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This is Not Our First Rodeo, But is it Our Last?

April 24, AD2013 22 Comments

\"Patti

For those who think the world has gone mad, remember this is not our first rodeo. Sanity has only been with us in bits and pieces throughout history. Evil and persecution is a mainstay on this planet. For a time, some of us were lured into complacency back when television was wholesome, babies were protected blessings, and it seemed we all agreed on what was evil and what was good.

But changes in attitude are happening fast and furiously–emphasis on furious. For instance, it seems like just yesterday (1996 to be exact) that it was safe to defend traditional marriage. That was the year Bill and Hillary Clinton supported the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as between one man and one woman only to later change their minds. Now, if you say you are in favor of traditional marriage, you will be persecuted faster than you can say Chick-Fil-A.

Let’s not be surprised, however. “Remember what I told you: \’A servant is not greater than his master.\’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20).

Jesus Christ was the first persecuted Christian, followed by his apostles. In the year 67, the Roman emperor, Nero, set fire to the city of Rome and blamed it on the Christians. Then, he ordered unimaginable tortures and death to Christians throughout the Roman Empire, including St. Paul and St. Peter. And so it began and continues to this day. In Communist and Muslim countries, Christians are obviously persecuted and killed. But there is a bloodless persecution going on among the rest of the world.

Take Comfort

Cheer up, Jesus warned us. There is comfort in that. Things are transpiring, as he knew they would.

It’s also a comfort to not be alone and to be connected with like-minded people. I especially love the wisdom of the Venerable and Most Reverend Fulton John Sheen (1895 – 1979) who saw where we were headed.

“America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”

“The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”

The fact the enemies of God must face is that modern civilization has conquered the world, but in doing so has lost its soul. And in losing its soul it will lose the very world it gained.” ―from, Characters of the Passion: Lessons on Faith and Trust.

“Very few people believe in the devil these days, which suits the devil very well. He is always helping to circulate the news of his own death. The essence of God is existence, and He defines Himself as: \’I am Who am.\’ The essence of the devil is the lie, and he defines himself as: \’I am who am not.\’ Satan has very little trouble with those who do not believe in him; they are already on his side.” ―from, Life of Christ

End Times?

This is not our first rodeo, but will it be our last? Some believe we are in the end times. I’d like to say things cannot get any worse, but I’ve been shown otherwise on that statement before.  Seriously though, how much worse can things get? On second thought, don’t answer that question.

Ultimately, it does not matter in the face of eternity. The Christians in the lion’s den could have asked the same question: How much worse can things get? Yes, things are bad now (and good too in many ways). They’ve been bad before. Such is the way of the world.

But here is the bright side: We are not the ones with the problem. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20).

And Jesus is with us: \”I am with you always, until the end of the world\” (Mt. 28:20). Everything is going to be okay.

© 2013. Patti Maguire Armstrong. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author:

Patti Maguire Armstrong and her husband have ten children. She is an award-winning author and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’s Amazing Grace Series. Her newest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families, a collection of stories to inspire family love, and Dear God, I Don't Get It and the sequel, Dear God, You Can't Be Serious; children's fiction that feeds the soul through a fun and exciting story. Read more at Catholic News and Inspiration and follow her at Twitter. Please "Like" her Facebook pages: DearGodBooks, BigHeartedFamilies, and A GPS Guide to Heaven and Earth.

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  • Mary Ann

    What an awesome pep talk, thank you!

    • Patti

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. God bless you.

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  • http://www.healingandempowerment.blogspot,.com Phil Dzialo

    To add a bit to the conversation:
    Early Christianity, in the first three centuries, was nowhere as extensive as claimed and not for the reasons one would suspect:

    “Bart D. Ehrman, Chairman of the Dept. of Religious Studies at the Univ. of North
    Carolina (Princeton Theological Seminary M.A.Div and PhD magna cum laude) outlines
    five “myths” about early Christian persecution in his lectures “From Jesus to
    Christianity”. These are:
    Myth 1- Christianity was an illegal religion in the empire, constantly opposed by the
    Roman emperors. In point of fact, it was never declared illegal by an emperor until the
    middle of the 3rd century (Decius 249-51). The emperors almost never were involved
    with Christian persecution.
    Myth 2 – During the first three centuries, Christians were everywhere hunted down and
    martyred for their faith. In fact, in most times and places, Christianity was tolerated, just
    as other religions were.
    Myth 3 – Christian had to go into hiding in the Roman catacombs to avoid detection. In
    fact, Christians did not have to go into hiding, and they certainly did not set up camp in
    the Roman catacombs.
    Myth 4 – Many, many thousands of Christian died in the early persecutions. In fact, the
    number was probably in the hundreds.
    Myth 5 – Christians were opposed because they worshipped Jesus as God, which was
    seen as a threat to the Roman belief that the emperor was god. In fact, there was no
    difficulty in worshipping Jesus as God. The problem was not who the Christian
    worshipped, but whom they refused to worship: the Roman gods and at times, the
    emperor.”

    Yes Christians were persecuted for many centuries, but that is half the story:

    1. Many more Jews were persecuted during the Shoah.
    2. The Catholic Church was very complicit in the Rwanda genocide. Priests referred to Tutsi peoples and called them “cockroaches”; leading them into RC Churches to be slaughtered by the Hutus…RC priests were directly involved in the genocide.
    3. Until the early 20th century, Catholics persecuted Jews because they directly blamed them for Jesus’ death
    4. Egypt imprisons Bahai’s and some Muslim sects
    5. China tolerates NO religion
    6. The surpression of religion in Tibet
    7. Islamist extremists’ rage has the power to transform small, local conflicts into infernos that can snuff out lives thousands of miles away. Threatened targets of religious hatred today include Hindus, Sunnis, Shiites, Bahais and Jews, but the most widely menaced are Christians. A Pew Forum study last year found that Christians are persecuted—by independent groups or governments—in 131 of the 193 countries in the world.
    8.
    9.
    10.

    All religions are persecuted somewhere. Christians to not have a monopoly on religious persecution. The newest trend is Islamophobia…

    Until we arrive at the point where we no longer believe there is only ONE path to justice and salvation, there will be persecution by those who believe they have the sole possession of the Truth.

  • http://the-american-catholic.com/ Donald R. McClarey

    “Myth 1- Christianity was an illegal religion in the empire, constantly opposed by the
    Roman emperors. In point of fact, it was never declared illegal by an emperor until the
    middle of the 3rd century (Decius 249-51). The emperors almost never were involved
    with Christian persecution.”

    Rubbish. The Christians were first persecuted under Nero, perhaps under Claudius. Tacitus and Suetonius are quite clear on the Neronian persecution. The letter from Pliny the Younger to the Emperor Trajan indicates imperial involvement in the persecution of Christians.

    ” Myth 2 – During the first three centuries, Christians were everywhere hunted down and
    martyred for their faith. In fact, in most times and places, Christianity was tolerated, just
    as other religions were.”

    Incorrect. The persecutions were not constant, but Christianity was always a proscribed faith until the Edict of Toleration of Constantine. Some emperors were persecutors and some were not, but Christianity did not enjoy the protection of the law until Constantine.

    “Myth 3 – Christian had to go into hiding in the Roman catacombs to avoid detection. In
    fact, Christians did not have to go into hiding, and they certainly did not set up camp in
    the Roman catacombs.”

    Christians did conduct mass in the Catacombs in Rome during periods of persecution. House churches were the norm during the early centuries of Christianity in most locales because of the ever present threat of renewed persecution.

    “Myth 4 – Many, many thousands of Christian died in the early persecutions. In fact, the
    number was probably in the hundreds.”

    Incorrect. At least 3000 Christians probably died in the Diocletian persecution alone. Tacitus indicates that Nero probably amassed a fairly high body count among his Christian victims.

    ” Myth 5 – Christians were opposed because they worshipped Jesus as God, which was
    seen as a threat to the Roman belief that the emperor was god. In fact, there was no
    difficulty in worshipping Jesus as God. The problem was not who the Christian
    worshipped, but whom they refused to worship: the Roman gods and at times, the
    emperor.”

    The refusal of the Christians to engage in worship of the Emperor was the pretext for persecution. Christians tended to be unpopular because pagan opponents spread rumors about them accusing them of cannibalism, eating the body of Jesus and drinking His blood, and incest, Christians called each other brother and sister. At bottom Christianity made its adherents a people set apart, adhering to a strict moral code that countenanced neither abortion nor infanticide, and seeking fellowship with fellow Christians. That alone, as we see today, is more than enough to make Christians unpopular with some people.

    “1. Many more Jews were persecuted during the Shoah.”

    Actually more Christians were killed in the Holocaust than Jews. About six million Jews died and eleven million gentiles, most Christians. The last century was the true Age of Martyrs for Christians.

    “2. The Catholic Church was very complicit in the Rwanda genocide. Priests referred to Tutsi peoples and called them “cockroaches”; leading them into RC Churches to be slaughtered by the Hutus…RC priests were directly involved in the genocide.”

    And other priests and sisters saved those under threat of death. The ethnic hatreds fanned in that country had nothing to do with religion and attempting to scapegoat the Church for them has been a popular exercise in avoiding the complicity of tribal politics as being the root cause of the bloodbath.

    “3. Until the early 20th century, Catholics persecuted Jews because they directly blamed them for Jesus’ death”

    Rubbish. Actually the popes were usually protectors of the Jews throughout the Middle Ages against violent anti-semitism.

    “4. Egypt imprisons Bahai’s and some Muslim sects”
    The main victims of religious persecution in Egypt are the copts who have suffered bouts of persecution and casual murder since the Muslim conquest in the seventh century.

    “5. China tolerates NO religion”
    Not quite true. The current regime tolerates “official” churches like the Patriotic Catholic Church. The underground churches are thriving and China, in the fullness of time, may become the major center of Christianity.
    “6. The surpression of religion in Tibet”
    See my answer to 5.
    “7. Islamist extremists’ rage has the power to transform small, local conflicts into infernos that can snuff out lives thousands of miles away. Threatened targets of religious hatred today include Hindus, Sunnis, Shiites, Bahais and Jews, but the most widely menaced are Christians. A Pew Forum study last year found that Christians are persecuted—by independent groups or governments—in 131 of the 193 countries in the world.”
    Sadly correct, although the political dimension of the jihadists should not be overlooked, using Islam as merely a pretext.
    8.
    9.
    10.

    “All religions are persecuted somewhere. Christians to not have a monopoly on religious persecution. The newest trend is Islamophobia…”

    I doubt if any Christians have even claimed to be the only ones persecuted. As for Islamophobia, I think most people do not fear Islam. They fear terrorism conducted in the name of Islam.

    “Until we arrive at the point where we no longer believe there is only ONE path to justice and salvation, there will be persecution by those who believe they have the sole possession of the Truth.”

    Some of the nastiest persecutions in history have been implemented by scoundrels who believed in little other than their own power. The atheist regimes of the last century are proof that huge death tolls can be amassed by those who believe that there is nothing beyond the grave.

    • http://www.healingandempowerment.blogspot,.com Phil Dzialo

      Sources/references for assertions, please

    • Bert

      Thanks for the corrections, Donald. Unfortunately, there will always be people like Phil who *want* to believe that the Catholic Church is evil and directs the misdeeds of all Catholics throughout the world. We’re all puppets of the Vatican, didn’t you know?

    • http://www.healingandempowerment.blogspot,.com Phil Dzialo

      Just so we get it right:
      Although the Catholic Church was persecuted in the Third Reich, Catholics as a group were not officially targeted by the Nazis merely for practicing the Catholic faith. In fact, a substantial minority of the population of the Third Reich was baptized Catholic, including some members of the Nazi elite. The Nazis did try to systematically undermine the Church’s influence and teachings through propaganda and cracked down hard on individual clergymen who dared to criticize the policies of the regime. Members of the clergy who were unwilling to embrace the Nazi state risked arrest for a myriad of violations: refusal to remove religious artifacts from schools; participation in religious processions; political criticism from the pulpit; assistance to public enemies such as Jews; pacifism, etc. Punishment ranged from a few days in jail to internment in a concentration camp to execution. Often, members of the clergy died under ambiguous circumstances while serving a sentence or awaiting trial, with their deaths officially attributed to accident or illness. Catholic laity who were unwilling to submit to Nazi rule faced similar persecution. In the eastern European regions, millions of Poles — Jews and Catholics alike — were murdered by the SS and police personnel in the field or in killing centers such as Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. In the ideology of the Nazis, the Poles were considered an inferior “race.” The Germans intended to murder members of the political, cultural and military elite and reduce the remainder of the Polish population to the status of a vast pool of labor for the so-called German master race. It is estimated that between 5 and 5.5 million Polish civilians, including 3 million Polish Jews, died or were killed under Nazi occupation. This figure excludes Polish civilians and military personnel who were killed in military or partisan operations. They number approximately 664,000. SS authorities in the concentration camps did not generally record the religious affiliation of a prisoner, with the exception of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. As a result it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to reliably estimate the total number of Catholic victims who were persecuted or killed because of some action or position connected to their Catholic faith. Some data exists regarding the number of Catholic prisoners (especially members of the clergy) in individual camps.

      Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

    • http://www.healingandempowerment.blogspot,.com Phil Dzialo
  • http://the-american-catholic.com/ Donald R. McClarey

    Specify. I assume you are familiar with Tacitus, Suetonius and Pliny. The body count of the Diocletian persecution is the low end estimate by Frend in his Martyrdom and Persecution. The body count of the Holocaust is taken from the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

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  • hammar

    Patti,
    What a great article and a very clear way to re-think the world of today which we are living in.
    Not only with the murder of the innocent day in and day out, terrorism is on the rise, media propaganda is
    flooding our minds through the internet, television and so on. I beg everyone to attend Holy Mass and receive
    the flesh and blood of our Lord and God, Jesus. Communion is the only thing they can not desecrate. Pray everyday. HF

  • Erick C

    I love your article Patti, it is great to hear encouraging words from someone speaking for us Catholics hear in the US and others across the world.

  • http://the-american-catholic.com/ Donald R. McClarey
  • http://the-american-catholic.com/ Donald R. McClarey

    In regard to Nazi persecution of the Church:

    In regard to Hitler here are a few of his many diatribes against the Church contained in his “Table Talk” compiled following the war from notes taken at the time he spoke:

    ‘The war will be over one day. I shall then consider that my life’s final task will be to solve the religious problem. Only then Will the life of the German native be guaranteed once and for all.”

    “The evil that’s gnawing our vitals is our priests, of both creeds. I can’t at present give them the answer they’ve been asking for, but it will cost them nothing to wait. It’s all written down in my big book. The time will come when I’ll settle my account with them, and I’ll go straight to the point.”

    “I don’t know which should be considered the more dangerous: the minister of religion who play-acts at patriotism, or the man who openly opposes the State. The fact remains that it’s their maneuvers that have led me to my decision. They’ve only got to keep at it, they’ll hear from me, all right. I shan’t let myself be hampered by juridical scruples. Only necessity has legal force. In less than ten years from now, things will have quite another look, I can promise them.”

    “We shan’t be able to go on evading the religious problem much longer. If anyone thinks it’s really essential to build the life of human society on a foundation of lies, well, in my estimation, such a society is not worth preserving. If’ on the other hand, one believes that truth is the indispensable foundation, then conscience bids one intervene in the name of truth, and exterminate the lie.”

    “Once the war is over we will put a swift end to the Concordat. It will give me the greatest personal pleasure to point out to the Church all those occasions on which it has broken the terms of it. One need only recall the close cooperation between the Church and the murderers of Heydrich. Catholic priests not only allowed them to hide in a church on the outskirts of Prague, but even allowed them to entrench themselves in the sanctuary of the altar.”

    “The fact that I remain silent in public over Church affairs is not in the least misunderstood by the sly foxes of the Catholic Church, and I am quite sure that a man like the Bishop von Galen knows full well that after the war I shall extract retribution to the last farthing. And, if he does not succeed in getting himself transferred in the meanwhile to the Collegium Germanium in Rome, he may rest assured that in the balancing of our accounts, no “T” will remain uncrossed, no “I” undotted!”

    Hitler’s hatred of the Church was well-represented in his henchmen:

    “National Socialist and Christian concepts are incompatible. The Christian Churches build upon the ignorance of men and strive to keep large portions of the people in ignorance because only in this way can the Christian Churches maintain their power. On the other hand, National Socialism is based on scientific foundations. Christianity’s immutable principles, which were laid down almost two thousand years ago, have increasingly stiffened into life-alien dogmas. National Socialism, however, if it wants to fulfill its task further, must always guide itself according to the newest data of scientific researches.”

    Martin Bormann, Chief of the Nazi Party Chancellery, 1942

    Go to the link below to a sermon by Bishop Von Galen, the Lion of Munster as to the persecution of the Church by the Nazis:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2011/03/20/von-galen-contra-the-crooked-cross/

    The scale of the Nazi persecution of the Church can be imagined by the fact that some 2,579 priests were imprisoned in one concentration camp, Dachau, and of these 886 perished:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/06/15/catholic-priests-of-dachau/

    In Poland six bishops, 2,030 priests, 127 seminarians, 173 lay brothers and 243 nuns were murdered by the Nazis.

    Victory in World War II spared not only the remaining Jews in Europe, but also spared Christians in Europe a continuing martyrdom on a scale to match the exterminations seen in the Soviet Union.

    • Siegfried Paul

      I would want you to describe who persecuted Christians in France after 1938: that could make things clear. Napoleonic monarchism was admired by Nazi Germany: all seems to be forgotten. I was a home tutor of the sons of Pierre de Boisdeffre, http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2002/jun/15/guardianobituaries.booksobituaries , the author of the novel LES FINS DERNIERES that Americans who speak French could read before looking at Germany and Austria. I thought at the moment this book on the “collaboration” of France with Nazi Germany is trying to do what Jesus tells us to do – MATTHEW 5:23-24: “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” – I stood before the altar with Pierre de Boisdeffre in a church in the Berry.

    • Siegfried Paul

      I add, because Queen Maxima, http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/DPCd_wWNumc/Queen+Beatrix+Visits+Singapore/a-pYvGAJ_aD/Princess+Maxima , reminds us of the dynasty of Napoleon and because she reminds us that there is no title “QUEEN OF QUEENS”, I add: Jesus is not the “KING OF KINGS” of the REVELATION of the disciple whom Jesus loves – “17:14″ – http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%2019&version=KJV . Jesus could not be given “a name …, that no man knew but he himself”, “17:12″, never. It is our life to be taught the name of Jesus: as the end of the REVELATION does. – I add, though, at the moment, if you think that I am wrong, that we should at least hesitate to call Jesus the “KING OF KINGS” of the REVELATION until we have said what the “rod of iron” – “17:15″ – is and until we have said why the name is written on “the thigh” – “17:16″ – and until we have said what the “horse” – “17:11″ – is a symbol of. – Horses certainly suffer from automobiles, we agreed with those that think there should be no horse-drawn cabs, in Vienna for example where the automobile dominates.

    • Siegfried Paul

      I correct – I quoted chapter “19″: “19:16″ etc., not “17:14″, http://www.gotquestions.org/King-of-kings-Lord-of-lords.html ; I had already said that the LAMB cannot be Jesus either because the LAMB is the TEMPLE of ZION, s. REVELATION – “21:22″. But the TEMPLE passes away – “11:19″.

  • Chris

    Wow, thanks Donald. That is really helpful stuff.

  • http://www.littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com Leila

    Thank you for this! Such an encouraging article. And, thanks, Donald, for your wealth of information!

  • Jamie

    I’m going to pass this encouragement on to my family–some of whom DO fear that the end is near. Me? I’m asking Christ to “come in glory for Pete’s sake” every day! Yes, there’s nothing new under the sun. Man has not dreamed up any new or brilliant ways to offend God. But there’s a subtle tone to the current rodeo that’s different, don’t you think?