Throughout the year we celebrate innumerable feasts of martyrs of every condition and age. Many of them suffered in the ten great Roman persecutions up to the Fourth Century, and in a number of cases, the Christians who had been arrested were simply asked to offer a bit of incense, sometimes a simple grain, to a pagan idol. “Be reasonable! Offer a little of this incense and you can go home to your husband, your wife, your children! If you don’t offer it, you will never see them again, we will put you to death!” And like the old man Eleazar (cf. 2 Mac 6), they would prefer to lose this perishable life and win the crown of Heaven rather than the opposite. They had great faith and they were willing to die for it. They were indeed living the Mass.
We recall these facts of history to help us live our faith today. And right now, right here in Canada, that infamous ‘grain of incense’ has become as insignificant as ‘ticking a box’ on a form, and the idol of the day is the liberal agenda of abortion, homosexuality, gender theory and all the anti-life issues.
During the month of January, it was reported in the news that the Federal Government of Canada made changes to their youth summer jobs program, which provides grant money to various employers to hire students. When they complete the online application form, applicants must agree with the “reproductive rights, along with other human rights", which means explicitly “abortion and gender rights.” Now, unless the electronic form is checked, the applicant organization will not receive funding. Basically, the government is asking non-profit organizations begging for Caesar’s manna to offer a pinch of incense to the modern-day pagan gods, symbolized by the “human rights.” This is really a modern-day version of persecution from the state, and we should never compromise our faith for the sake of grants to be received from the government.
St Paul was inspired and really prepared Christians of all centuries when he wrote back in 67 A.D. “Persecutions, afflictions: such as came upon me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra: what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me. And all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim 3:12)
We may think that the persecution of Christians is something foreign to us, and rather limited to some remote Islamic or Communist countries, while we are safe here in our Western countries, in our warm homes. This pious wish may not be true for long in Canada.
Let this upcoming Lenten season prepare us for the hard times that may be at the door. Let us also make an effort to know better and live fervently the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by generous acts of self-denial and some extra sacrifices