"What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course, it is the cross.” - Flannery O'Connor
Things are tough out there for Catholics. Obama is trying to get us to cover birth control as health care, stifling military chaplains along the way, the Komen Foundation gave us whiplash with all its shenanigans last week, and I personally saw how hateful and evil people can be when it comes to standing up for one's beliefs. We are called prejudiced for opposing those things that strike at the very heart of our culture, our personal liberty and our religious freedoms. Men like Rick Santorum, who has been freely elected as a public servant, is subjected to truly horrible personal attacks, and there are some who stoop so low as to poke fun at the death of his child.
Wouldn't it be easier just to quit all this and give up? "Thanks for everything, Pope, but things are just getting too tough for me. Me and my family? We're bailing. First train outta Rome? We're on it."
Yes, we are living in a time of great tribulation, for people of many faiths. Don't think that we Catholics are the only ones suffering - devout Jews are getting slammed, Muslims who stand with us on the sanctity of human life are vilified and our Christian brothers and sisters who believe in the divine institution of marriage are constantly and consistently barraged with hostility.
However, I believe that this is also a time of great opportunity, and history bears this out. Think of St. Catherine of Siena. Europe was in turmoil, to such an extent that the papacy had taken up residence in Avignon. Scandal abounded. She personally would have liked nothing better than retreat to the convent and live a quiet life of prayer. And yet, she allowed God to use her as an instrument of His will.
St. Francis of Assisi is another example. God literally called him to "rebuild My Church". How did St. Francis do it? By living the Gospel and suffering great personal pain, both physical and emotional.
Look at the great men and women of World War II: the Christians who risked their lives to save Jews. There are missionaries today who literally risk their lives to share the message of Christ.
Yes, we are living in a time of great tribulation. But it is a time when we can allow Christ to work through us, wear the symbol of our faith - the Cross - with humility and conviction, and support each other. We are called to be saints - each one of us. Let us become who God created us to be.
We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were
those who had to bear the greatest trials. - St. Teresa of Avila