Written By: Lawrence Lam
Today’s saint, St. Callistus, was a 3rd century pope who was martyred in the midst of popular anti-Christian riots. He also lived a ministry of mercy, settling matters that caused great division within the Church. Our own political climate these days sees our civic leaders ushering back in such an age that could lead to this again. Without hyperbole, we already know that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice – our beliefs and practices mocked in popular culture, our churches and services desecrated by protesters, and the laws starting to impose upon us practices that contradict basic moral teachings.
In the recent wikileaks disclosures, we find the staff of the person likely to be the next President of the United States openly discuss the possibility of a “Catholic Spring” that would overturn the hierarchical authority so as to subvert its timeless teachings. The same presidential candidate has a compliant vice-presidential candidate who is supposedly Catholic-educated. In Ontario the leader of the opposition, Catholic-school-educated, forthrightly turned his back on those who advocate for life and family. Likewise with the Catholic Prime Minister of Canada and many of his predecessors, who wore the mantle of the Church yet only acting in contradiction to what She holds up as good. Meanwhile the plurality of the faithful snipe at each other, sowing division and confusion while the greater evil itself to marginalize Catholic values prevails.
Pope Callistus lived in such an era and rose above the division with mercy and beauty. He welcomed back serious sinners into communion after reminded everyone that God’s mercy is boundless. In spite of the meanness of the other side to try to suppress us, we need to be prepared for it, so that we have the solid footing to show grace to our persecutors. Blessed are we who are persecuted if we remember to pray for those who persecute us. To the extent that the law allows us, we will continue to live our lives of faith, hope and love; and study the foundations of our beliefs so that we can explain them, even if it leads to our own martyrdom. The crosses we carry will be the sign of contradiction against temporary cultural norms that will only yield bad fruit.
With the US elections a month away, the world will be watching how we brace for the all out attack on our values, and seeing the smiles on our faces as we refuse to be dominated in whatever situation may arise, it will know that our God reigns.
St. Callistus, pray for us!
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