We live in a world growing increasingly hostile to followers of Christ. The forces of secularism are drawing the battle lines in government, society, family, and even in churches. Expressions of faith are met with ridicule, derision, and even death in many parts of the world. Those who would follow orthodoxy find hostility from those in the Church Herself who would adapt to modernity.
This isn’t an unexpected development. Christ didn’t come to save the world. He came to save us from the world (John 17:9). Those who would be a friend of the world make themselves enemies of God (James 4:4). To be holy is to be called out and separated for Him.
What is the modern ethic? It is same as it has been from the beginning—the glorification of man. Satan didn’t tempt Adam and Eve to turn on God in favor of himself. He made them doubt God’s love for them and rely on their own judgement. He promised they could be like gods themselves, knowing what is good and evil (Gen 3:5). In essence, they could decide for themselves what is right and wrong. Such philosophy disregards the truth of the Church given by Christ and the Spirit in favor of the subjective and malleable wisdom of men. Can there be any unity when each is a Christ unto himself?
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers [Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12]. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth [Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20] will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh [Cf. 2 Thess 2:4-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:18,22] (CCC 675).
What is the finite wisdom of man when compared to the infinite wisdom of God? Nothing. Though a man be an imbecile or the greatest of thinkers, he is but a child in the eyes of God. We were formed from the dust and it’s to dust we return. Against the eons and the ages, each man’s time takes barely the blink of an eye. Where is our significance? We find purpose in uniting with infinity Himself who loved us enough to call us into creation, breathed life into us at our foundations, sought after us in our infidelity, and died to redeem us. When we take God’s name at our rebirth of Baptism, we put ourselves at odds with the world and invite suffering.
But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let no one among you be made to suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as an intriguer. But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name (1 Peter 4:13-16).
In suffering for the Kingdom, we are united with Christ. That doesn’t mean that all of our suffering is redemptive. In our sin, we justify the derision and condemnation of the world and put ourselves under its authority. If we would follow Christ, we should rejoice in our suffering for standing in the truth and face condemnation free from earthly guilt as He did.
What do we have to fear? Satan is a liar (John 8:44). His greatest lie now is his own relevance. He puffs himself up in the world to appear great and menacing yet he is cowed. He tempts us with worldly riches and lures us from the cross. His victims place their trust in a false god and unfaithful friend in exchange for the fires of Hell. Rejecting him and his lies is our defense against his works and empty promises. When we resist him, he flees (James 4:7).
Christ has already come. He conquered sin and death. He sits on His throne over all creation. He told us Himself that we have nothing to fear because He has conquered the world (John 16:33). We have only to trust Him and live life in the Spirit.
The Rosary is a meditation on the mysteries of the life of Christ and His mother. We don’t do this simply to marvel at what they have done. We have been called to follow. In each of the mysteries are lessons for us in our own lives. They give us a model to follow in fidelity to our identity as children of God. As we reflect on what was done then, we should meditate on what we may do now. In doing so, we will march with Him to the cross and rise with Him to glory.
We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and His mysteries and often to beg Him to perfect and realize them in us and in His whole Church. . . For it is the plan of the Son of God to make us and the whole Church partake in His mysteries and to extend them to and continue them in us and in His whole Church. This is His plan for fulfilling His mysteries in us [St John Eudes, LH, Week 33, Friday, OR] (CCC 521).
The divisions in our world and among believers aren’t caused by those who stand firm in truth. The rifts grow when those blessed with authority pull against the moorings. So much time is wasted in resisting what God has ordained—man’s folly replacing God’s wisdom. Fidelity to the world makes us enemies of God (James 4:4). Standing in the truth means we don’t have to invent new ideas, just study what has been bequeathed to us by those who faithfully stood before us. It’s at once the easiest and hardest thing to do. It’s easy because our obligation is summarized in love—love for God and our fellow men. It’s the hardest thing to do because following God faithfully means inviting condemnation from the world—even in our own homes.
May God grant us the grace to put aside our fears and trust Him—united in truth (John 17:11).