The Coming Persecution

The execution of Fr Miguel Pro

The execution of Fr Miguel Pro

So much talk amongst right wing Catholics of the erosion of religious liberty, the collapse of all things and the coming persecution. Talk of government detention centers and priests being shot like Bl. Miguel Pro.

I don’t think they get it. That’s not what it will be like.

America is different. We’re into image big time. We thought the Soviets were into brainwashing and propaganda. We put them in the shade. America is all about healthy, lusty, good looking guys and gals who are clean cut, successful and smiling. We’re into the good life. We’re into being good and looking good, and if not the former at least the latter. We’re into being the best, most successful and happy people in the world. Don’t you know that??

There will be no martial law or military in the streets. That would appear to be so un-American! The officers who enforce the mandate will be lawyers in suits bearing legal documents. The battles will be in the courtroom. The penalties will seem just to the majority of people because we are in a democracy and those who disobey the law need to be punished, for it is the law of the land, and after all, if they had not done anything wrong they would not need to worry about anything!

To disobey the Mandate will seem so obstinate and unreasonable, for the State will not seek to close down any churches. Instead it will support the churches. Clergy training will be paid by the state. The church buildings will be maintained by a church tax which will be called the “tithe”. Clergy will remain in their posts. Their dignity will be respected. All they will need to do is sign certain documents which ensure their safety and their freedom of worship in return for acknowledging the authority of the State (in civil matters only of course) These documents will be worded in such a way that a conscience clause will be admitted. The State will control the church “insofar as the law of God allows.”

The State will bring in a sensible recognition of the validity of orders between the Christian churches. For practical reasons the Episcopalian priest or the Lutheran minister will be able to exchange ministries with the Catholic priest just as the Episcopalians and Lutherans already do. It will be a practical matter. Nothing theological will be implied for the Ministers of State would never presume to infringe on the theological aspect of the church. That would be above their pay grade. The orders will be interchangeable because the two churches are already so similar, and furthermore, many Episcopal priests are former Catholics and so have valid orders. This will smooth over the inconsistencies.

Many Catholic priests, after all, agree with the Episcopal doctrines and are in favor of married priests, women’s ordination and homosexual marriage. Furthermore, the majority of the Catholics in the pews have no real problem with these things, and they see the sense of the government’s re-organization of the religious life of the country. They never did like the noisy ‘neo con’ Catholics with their constant harping on about abortion and being homophobic and obsessed with sex. The government’s solutions, it will be agreed, will bring peace to the whole situation. Common sense will prevail.

Oh there will be the complainers to be sure.  Continue Reading

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  • Katherine

    That is all assuming the economy recovers and our government doesn't bankrupt us and anyone can afford to go to the mall.

  • Sharon

    I clicked the "interesting" box because there wasn't one for "scary." This does not seem at all far-fetched.

  • Beth (JanMarie)

    This gives me chills! Where are the "Navy Seals" of the Catholic Church??? (just saw the movie "Act of Valor"). Holding out for some Catholic heroes!The scenario you described is only the beginning…it will get much worse, unless….Prayer Warriors urgently needed!!!

  • Sue

    Your scenario, dear Father, assumes that the good God can continue to allow thousands of abortions daily not to mention innumerable other heinous crimes. Change the scenario of persecution to one of chastisement. Hurricanes of fire, aka the Three Days of Darkness fit the bill.

  • Allison

    Thank you for the lenten suffering you gave me tonight in reading this.

  • Amy Giglio

    I keep "joking" with my husband about fleeing the country in advance of the persecution of the Church. I just can't imagine where we'd go. I would apply to the Holy See for asylum,but where would we live? Then I think to myself, "We really ought to stay and fight." All we can do right now is pray.

  • Old Bob

    "Insofar as the law of God allows."Hmmmm. I've heard that before.Maybe in "A Man for All Seasons"?

  • Subvet

    Not with a bang but a whimper.

  • shadowlands

    "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."The devil will seek to destroy the kingdom of God in our hearts before he destroys it literally on earth. It makes his task so much simpler. He's a warrior and knows how to prepare for combat.At least that's how I see the battle waging it's war in me. Funny thing is, the weaker I get, the more I cry out to Christ, until it becomes obvious to me, that He is my ONLY hope with my particular (large) defects of character. Then there comes a certain and peculiar peace about all worldly events.The Lord certainly works in mysterious ways.Jesus Christ will be looking for mountain moving faith in men's hearts when He returns, no matter how lost things seem (things are rarely how they seem anyway).God is working HIS purpose out. He is in charge and won't put us past the test of our own strength. He can take you pretty close to the edge mindyou, I've found haha!Put on spiritual armour every morning, before you get up.

  • Paul Rodden

    "We're into image big time. We thought the Soviets were into brainwashing and propaganda. We put them in the shade. America is all about healthy, lusty, good looking guys and gals who are clean cut, successful and smiling. We're into the good life. We're into being good and looking good, and if not the former at least the latter."So not Communism but, sad to say, that sounds rather like Aryanism.

  • Paul Rodden

    PS…Dr John Zmirak's, "The Grand Inquisitor" (a modern Catholic version of Dostoevsky’s fable of the same name), makes chilling reading on this theme.

  • Craig

    Sounds like my daughter's book "Crossbows and Crucifixes" (Sophia Institute Press)!

  • kkollwitz

    More Brave New World than 1984.

  • Howard

    I think the only fair thing to say is that we don't have any clear idea what the future holds. There are any number of unsustainable trends that we are on now, with no sign of getting off them: demographic trends, economic trends, educational trends, and trends in the moral behavior of society. A disturbing fact is that all of these seem to be reaching crisis at the same time (my guess is around 2020). If we have a real crisis, it will happen before we really know it's on us, and it will move in unpredictable directions. That's the way it always is. No one would have really predicted the English Civil War or the French Revolution. I remember quite well that no one foresaw the peaceful collapse, first of the Berlin Wall, then of the Warsaw Pact, then of the Soviet Union. Tom Clancy said, truthfully enough, that he could have written a more believable end to the Soviet Union. But I think we can pretty much rule out "three days of darkness" and "hurricanes of fire", if that means direct supernatural signs and wonders. For one thing, the alleged private revelations from which cuch expectations arise seem to be problematic, for instances including assurances that either the world will repent or be punished by the year 2000. For another, it is not necessary. The natural consequences of our own actions will be quite punishment enough.

  • Patricius

    "Insofar as the law of God allows."Henry VIII Act of Supremacy.

  • doctoreric

    You have articulated the point I've been trying to make ever since the HHS mandate was handed down.

  • Lisa

    I just recently finished listening to the audiobook of The Hiding Place, which I got from the library. I truly believe we have got to be prepared for something which I think is worse than death: watching our own children and grandchildren cave in to the government or nearly starve to death. I'm surprised "19 Kids and Counting" is still on the air. That and the bishops being united on HHS are two of the few signs of hope I see.

  • ML

    I admit I'm nearly immobilized w/ grief. But I keep praying and writing to politicians and speaking w/ friends, family, fellow-parishioners, students, whoever will listen. But it seems there should be more we can do. But I thought this before Obama was elected, and I was horrified to find I knew so many who either thought he was going to solve all our problems, or they were indifferent to the issues. I confess I'm experiencing some amount of despair. Yet, I keep praying. WHAT can we do? What should we be DOING?

  • Saul Alinsky Jr.

    While the guerrilla fighters of the SSPX continue to battle from the hills. You can take my faith when you pry my 1962 Daily Missal from my cold dead hands.

  • Laura

    I'd like this, were it not for the fact that this regime – er, Administration? – has already declared us the terrorists. There is definitely a war against the Church – against all Christian people of deep and earnestly-held faith. The fact that until now the bishops have largely been silenced in the face of the growing contempt for religious practice, beginning even before Mr. O. rescinded President B's conscience protection regulations, before the forcing of a radical feminist and homosexual social agenda on our culture, leads one to question why the Administration should take us seriously now.

  • Hieronymus

    I had several different thoughts while reading your dystopian scenario, Father. First, it is all very possible, the majority of Americans being what they are (and don't forget the still-lingering anti-Catholic bias!). Second, historical examples show that the governmental interference into religious matters is not always sheepishly accepted by at least a substantial segment of the populace even if the said segment had once been in agreement with the general policies of the government (remember the Vendee and the chouanerie in France?). So the things can really go either way. Third, and this was caused by your statement that the Christians/Catholics would become poor and marginalized – isn't it as it was in the beginning? Perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad thing after all, especially when we see how the "mainstream" culture looks like…

  • MPatrick

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Ann

    Sort of like Noah's time before the great flood? Or China where two churches exist: the patriotic church and the underground church. I know which one I will attend, God willing.

  • Enzo dei Selvaggi

    I read Judith last night with new eyes…Only penance can save us. There is no superpope coming, and no defense against the Enemy.

  • Jamie Baugh

    I agree with the first comment from Katherine. The economy is fixin' to collapse. In comes dictatorship and outright persecution. I don't think it will be as pretty and neat as you describe. Although, I think Drew on Relevant Radio agrees with your "white martyrdom" scenario, I believe the reality will be much more bloody than we may be willing to admit right now. A couple of commenters have referenced St. Thomas More's era. Martyrdom was unthinkable to him at one point. I remember in the movie he has an exchange with Norfolk who says "This isn't Spain, this is England!" In other words, we don't have that sort of thing going on around here! Yet within a couple of short years, he was beheaded, and we all know what followed, clergy-wise. We'd better think like martyrs of the old school.

  • Beloved

    I thought your piece very well written, except for "Families here and there who are home schooling types–their girls in long denim skirts and their boys with combed hair and white shirts and ties. These "fundamentalists" will be called recusants." It seems to imply that the only faithful, true Catholics will be those who forbid their women to wear pants and who think Diocesan Catholic Schools aren't faithful. That I have a big problem with. Women can be modest and devout Catholics and wear pants. And I know good, faithful to Church teaching Catholic families who send their children to parish schools. I sincerely hope Father, that is not what you're implying.

  • Lisa Julia Photography

    sadly and heartbreakingly sobering.

  • Just another mad Catholic

    This sounds like a time when we should take inspiration from the Poet Dylan Thomas who penned the phrase "Do not go gentle into that good night,Old age should burn and rave at close of day;Rage, rage against the dying of the light"If the Church in America is to die, I would rather see it fight to the last to preserve Christian Order in this world, personally I'd rather be hung for a sheep than for a lamb. Where are the Christian men who will take up arms to defend thier faith? Where are the General Franco's of today? You say it cannot be done? In Spain they took up arms and succeeded in preserving Christian Order in that once great county.

  • Siobhan

    "Be careful to preserve your faith, because in the future the Church in the USA will be separated from Rome" St. Leopold Mandic (1866-1942) From Antichrist and the End Times by Rev. Joseph Iannuzzi

  • Fr John Abberton

    See Brian Gail's trilogy especially the last one, "Childless". It's all there.

  • MJK

    Remember the teachings of dear Uncle Screwtape. "Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."Your affectionate uncleSCREWTAPEAnd so is the present persecution of the Church in the West. Great insight Father.

  • adele young

    Father …You are assuming that the current administration survives the November 2012 election. Where is your hope? Mine lies in sweeping out Obama et al! If that happens most of the horrendous issues facing this Nation will be resolved favorably for all Americans including those Catholics who respect the freedoms quaranteed by our Constitution. We must pray…and vote for a return of America, the beautiful, and the home of the free and the brave. God bless America!

  • triumphguy

    Put me against the wall and shoot me now!I'm less scared of physical death than I am of being a zombie Catholic.

  • Joni

    Heartbreaking. Thankfully Jesus told us that the gates of hell will not prevail. I'm going to assume that also includes the government. I'll proudly wear the recusant label.

  • Fr Longenecker

    Beloved, this is not what I think of home schoolers, but my idea of what the worldlings would say of them.

  • rebecca

    Didn't China do something similar by having an "officially sanctioned" Church, including appointing their own leadership outside of the Pope's involvement????? (Different motivation but same desire for control.)

  • Terry Nelson

    "The State will control the church 'insofar as the law of God allows.'"I can't see how that could happen in the U.S. where the separation of Church and State is sacrosanct.

  • justamouse

    It's a good time to be fasting and wearing ashes.

  • Elizabeth

    The future is never what you think it will be. America isn't the only country in the world, there are other players in the mix, I can think of several. What about all those loans from China?? Will Americans be speaking Chinese in 50 years?

  • rrpondrom

    Somehow I doubt that Christ or his disciples would deliver a passive sarcasm of politcal class demagoguery when preaching to followers of Christ's teachings of the laws of God. They would be straightforward and specific in calling out the culprits who are corrupting society and the specifics of their demagoguery. They would also instruct the faithful on what the path of righteous action and behavior should be followed according to the laws of the Church and the constituional laws of the country which protect the ability of the Church to carry out it's mission.

  • Francisco Lozano

    Truly frightening! But persecution is nothing new to us Catholics and we can still find courage and hope. I recently wrote about St. Athanasius and the current state of things. You can check it out here: you for this post.

  • Servant

    No no no. It is time for the bishops, priests and religious to EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE! Americans don't understand their religion. They don't understand God. Get out and INSTRUCT, INSTRUCT, INSTRUCT! That is your mission. Why is Religion important to Americans? Why is God important to Americans? What is the Natural Law? What happens when the Natural Law is violated? INSTRUCT AMERICA'S CURRENT AND FUTURE PRESIDENTS, CONGRESSMEN AND JUDGES.

  • Laura

    Death by inanition. There is a new concept that can wrap itself around both spiritual and the physical death of those who don't go along to get along.

  • Daniel

    There is hope. The Catholic lay apostolates, institutes, third orders, etc., such as Opus Dei, the Focolare and the Lay Missionaries of Charity, are building a Christian culture in the midst of this post-Christian, atheistic world. This is a time for devout Catholics to unite in love and courage and not be afraid of evil or the world. If you need hope, read the "Book of Revelation" in the Bible, C.S. Lewis's "The Last Battle" ("Chronicles of Narnia") and J.R.R Tolkien's "The Silmarillion" and "The Lord of the Rings." Catholic laity, arise! This is a time for us to do great deeds with expectant faith and love that can neither be diminished nor defeated.

  • Whimsy

    In "What's Going On" you suggest HHS is a political ploy; now you suggest there's more to it than that.

  • Peadar Ban

    Dear Beth,You asked where are the heroes? I asked the same question myself, of me< the other day…forming it this way, "Do I have the strength/courage to do what I think needs to be done? Am I ready for what I believe is coming?" I know that I am afraid for the future. In the endit will mean that I cannot sssume my anonymous Catholicity anymore, and simply walk into a church. I will have to abandon hiding in the crowd. Am I Christ's, or am I something else? I pray that my answer will be an heroic one. I know I won't be able to make that answer on my own.

  • T

    I disagree.I think there will be martial law and military in the streets. That is what happens as the Empire is in its death throes.It's really naive to think it can't happen in America. In fact, it already is: TSA anyone?

  • Abbey

    I concur with Shadowlands' comments.

  • Jenny

    Just got in from a long weekend trip and read this. I believe you've pretty well nailed it, Father. I really do believe (and told my adult daughter this weekend) that the Church cannot win the war with radical secularism unless/until She wins the disunity war WITHIN that is peaking and SO distracting. Satan's greatest ploy is Catholic against Catholic…the same ploy he has used/uses to destroy families.

  • Bear Paw

    Father, do you really think the government is out to do this to the Church?? Really????? If you do I think you're crazy. I'm thankful you're not my Pastor.

  • Al Bergstrazer

    Bear Paw, that is a very disrespectful thing to say, whether you're a Catholic or not. I am a Lutheran, and can tell you this sort of thing is already happening in Finland, where a pastor can run afoul of the state if he does not wish to participate in a service in which a female pastor is the celebrant. It is happening in Canada where Lutheran pastors have also feel the heat of the government in the form of hate-crime legislation when they spoke against homosexuality from the pulpit. More Christians were martyred in the 20th century than in any other time in history, what evidence is there that the 21st will be different?

  • mom24

    My Priest recommended a book by Robert Hugh Benson called "Lord of the World." It is a frightening picture of a post-Christian world written MANY decades ago. We can only pray that we remain part of the faithful Remnant if we find ourselves living in such times.

  • tomcj

    I agree with you Bear Paw. Not one assertion of this deranged priest will happen. I suppose that people will continue to use birth control, and sex is about the one thing the Official church cares about–they are against it, except when having babies, and don’t even think about it, either.

    Meanwhile, people will clear their hearts and listen to God and for God. And meanwhile, all the self-piteous believers like this unfortunate man, will practice every part of their faith, their Faith, unhindered as they claim somehow that it is only their courage that stands in the way of any actual event that can remotely be called “The Coming Persecution”.

    I think Protestants should hear that they need to listen to and obey The Pope, and then let’s see what they mean by “Separation of Church and State”.

    Most people want to believe and most try heartily to believe in God, and even democrats believe in Jesus Christ and try to listen to, care for, and join the Body of Christ. I do not see how a screed, a vague and somewhat alienating and self-important screed like this does anything for anybody except people who hate Obama.

  • Raymond Suda

    Comparing the TSA to military is quite a stretch. It is an insult to our great military folks. The TSA are less than capable of controlling anything. They barely manage to manage air travellers.

  • lethargic

    That sentence annoyed me, too, Beloved. We home schooled our children for a few years and nobody in this household has ever worn a denim jumper. Also, my son’s hair was halfway down his back … until a girl he wanted to date made it a requirement for his taking her out … and ain’t we a faithful Catholic family? Yah, it’s not about the denim and white shirts. I think Father was using a voice of hyperbole in this passage, but it still annoys me.

  • Frank

    Truly frightening because it is so possible a future. The upside is that the Church has survived if not thrived when it was the outcast and for outcasts. It could in this scenario again. I am old enough to remember the Latin Mass and also the abrupt halt put on Catholic Education. Many if not most people my age who were baptized and raised Catholic know very little about the faith. I am disappointed at our clergy wringing their hands at the laity and bemoaning how ill prepared and ill formed they are. It is a terrible dilemma. I have taught RCIA for over 20 years and am greatly encourged by those entering the Church. Often I hear, all Catholics ought to do this! what is that? Learn about the faith! 40 years or so ago, our US Church leadership felt such education was unnecessary. The subtle and downward slop has been underfoot for more than a generation. Your scenario is frightening because it could be so. Just as, Nazi Germany or Communist China, or any other rule by state without respect for human dignity. It is all very frightening. Where do I set my flag? Is this firm ground on which I stand or am I just moving on shifting sands?
    I try to follow my conscience and also know it must be informed. Both take prayer and effort.
    Thanks for a truly provoking story.

  • Stephanie Bodene

    Very good post. Reminds me of the word most frequently used in the law today: “reasonable.” For example, a defense attorney owes his client “reasonably” effective assistance of counsel, not zealous. A jury can convict a defendant based on certainty beyond a “reasonable” doubt, not the shadow of a doubt. “Reasonable” is the standard by which everything is judged. What does “reasonable” mean? The courts haven’t even come up with an adequate definition. I guess it means ruled by reason. In the case of the Protestants, it means bending over backward so that nobody can accuse you of being unreasonable.

  • Jan Baker

    Oh I’m sorry to have come late to this discussion! I am currently writing a science ficttion novel set on the first space colony in which a group of Catholics, pushed to the edge by the unveiling of the new One World Religion to match the single government, run for it to an asteroid conventiently located in the Oort Cloud, the best interstellar place to hide.
    Because I don’t know what else we’re going to do.
    How can we ‘educate’ our population when we still deny the principle of Christ the King? When we still endorse secularism?
    Related: my YMCA just changed the traffic pattern to force all women to enter the building through the open changing area next to the pool. They are forcing us to look at naked bodies, some of them, due to their SSA, exhibiting their wares, every time we enter the building. The old by pass door we used to have is still there and still manned. I actually cried in the program office, protesting the change, and the devils looked at me with amusement: modesty? How quaint! Get over it! So I quit going a month ago, and am now sitting here following my heart attack last week with a ten inch incision in my chest. My medicare funds pays for this exercise program and no others, for us seniors. I have been able to interest no one in my cause. But this is how yahoo fascism happens.

  • Timothy Jones

    I don’t know. I can see that some of that could realistically happen, and i think the thrust of the article is very true – that we should not expect to see troops in the street or Christians being herded off to camps.

    But I’m not sure there’s much point in focusing on the State’s efforts to try and hobble the Church. The Church IS hobbled. Certainly not defeated outright, and hopeful pockets of resistance remain, but on the whole, Catholicism in America is an impotent, shrunken thing, withered by the scorching winds of modern consumer culture and the sexual revolution. Most of us caved long ago and capitulated to the world. We gave way to our own desires and to social pressure.

    The wall was breached a long time ago. The faithful are not figuratively standing watch on the parapets, they are re-grouping in the deeps of the Hornburg.

    Things CAN get worse, but the witness of the Church has been so weakened from within by Satan that the State hardly needs to resort to very drastic measures. Indeed, if Old Scratch can keep us focused on politics instead of making our lives holy through prayer, charity and the Sacraments, he will be happy enough to do so.

    Don’t mistake this for pessimism. The truth is, I think spiritually speaking the Church is near Her nadir in the West. From here we can build, and I do see that happening in a number of ways. The unity of the Bishops on this HHS mandate strikes me like a trumpet blast. “Arise, Men of the West!”

    So, the HHS mandate has been a very foolish maneuver on the part of this administration (I believe it was likely driven by the dissident Sebelius and was not originally Obama’s idea). I do not believe it will stand, but I also think it would be disastrous afterward for us to spend even two seconds patting ourselves on the back for its defeat. Want to strike a blow for the Church Militant? Get thee to a confessional.

  • Rich Maffeo

    Well written and not far-fetched, judging from where we were just a few short decades ago, and where we are today. I address your thesis in a slightly different way on my blog: My latest post addresses the HHS Mandate. An earlier one, Holy Mother Church and Child Abuse (posted May 25) addresses the lack of discipline from the hierarchy. Unless things change, your scenario might become real-life. God help us.

  • Barbara

    The Catholic Church has survived for 2000 years and no administration in any country will destroy it. I cannot take this post seriously – sorry!

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    The post doesn’t say anyone will destroy the Catholic Church.

  • Ron19

    A few years ago, I read Michael O’Brien’s “Eclipse of The Sun”, the third book of a trilogy, about just this kind of situation in a near-future Canada. What made it especially scary was that Mark Steyn and LifeSiteNews had been describing many of the kinds of things written in these books.

    The first two books described how society had gone in that direction.

    One reason the draft was so effective in WWII is that it only took a small slice of eligibles at a time. First, young single males of a certain age; then slightly older single males; etc. There were lots of volunteers at the time, so taking a few extras wasn’t something that got a lot of complaints. After a few more takings, everybody knew somebody that was already serving, so you couldn’t complain about drafting a few more. And so on.

    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    Whether for good or bad, the technique works.

  • Hope

    Rebuke despair!!! Pray for the protection of religious liberty. Join in the Fortnight for Freedom:

  • Connie

    Do you mean the Franco that let Hitler practice for WWII by bombing Guernica on market day?

  • RGB

    Where are the churches in Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania (home of Saint Augustin). Before the year 600 this places were Catholic. The Church has survived and indeed will survive, but it does not guarantee that it will survive in a single country like the U.S. The destruction of the Church is indeed very possible at a national or regional level. We may be headed to where the churches were in Soviet Russia for seventy years or how the Church is today in China and Vietnam.

  • Gail Finke

    They haven’t happened so far, I wouldn’t hold my breath. I think Fr. L’s prediction is far more likely. There are many types of persecution, and many types of slavery.