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From Bed to the Public Square

July 12, AD2013 12 Comments


A few years ago Cardinal Francis George of Chicago made a shocking statement regarding the extent of growing religious persecution in the United States; he said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” When President Obama blames Ireland’s hard-won Catholic schools for creating divisions similar to those that started the Civil War, childhood idols and politicians ditch purity rings while praising God for the new gay marriage allowances, and women who broke contracts win lawsuits because the court would rather protect sexual freedoms than give a Catholic Archdiocese an honest ruling, the Cardinal’s chilling prophesy sounds realistic. As the country comes closer and closer to eliminating the freedom of religion entirely, martyrdom is preparing to emerge from the shadows of the Middle Ages and take aim at the American faithful.

In light of this approaching reality, one of the first things the mind begins to ponder is the necessity of such a sacrifice. Though the glory and honor of a martyr is unparalleled in Heaven, the reality of pain on Earth is enough to understandably lead even the most devout to consider other options. While the Church does not require any of her children to seek out martyrdom- to purposefully put themselves in situations which would bring about a graphic end- she does need them to be strong enough to suffer in the event that denying faith or dying for it are the only two choices. Like St. Thomas More, who used his wit and words to remain within the law and the Church as long as possible, exploring every possibility before surrendering to the sword is permissible. But just as St. Thomas More eventually reached a point where he could not both serve God and bow to the King, Catholics must be ready to “die his Majesty’s good servant, but God’s first,” just as he did.

When the time comes and a man must pay the ultimate price for his faith, God will not abandon him.  Blessed John Paul II writes in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor that the truth for which the man would die “is the truth which sets one free in the face of worldly power and which gives the strength to endure martyrdom.” In regards to a Catholic’s duty to God he says “It is an honour characteristic of Christians to obey God rather than men (cf. Acts 4:19; 5:29) and accept even martyrdom as a consequence, like the holy men and women of the Old and New Testaments, who are considered such because they gave their lives rather than perform this or that particular act contrary to faith or virtue.” Thus it is a part of the glorious Church tradition to hold on to God in the midst of the storm, to stand firm upon the rock rather than surrender to the current, and let the hot blood of life mix with the sacrifices of the saints reaching back through history, coming together in the altar chalice, so as to finally greet Christ in pure white garments washed in unparalleled love.

The majority of Catholics will not be called to this “supreme witness”; on the contrary the soon-to-be saint writes “although martyrdom represents the high point of the witness to moral truth, and one to which relatively few people are called, there is nonetheless a consistent witness which all Christians must daily be ready to make, even at the cost of suffering and grave sacrifice.” Hence Catholics must be ready to give up comfort in the name of faith, keeping in mind that their lives in Heaven are dependent upon their actions on Earth, but also knowing in their hearts that God will never present them with challenges they are not strong enough to face, and that they will never have to carry even the smallest crosses on their own.

© 2013. Abigail Reimel. All Rights Reserved.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Abigail Reimel Gripshover is a writer, editor, and dreamer living in the city with her husband, Robert. She loves to keep herself busy, and recently added “business owner” and “wife” to her ever growing list of titles and responsibilities. The beach, her family, coffee, books, and date nights are some of her favorite things. She is always learning, and strives to grow in love every day.

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  • Hamilton

    There is a better option to martyrdom, and that is armed resistance.

    Every archdiocese ought to urge every Catholic man between the ages of 18 and 55 to acquire a rifle, {a true battle rifle!} and a sidearm, and urge every man to train regularly with it.

    Such an action would put the fear of God in our increasingly oppressive ruling elite.

    That’s what we ought to be doing, letting the establishment know that Catholics are not going to sit around and accept a knife put to their throat!

    • Phil Dzialo

      And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. — Isaiah 2:3-4

    • Hamilton

      And until such time, as our forefathers did, ——— let us keep our weapons at hand, and let us keep our powder dry…………!

      It is a patented immorality to advise tens of millions of Americans, and American Catholics, to let their God given rights go undefended, go unchampioned, and instead to ready themselves for “martyrdom.”

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  • Phil Dzialo

    Abigail, the United States is a democratic republic where government derives from the people. History is clear that we are not a Catholic nor a Christian state while we honor the rights of Christians to practice their religion as proscribed by their faith. Many people, in fact the majority, do not agree with nor ascribe to the RCC’s views on contraception, definition of marriage, abortion, etc. The government nor the people persecute Catholics. Disagreement does not mean prosecution. Disagreement is the hallmark of a democratic republic. Again, disagreement is not prosecution. The Inquisitions are prosecutions. US Government does not force Catholics to contracept, to abort, to perform gay marriages, etc. The majority of Catholics do not even accept these traditional teachings. So there is much disagreement; no prosecution. I see no one jailed, killed, interrogated, expelled because of their beliefs. I honor you beliefs as genuine and devout, they are not universally held by the public from whom civil government flows.

    • Margaret Conroy

      Take you head out of the sand Phil, it isn’t here today, but these things happen inch by slow inch. Recall the story of how to boil a frog. Little by little!!

    • Phil Dzialo

      @3a2b09c16d7517bbf6f5e6f4c0c169c3:disqus, when comment is devoid of fact, data and reason, one oft resorts to “ad hominen” argument and platitudes. Change happen inch by inch, change is not Catholic persecution. Some people do not like the change and that is fine.

    • Ron Van Wegen

      I’m afraid you don’t get ti have an “opinion” or “view” about the reality of abortion. Murder is murder. In America and most countries you can get away with it. The fact remains.

    • arnaldo

      united states is a Christian nation by sheer majority. Our laws are derive from
      Christian principles. Catholic teachings does not rest on popular
      opinion. Even if a large portion of Catholics disagree with the church. The HHS
      MANDATE is beyond disagreeing with RCC. It is a sick form of intolerance and
      persecution of our belief. The govt forces authentic Catholics to violate their
      deeply held beliefs. Why should faithful Catholics be mandated to finance
      anything that is contrary to their faith. non practicing Catholics should be
      able to finance their unfaithfulness to RCC teachings by themselves. We have
      freedom of religion in this country and it guarantees that anyone can practice
      their faith regardless whether they are in the minority or majority in numbers.
      Civil govt is derive from the people who believe in religious tolerance. This
      is constitutional

    • Phil Dzialo

      (1) If you lay hold to the idea that the US is A Christian nation by sheer majority; then the laws emanating from the legislature are a function of majority. Since the slight majority of the US is white, then we must be a white nation. Since the majority of citizens are female, we must be a female nation. The we are a majority argument is a non sequitor.
      (2) Our laws do not derive from Christian principles, ie same sex marriage, DOMA as unconstitutional, THE FIRST AMENDMENT, etc. The founding fathers were by and large deists…I could cite hundreds of reference from the Treaty of Tripoli to Jefferson’s dissection of the bible. If many of our laws conflict with Christian principles then they CANNOT be derived from Christian principles..
      Check your history, your facts and your grammar…a course in logic would also be beneficial

    • arnaldo

      Our laws do not derive from Christian principles, ie same sex marriage, DOMA as unconstitutional, THE FIRST AMENDMENT, etc. The founding fathers were by and large deists…I could cite hundreds of reference from the Treaty of Tripoli
      response: of course years ago the united states is heavily populated by Caucasians. it was accurately classified as white in culture, why do you think immigrants have to make proper adjustment. some of the founding fathers are deist but they recognize that the colonist are deeply religious check your history and distorted logic. you’re analogy is seriously flawed. You are confusing religious identity with the form of government we have.besides there are countries who have more females than males but they are never identified as a female nation. very few of our laws conflict with Christianity. same sex marriage ,abortion etc. are exceptions. and they are unpopular than you would like to think. the first amendments respects religious belief of any kind. now tell me if we are not a religious country why do we care to protect religious rights?