselves alone would – as evildoers – be to blame if they or anyone else were killed. Of course, it would be preferable for virtuous men in the armed forces to overthrow an evil government, as they could do it with comparatively little bloodshed and with the best-founded hope of success.

        The context in which Our Lord admonished Peter was that He had undertaken at the Last Supper to dispose of His life to save His people from their sins. Hence He could not approve of anything done to defend Him.

      2. Of course, there was a specific context to that command. Our Lord was about to enter His passion for which He came into the world. Not long before that very command, He also admonished that the time would come to buy a sword. So the admonishment against brandishing could very well have been simply that it was not yet time. It does not mean that time would never come. By the same token, it does not mean that time has arrived. It is a difficult thing to discern, particularly given the slow creeping nature of consolidation of control.

    2. ROFLOL. You can’t even get more than 15% of Catholics to show up for mass on a weekly basis. How are you going to get them to do this? Dream on.

  1. How did it happen??? Because my fellow Catholics have been voting for Godless democrats for too many years rather than face up to the liberal agenda, AND our Rligious Leaders haven’t been doing their job educating the flock. When was the last time you heard a sermon on Church teaching on Contraception or Abortion or the need for regular Confession? (A little difficult at 30 min/week when St. Pio heard confessions 18 hrs/day.)

    1. Unfortunately, the Republican Party, taken as a whole, is not better in any meaningful way. Yeah, they still talk about abortion, but only at fund-raisers; actually ending abortion is not a priority for them, as are issues related to the great god Mammon. Some of them would hate to lose abortion as a wedge; others have already sacrificed the pro-life cause to show how “mature”, “mainstream”, and “civil” they are. Meanwhile, they have destroyed the balance between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches to ensure that we have not a president, but a Fuehrer.

  2. why is the doctrine of a catholic is not biblical;for example=sign of the cross,baptism of the child.the use of rosary,have graven images in the church,purgatory,limbo etc…

    1. I don’t know what church you belong to, but I’d love to know what it teaches about contraception and artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization.

      These activities are forbidden by Catholic teaching because, by them, man takes control of his own fertility. This is nothing other than the power to create a human being.

      Either this power lawfully belongs to God alone, or He is not Lord in any sense in which Scripture says He is.

  3. I will use your service to open my married children’s eyes as to what is going on today to keep GOD out of our lives.

  4. Nobody is ever going to monitor your church services, people. Nobody cares what you say at church – you just can’t bring your religious doctrine into our government. When people resist this injection of Christian doctrine into government, it is not affront to your faith. Do not confuse this as religious persecution because it isn’t. There are many people who do not subscribe to your version of morality (those of other faiths and atheists – all of whom have rights protected by the US Constitution.) So please stop with the hypothetical nonsense about being monitored by the government. You look ridiculous.

    1. “You just can’t bring your religious doctrine into our government.”

      Why? Our religious doctrine is true. Yours is false. Who gave you the right to do what you object to in us?

      1. You’re going to have to prove it with your actions. Shrill yelling is not believable. Too many Catholics yell, “do as I say, not as I do.” No one is fooled.

        1. And too many Catholics say nothing and live the Gospel, and then are ignored or ridiculed for it. I suppose its much easier to focus on the negative in the Church (and really, in all things), and ignore the positive, but that’s pretty much what we in contemporary society manage to do.

    2. There are many people who do not subscribe to your version of morality (those of other faiths and atheists – all of whom have rights protected by the US Constitution.)

      By the very same token, we should be protected in bringing our version of morality to the government. Why should only atheists or non-Christians be allowed to “inject” their morality? If they can garner majority support for their version, so be it. But we have every right to garner a majority for ours.

    3. Flunkytown,

      You are probably right to say that nobody cares what goes on in church. However, you can’t blame this writer for feeling scared.

      After all, a mild persecution is already here: the Affordable Care Act restricts the right of private individuals to enter into contracts, and forces Catholic business owners to pay for abortifacient drugs. Under this law, no Catholic can run a business in good conscience.

      Moreover, if so-called “same sex marriage” is permitted, further restrictions on free speech and free association are likely to follow. This has already happened in other countries.

      It’s not hard for us to envision the de facto repeal of the first amendment to the US Constitution. It will have to happen for these laws to stand.

      1. With the assent of most “Catholics” who voted for Obama. You can’t complain if you had a hand in bringing this about. Well, not at least without being a complete hypocrite.

  5. The fault is our own. It’s not the priests fault alone. Yes they need to stay on message, but the parishioners are Whitney and don’t want to hear all that. It’s easy to blame them, but we also share blame. How often do we stand up for our values or even quietly display them. When was the last rosary you prayed in build, after lunch in the employee lunch area where all can see….? Me neither. When was the last time you said grace at a restaurant….? Me neither. When was the last time casual conversations during lent, for example, centered on your struggle with fasting or abstinence? That I’ve done. But how often do we speak of our faith, wear a crucifix for display or teach a class and go through meeting with ashes on our forehead….that I do. I agree some priests are better than others at staying on message. But I think they cater to parishioners a lot. Tis means if we are at all the holy hours. If we have him over regularly for dinner and we are involved, the pews are filled, he probably would know better how orthodox we are. Bottom line is if we’re doing all we can do by being involved, then it is completely the priests fault. If not, maybe were not living up to our part.

  6. Dear Randy Hain, seriously, thanks for the laughs, this is super hilarious, and the comments section, even funnier. The one about armed uprising, that was good. Good belly laughs for all who read it. Funny statistic, gay marriage is supported by over 52% of catholics. Hard to find new young members when I was at mass two weeks ago and they prayed for money on at least 7 different occasions and now have 2 collection plates. If there is not an enlightenment style awakening in the catholic church, it will die a slow death as all the parishioners will be 50+ years old.

    1. Dear Theotherfrj,

      Thanks for your comments, but I don’t think you have been in many Catholic parishes. I have seen faithful and energetic Catholics all over this country. The point of this story was to fast forward from today and follow the actions taken against the Church to their natural conclusion. I pray none of it happens and I also pray Catholics and people of all faiths will wake up to the fact that we are being persecuted. I agree we need to engage in the New Evangelization and we have a wonderful leader in Pope Francis to guide us. We can rail all we want against what Catholics believe or not believe or who is for or against traditional marriage, but in the end it comes down to you and me. What will we do to set a good example? Will we be the light of Christ to others? Will we authentically live out our faith? Like a pebble in a pond the positive actions of a few can have a positive influence on the many.

      Thanks and God bless.

  7. The only places I find people willing to dialogue on issues affecting our Church is in Catholic blogs, and those are usually anonymous. This is not something I hear at church from the ambo or in conversation after Mass. In fact a quick way to clear a room is to mention the HHS mandate, conscience protection, abortion, or especially same-sex marriage. We just don’t discuss those things. Is this unwillingness to say the truth what happened in Germany before WWII?

  8. Randy:

    Cheer up old friend. I think I can make you feel a bit better in some ways.

    First, the Church has faced much deeper crises than an HHS mandate.

    1) Consider the Apostles after the crucifixtion.
    2) Consider the Roman persecutions of the martyrs. The emperor Nero tarred Christians and then burned them to light his gardens.
    3) Consuder the threats to Christian Europe from Muslims. The made it France in the eighth century and were at the gates of Vienna several times in the 16th through the 18th centuries.
    4) Consider the Sack of Rome in the 16th century by the most Holy Roman Emperor, a Catholic, whose troops desecrated every church and killed many hundreds of priests and killed and raped hundreds of nuns and dumped their bodies in the Tiber.
    5) Consider the tide of the Reformation in the16th century which was stopped at the last moment.
    6) Consider the corruption of many medieval and Rennaissance popes, bishops, and priests with wives and mistresses. And the scandal of multiple popes.
    7) Consider the obliteration of the Church by murder of religious and the confiscation of all Church lands during the French Revolution. Napoleon made two popes effectively his prisoners.
    8) Consider how America in the 19th century persecuted and attacked many Catholics. Churches and convents were burned. Discrimination against the Irish was routine. An immigration bill in 1924 was passed to limit the number of Catholics “diluting” the purity of America.
    9) Hitler wanted to destroy the Church and he imprisoned many Catholic priests and nuns. He had plans to eliminate the Church.The communists almost eliminated the Church in Eastern Europe.

    So there have been many worse moments. Consider that 6 of 9 justices on the Us Supreme Court are Catholic. Both VP candidates were Catholic in 2012. The success of American Catholics in every field and endeavor is unprecedented.

    Still there are things to worry about. And these are not primarily caused by governmental policy. Many young people are dropping out of the Church. There is a big gulf between official Church teaching and the people in the pews. 90 percent of Catholics do not follow Church teaching on contraception. More than two thirds of Catholics attending Church every week would allow exceptions for abortions. Majorities of Catholics do not follow the Church’s teachings on the death penalty, immigration, etc. This gap is not the fault of the government. There has been a loss of trust, of moral efficacy. I suspect the causes here are many and are complex. But I think we, the Church, are responsible to a much greater extent than President Obama. Let us look at ourselves. Let us be honest. Let us reflect on how we can be a better Church and how each of us can be a better Catholic. How can we help others? How can we educate ourselves about our faith better? How can we build a more transparent, loving, caring, giving faith? This is the path to renewal, a renewal that will invite others to join us. I think our new Pope reflects this kind of servant leadership just as St. Francis did. There is always hope because we seek a love that is more powerful than any political solution. The gates of Hell will not prevail against it. This is the promise of our faith whatever the personal weaknesses or failings of politicians, judges, Church leaders, and even ourselves.

    Faith, hope, and love must guide us in the best and the worst of times. We all get down but cheer up. We have Randy Hain and many others energizing our faith.

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