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Are You Prepared for the Coming Persecution?

by FR ROBERT MCTEIGUE  |  published on June 4, 2015

What is the worst ad campaign you’ve ever seen? When I was a boy, I was told about the Chevy Nova, then the best-selling car in America. The story goes that no one bought it in Mexico. Why not? Well, in Latin, “Nova” means “new.” In Spanish, however, “No va” means “doesn’t go.” Apparently, someone didn’t do his homework.

What is the worst ad campaign you’ve ever seen for the faith? When I was a new priest, I found a glossy campus ministry brochure addressed to incoming freshmen. It read, “Liturgy is ‘IN.’ Worship has no social cost!” (Can you imagine the disdain that such words would have stirred up in Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen?) In other words, going to Mass is what all the cool kids are doing this year! “Come join our Catholic hobby!” doesn’t seem to be a compelling rallying cry, does it?

In contrast, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was murdered by the Nazis, wrote in his haunting book, The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.” How might many self-identified Christians respond to that bold and shocking statement? I think they might protest with words like these, “Why would Christ ask us to come and die? Doesn’t He know how busy we are? Doesn’t He know how important we are? We are doing vast and urgent things! Doesn’t He know that we are busy advocating for social justice, reproductive freedom, racial equality, gender equality, inclusion, diversity, tolerance and dialogue? Doesn’t He know that we are busy fighting against racism, sexism, ageism, speciesism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia? Doesn’t He know that we are busy raising awareness about safer sex, climate change, renewable energy, ethanol, recycling, sustainability and income inequality? Doesn’t He know that we are busy apologizing for the Crusades, Galileo, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages? Doesn’t He know that we are busy going to meetings at the United Nations? And now I hear that Fidel Castro is receiving visitors again, and there is ever so much wealth to redistribute, so, really, we simply must—graciously—decline Christ’s invitation to ‘come and die.’” I think many self-identified Christians might say that, or something like it. They seem to suggest as much by their behavior.

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