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"The Apostles, with the help of the Holy Spirit, responded well: they summoned the group of disciples and spoke to them. And this is the first step: when there are difficulties, we need to look closely at them, and confront them and speak about them. But never hide them" Pope Francis
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Yesterday, August 7th, we remembered the martyrdom of Pope Saint Sixtus II and his companions. Saint Sixtus consecrated Bishop of Rome in 257, was seized by Roman soldiers the following year, by order of the Emperor Valerian, while saying Mass in the cemetery of Saint Callistus. Together with four deacons of the Church of Rome he was put to death on August 6th and buried in the same cemetery.
From a letter of Saint Cyprian we learn of the extent of Valerian's persecution:
"Valerian has recommended to the Senate that bishops, priests and deacons should be put to death immediately; that senators, distinguished men and Roman knights should lose their rank and be deprived of their property. If they remain Christians after forfeiting their wealth and privileges, they are to be beheaded. Matrons are to be deprived of their property and sent into exile. As for the members of Caesar's own retinue, those who now make a confession of their faith, are to be put in chains and assigned to work on Caesar's estates. . . . Moreover, the Prefects of the City are pursuing this persecution relentlessly; if any suspected Christians are brought before them they will be executed and their property confiscated."
I wonder why leaders in Today's Church show so little courage in the face of modern "persecution". I'm not just talking about bishops, priests and deacons, but also school trustees, bureaucrats and other assorted church leaders. Are they afraid of losing their "wealth and privileges"? After all, a slimy little toad like Dalton McGuinty is no Valerian.
Saint Cyprian's attitude to the political situation of his day bears no comparison to our own:
"I want you to make these things known to the rest of our colleagues so that the Christian community will everywhere be strengthened by their exhortations and prepared for this testing of the spirit.
We are unshaken in our loyalty to the faith even if it means enduring martyrdom. We look forward to receiving the crown of eternal life from God's merciful hands. . . .Each and everyone of our brethren should think less of death than of immortality. Consecrating themselves to the Lord with faith and courage entire, let them rejoice rather than fear in this profession . . . "
We don't get much exhortation these days and consequently are not prepared for our own "testing of the spirit". Where do we go to find the strength to endure and overcome our own petty little persecutions? Any suggestions?