Blessed Franz Jägerstätter
I thought we already were.
Bishop Jenky preached an excellent homily on April 14 at the Mass for "A Call to Catholic Men of Faith" in Peoria. The homily was on the need for Catholic witness in our times, which bear striking resemblance to the beginings of the totalitarian regimes of the early part of the 20th century. The full text of his homily here.
When I returned to the Church in 1972 I did so by conviction, and though I have faltered over the years, that conviction remains indelibly marked upon my soul. When I first returned, I thought everyone was Catholic by conviction - otherwise, why would they remain tied to a Church and fill certain prescriptions of the law if they weren't convinced. By prescriptions of the law I mean Sunday observance, support of the Church and her ministers, raising children in the faith - as in Catholic schooling - the minimal requirements. Soon I came to understand that the conviction of many may not have been all of that intense. Nevertheless, I thought the obligation to be a Catholic of conviction remained. Now we have a few strong bishops pointing out the fact that not everyone is on board with Catholic teaching, and these bishops, unlike their predecessors, are doing their job to see that faithful Catholics get on board.
I thought of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter in the light of Bishop Jenky's 'call to action'. The great mandate today seems to be evangelization. I've always thought of evangelization along the lines of the Opus Dei model, which for me is much like the little way of St. Therese. Personally, I tend to be slightly repelled by the Bill Donohue/Michael Voris boisterous style of evangelization - although I respect what these types do.
However, I like the St. Thomas Moore/Bl. Jägerstätter approach better. These men lived in fidelity to the Church and Catholic teaching, and when push came to shove, they submitted like sheep before the slaughter, in imitation of Christ crucified. That was their witness. Faithful to the duties of their state in life, to the very end, they were always Catholics by conviction.
A friend sent me the following quote from another blog regarding being out of step with modern culture and the acceptance of contraception:
This is indeed a culture where promiscuity is branded as empowering and contraception is an assumed part of life. So this is not an attack on anyone standing up to the culture. I’ve sat through enough doctor’s visits and sipped my way through enough cocktail parties to know I am viewed as a cultural freak if I’m not on the pill. Speaking out against the pill? Even freakier.His response to me was: "I think the same could be said of those with same sex attraction trying to talk about chastity etc. Talk about a cultural freak."
What I take from the bishop's homily, and these remarks in light of that, is this: So unless your faith, your fidelity is challenged - very often your Catholic conviction doesn't show - and it maybe hasn't cost you anything so far. Threaten, or take away something from our comfortable, self-sufficient selves, and we begin to figure out what being a Catholic by conviction means. As the blogger and the commenter show - they too know what it means to be a Catholic of conviction in our times.
His bishop and priest tried to dissuade Bl. Jägerstätter from his refusal to fight in the war for the Third Reich. After his death, Jägerstätter was criticized by his countrymen, especially Catholics who had served in the military, for failing in his duty as a husband and father. The man had persevered - that's what conviction is. When I returned to the Church in 1972 I began to run into opposition for my fidelity to Church teaching regarding sexuality, which in the 1980's included asking for a support group for men who desired to live according to Church teaching - only to be refused, although Dignity had its supporters in the local Church. (I've written about this in the past, and how Fr. Harvey wrote letters to the Archbishop and so on. It's no longer a problem today.) At the time, bishops and priests refused me their support as well. One learns, as Jägerstätter did, how to persevere and remain faithful even when others do not 'get it' or support you.
All I can say is, welcome to the Roman Catholic Church folks. Troubles and persecution is good for the soul - it makes us stronger and is the stairway to heaven.