This post was going to start off with a discussion of why the Dominicans were agents of the Inquisition and the Franciscans weren't. Well, after a little research I realized that, although the Dominicans were the leading mendicant order involved, the Franciscans were also there. My fondly held image of the Dominican inquisitors chasing various Franciscans was possibly derived more from Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose than any close reading of history. I still maintain that the Dominicans prosecuted the Inquisition with far more zeal than the Franciscans were capable of. Nevertheless, this somewhat romanticized image tells more about my own character than anything else. By temperament I am far closer to the Franciscans than I ever will be to the Dominicans.
While surfing about this morning I ran into a post by The Idler which set me thinking about Catholics and suffering. He says that maybe all of this suffering of the Church is precisely because we are the Body of Christ. If you think about it, the Church as the Body of Christ might just be on its way to its own Calvary. We are, and we have for centuries, experiencing the sufferings of Christ in a mystical sense - "If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated me before you" (John 15:18). My own meditations on this led me to the suffering of Christians in Syria and the Middle East where many are forced to flee for their lives. Compared to this much of the so called persecution we experience in North America is a trifling thing. Perhaps we should give thanks that we still have homes to return to and churches where we can worship.
What does all this have to do with me? While I am willing to clearly state the Church's teaching to those I encounter in my life, I have no desire to participate in any inquisition. Let the heresy hunters do what they will, I shall wander the countryside gathering stones for my own San Damiano. As for persecution, I shall try to remember the sufferings of Christ and approach any trials sent my way with as much joy as this old curmudgeon can manage.
Fighting a Losing Battle?