The sacrifice of those who follow Him

By David M. Carollo –

The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer, 1883, oil on canvas. Jean-Léon Gérôme/Wikimedia Commons.

In the liturgies following Christmas we commemorate the feast days of some who gave all for the Faith. We remember St. Stephen, the first person martyred for preaching the word, the Holy Innocents, slaughtered by Herod in hopes to kill the newborn Savior, and later in the week, St. Thomas Beckett, who defied the edicts of a king to stand witness for God. Some, including myself, have questioned why the Church has placed these feast days on the calendar immediately following the most joyous celebration of the year. The reality becomes apparent when we ponder what the birth of Christ truly calls us to. From His conception, through His birth in a cave to His death on the cross, His life was one of example and a challenge to follow Him no matter the price. We must all ponder the depth of the commitment we make to be Catholic. 

We are called to be warriors for the Faith. Warriors sometimes perish in battle, but the fruit of their sacrifice carries forward. We are now living in times when it is no longer possible to triangulate with feet in both camps. It never truly was the case that we could placate and coexist with the enemies of God. He set a natural order, and any accommodation of disorder is not only a direct insult to God, but admits a lack of true charity, which calls for admonishing sin and instructing those who lack the full knowledge of divine law. Evil has seized power in this world, primarily because we have become comfortable in its midst and have abdicated our duty. We can no longer stand back and accept evil as normal.  

The time between Christmas and Lent is short. Ordinary time, as we refer to it, is anything but ordinary for a true Catholic.  Those who commit to being strong in the Faith are, by this act, committing to be counter to the culture, which does not reflect the laws of God. The children of Fatima were told by the Angel of Peace to “Pray, pray, pray!” We must always be on guard, as evil never rests.

We live in a time of dulled consciences. From corporate leaders to consumers, we ignore slave labor practices and religious persecution in other countries to enjoy the inexpensive goods that these practices make possible. We are pro-life, but without seeing the horror of life-ending practices, few of us grasp the true nature of these things. We watch people that we care for live contrary to Catholic morality, but fail to speak; fearful of insulting them and losing their friendship. We often tolerate policies and the resultant actions that directly violate the Commandments. It is because of this indifference that we have seen our society deteriorate to paganism. True Christians are not indifferent. Now more than ever we need to stand and fight for the rights of God. No government or societal norm can lead us to violate the laws of God.  Like the martyrs, such as St. Thomas Becket, we must see only God’s law as our guidepost. The United States was founded on the principle of religious liberty. Catholics waited years to fully participate in this freedom. Limitations placed on worship in 2020, however, are an ominous sign.

I have always been impressed with Catholics that I have come to know and work with in countries where religious freedom is not a recognized right. In Eastern Europe, many of those who are my friends and associates worked hard to regain their right to worship after the Communist suppression. In Africa and India, they suffer from marginalization in ways that we do not know. They pay a price to be Catholic, something that we are unaccustomed to in the U.S. Catholics in these places practice the Faith with a zeal and reverence that we need to emulate. It is the most important thing in their lives – the pearl of great price.

We are entering a time when our practice of faith will face less freedom. Possibly well-meaning restrictions on worship have set a dangerous precedent in this country, which almost certainly will lead to arbitrary limitations on our most basic right, that of worshiping as we please, and more importantly to influence public policy accordingly. 

Many Christians worldwide have suffered at the hands of a culture by marginalization and many have given their very lives in defense of the rights of God. But the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Faith and we can be certain that those who have given their lives and those who will be subject to this fate, open the doors to an explosion of grace that will define the era to come – the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We can change the world. We have the power of prayer and the weapon of the Rosary to protect us. We, though, cannot just stand and defend our position. We must be on the offensive. No battle was ever won from a defensive position. We must proactively fight for Him so that we will become worthy of the promises made for ages. With Our Lady guiding us, we will prevail and return this country and our world back to proper orbit, revolving around God. It can be done. It must be done. It will be done.

As we look to St. Joseph in this special year dedicated to him, we have commissioned an icon depicting how he appeared during the Oct. 13, 1917, apparition, holding the Child Jesus, and blessing the world with Mary by his side. He was the guardian of the Holy Family and he will guard and guide our mission. 

Be strong in these times. Pray always, especially the Rosary. It is the weapon to fight the errors of this time.

God bless you.

David Carollo is the Executive Director of the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA – Our Lady’s Blue Army. He wrote this for his Voice of Fatima e-newsletter.

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