Thoughts on Persecution: Being on the Right Side of History

Cardinal-Francis-George_110516_photoby_Adam-Bielawski “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.” This is probably the most famous saying of Cardinal Francis George, who was laid to rest after a beautiful celebration of his life just one week ago today. Francis George was also the Archbishop of Chicago—a shepherd who was said to “smell like his sheep” (as Pope Francis says good priests will do).

For those of us living in America today, that dramatic statement seems more than a little prophetic. Here’s the end of the speech in which that pronouncement was made, and I think it’s well worth considering:

“God sustains the world, in good times and in bad. Catholics, along with many others, believe that only one person has overcome and rescued history: Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, savior of the world and head of his body, the church. Those who gather at his cross and by his empty tomb, no matter their nationality, are on the right side of history. Those who lie about him and persecute or harass his followers in any age might imagine they are bringing something new to history, but they inevitably end up ringing the changes on the old human story of sin and oppression. There is nothing “progressive” about sin, even when it is promoted as “enlightened.”

“The world divorced from the God who created and redeemed it inevitably comes to a bad end. It’s on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters. The Synod on the New Evangelization is taking place in Rome this month because entire societies, especially in the West, have placed themselves on the wrong side of history.”

(Taken from the National Catholic Register, April 19, 2015, concerning Cardinal Francis George, who died last week.)

“There is no guarantee that the battle-front may not stretch some day into our own land. Hodie mihi cras tibi. (Today it’s me; tomorrow, you). If we show no interest in this matter now, if we shrug our shoulders and mutter … it is not our fight, if we don’t back up the Holy Father when we have a chance, well, when our turn comes, we too will be fighting alone.” (—May 18, 1937, spoken by Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago just before World War 2.)

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
(2 Timothy 3:12)

(Picture from Wiki Commons by Adam Bielawski, GNU Free Documentation License)

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Persecution: Being on the Right Side of History

  1. Good words, and necessarily and wisely said. Too many people are living in denial, or seemingly unaware of history, past or present, and no care for the future. The world will not go on as it is indefinitely, and like always, a few will carry the brunt of the responsibly, while others will languish in ignorant busyness.

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