The Seed of the Church

Kyle Rosser, Guest Columnist

In today’s world, it appears that the culture of our postmodern society is at odds with the Catholic Church and its teachings. Whether it is on the topics of marriage, human sexuality, life issues or many other things, the Church is akin to a ship set adrift on a raging sea. This is not the first, nor will it probably be the last, time that the Church has been attacked and ridiculed by the society around it.

In the days of the early Church, Christians were persecuted relentlessly for their beliefs. The Romans saw Christianity and its beliefs as a threat to the well-being of society. Under such Roman emperors as Nero and Diocletian, Christians were blamed for the destruction of the social, cultural and religious structures of the time. For these fraudulent offenses, the Romans killed countless Christians in the name of protecting society from their “dangerous” ideas. Yet, the Church prevailed against the persecutions of Rome and rose to become the strongest force in Medieval Europe. Throughout the Medieval period, the Church and society were intertwined and heavily supported each other. Only at the onset of the Enlightenment period did thinkers begin to challenge the Church. I am not saying that the Enlightenment should be condemned because it questioned the Church, but what I am saying is that the current climate was born out of Enlightenment and later individualistic ideas. The Church now appears to be close to returning to the same relationship that it had with the Roman society.

While actual martyrs have become less frequent in today’s world, we have encountered a new type of martyrdom: the martyrdom of the spirit, of the mind and of the voice. This involves the persecution online, in the media and in everyday life of the teachings and values of the Church. Whether it be the abortion movement, the effects of a hyper-sexualized culture or other extreme liberal ideas, it is hard to go one day without seeing articles claiming the Church to be guilty of hate crimes and hate speech. If not the Church directly, then one can still see the ideas that the Church stands for being attacked. David Barrett discusses the most recent example of this attack on Church teaching in an article published online on March 25, 2019 for the Catholic Herald, entitled “Catholic beliefs on abortion and gay marriage ‘could become hate crime.’” Barrett quotes Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office Director Anthony Horan saying that “There is a real danger that expressing or even holding individual or collective opinions or beliefs will become a hate crime.” It appears that a real fear and worry has spread throughout the Church, a fear that there may be attempts at new persecutions or attempts to silence those who stand up for the truth and the doctrines of the faith.

As I pointed out in my previous column, we must not be afraid to stand up and defend our Church and our beliefs against the current onslaught. Jesus told us at the end of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12). Just as our brothers and sisters in Christ boldly stood up against their attackers to defend the faith in times of old, so too are we called to be willing to embrace the truth that the Church teaches us and to not be afraid.

The martyrs of the Roman period have become some of the most venerated saints, and I believe that the martyrs of the postmodern society will become venerated in a similar way centuries from now. As Tertullian said in his Apologeticus: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”