Can We Change the World?
We too often believe that our Catholic faith changing the world is something that cannot happen today. We look at the apostles baptizing people by the thousands after Jesus’ Ascension and think that such a large conversion isn’t possible anymore. Or we look at the early Christian martyrs, like those portrayed in Quo Vadis, who helped convert the Roman Empire, and think that those days are over.
We do have more recent examples of the Catholic faith conquering evil, repressive regimes. My family just finished watching Thou Shalt Love on EWTN (for free) which is the story of Cardinal Stephen Wsyzynski of Poland. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union conducted an assault on the Catholic Church in Poland trying to break it. The idea was that breaking the Church would break the people and usher in Communism throughout the country. Cardinal Wsyzynski, and later Pope John Paul II, lead the country in a non-violent show of faith that the soviets couldn’t break despite the arrests, the beatings, and the propaganda.
Watching Thou Shalt Love reminded me of the David vs. Goliath matchup which was the Polish people vs. the Soviet Union. The USSR had all the political, educational, and military power in Poland. And yet, they were defeated by processions, Masses, and prayers. People showed up by the thousands to honor Mary and her son, Jesus Christ. And, it was the hand of God who protected the people so that those who came to celebrate their faith didn’t end up arrested, shot, or sent to labor camps on a wide scale. It shows that when people put their faith in God as the Polish people did, we can bring down hallow political movements regardless of their worldly power.
Communism’s True Colors
It’s also important for people to see what is truly behind the face of socialism. It disguises itself behind ideas of equity, fairness, and reasonableness. It almost sounds Christian — let’s all share what we have in one big pool. But one of its core tenants is the destruction of organized religion. This is because Communism cannot compete with ideas that do not confess the state as the ultimate authority. Communism tries to establish the government as the makers of truth or morality and hence needs to destroy peoples’ faith in a higher truth not established by political apparatchiks, but by God.
The Rosary and Christian Witness
The history of Poland reminds me of the Third Luminous Mystery of the Rosary. The fruit of this mystery is Christian witness and conversion. The Polish people showed us the power of publicly witnessing our faith. It had the power to not only protect their country but ultimately help bring down the USSR (watch Nine Days that Changed the World to see the connections). Like the apostles and early Christian church, they showed the power of God if you just put your faith in Him.
We have a similar challenge today as Poland had during the latter half of the 20th century. In fact, our challenge is much more insidious. When your country is taken over by an outside force, many people find the motivation to fight back. But what if the threat comes from within? I’m going to say that’s what’s happening today. We still have attacks on the Catholic Church, particularly over issues like abortion, family, marriage, and gender ideology. But we don’t have priests being arrested and churches closed.
Soft Attacks Hit Hard
Today’s political powers learned that you shouldn’t display a show of force because that will mobilize the opposition. Instead of churches being closed, we had a global pandemic and live-streamed Masses leading to tepid attendance. Instead of arresting priests, we now just don’t have many men choosing that vocation. There are countless avenues of entertainment to keep people distracted. And acts of violence against Christians are covered up or treated as a rare, outlying situation. These soft attacks are doing more harm to the Catholic Church because people don’t even realize they are under attack.
These soft attacks make Rosary prayer all the more important. We need to pray that we remain strong Christian witnesses to our faith. I think part of that witness and conversion is making people realize that we are a Church under attack. Because when people feel comfortable, we aren’t strong Christian witnesses. It’s when there is hardship that we tend to fight back. And while I don’t wish misery on anyone, it’s an effective means of trusting in God and calling on Him to help us both societally and personally.