These days I began reading my choice of a book about Constantine for this anniversary year of the Edict of Milan.
The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom
Peter J. Leithart.
Inter-Varsity Press, Downersgrove, 2010. Kindle Edition.
I am only just starting Chapter 4, but I like the author's approach and will have a review of the whole book for you at some point.
For now, reading it is provoking some thoughts on what appears to be the start or continuance of a general persecution, world-wide, of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. No doubt these words are an exaggeration, but Leithart very well describes what the Church endured before Constantine and I see more similarities than not to what we are facing today. I haven't as yet found the author writing about our temporal deliverance from persecution, but we could certainly use a defender and ally like Constantine to turn a world around:
"About noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, Conquer by this." EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA (Kindle Locations 645-646). While revitalizing Christendom may not be necessary for the salvation of souls, I rather suspect that it could be a marvelous and mighty instrument for evangelization. Too many are being handed over to idolatry without ever having had the opportunity to know Christ and the salvation He won for us upon the Cross.
Why so alarmist in talking about a general persecution of the Church? I guess my worries are principally lexical and I wish to blame them in part on Fr. Z (with all due respect). Yesterday, Father posted again the WOC's most popular video ever: "Ordain a Lady", which plays off a pop tune "Call me Maybe"... I think he did it as an act of bravado, a laugh in the face, if you will, at NCReportor's launch of new efforts to get women ordained in the Catholic Church (a declaration of war against Pope Francis?). What dawned on me as I watched the silly video was that here, as with many very profound moral issues, time and aggression on the part of the Enemy has robbed me of my lexicon for protest. Long gone is the time when I can say any more than that such a video is silly. If you ask me to date the last time Catholics could be counted upon to agree with me that watching girls dance around in full liturgical vestments (reserved for divine worship) is "sacrilegious" I'd guess it has been some years. In the meantime, I've also been deprived of describing such a scene as "transgressive". That word seems to have fallen out of use entirely. I'm left without a lexicon to describe such. There are many other examples I could have chosen, but this one cries out to heaven in clowning with vestments, just as the lyrics in the video seek to ridicule excommunication as harmless.
Isn't it a bit of a leap to jump from there to the fear of general persecution? I think not. Not only have we lost our lexical props but we enjoy neither sympathy nor respect. Next thing will be that anyone who sees us can kill us (as happens many places in the world today). Also yesterday, I came across a notice about a sportswear company which cut its losses, pulling a pair of women's running tights from the market immediately, when they discovered that the pattern was that of a body tattoo sacred to Samoans and reserved only for men... As I say, we got no respect.
Personally, I guess I would be happy with an even hand in the public sector. That what is sacred to me would be indeed respected. What is the difference between clowning around in my vestments and vandalizing my churches or spitting on my priests? Best of times? Worst of times? I guess my point is that I want my lexicon back and I want others to accept the notion of sacred and reserved on my terms.