This morning as I prayed the Divine Office, I went through the depths of the temptation to lash back at Pope Benedict XVI's (and therefore OUR) persecutors. I read these words with gritted teeth:
When I reached the end of that passage, I was ready to pray the imprecatory psalms - those psalms that are NOT in the psalter or used at Mass. I was ready to, in anger, call down fire and brimstone upon those who so hate us and so hate Christ.
Then I read on:
Having finished that section, I was amazed at how quickly I had passed from near-rage into calm thoughtfulness, and even...trust. That's when it hit me.
We faithful Catholics are angry. We are angry about the abuse of children, yes, but also angry at the continuing abuse of these victims at the hands of money-grubbing, vile souls who are victimizing them again, all for personal gain. We are angry at the bigoted media vipers and their henchmen who ignore the facts and instead perpetuate lies against the Holy Father. Oh, yes, we are angry, and many bloggers, Catholic journalists, and Catholics on the street are fighting back. Some honorably, and with use of intellect and reason. Others, though, are lashing back with the same kind of anger and hatred as our attackers.
I realized in that moment, that this is the last temptation of the Bride. THIS is what is separating the proverbial goats from the sheep. THIS is a true test of the entire Mystical Body of Christ. Who will be ripped from the Head that is Christ, by their own choosing and behavior, and who will remain and follow the example of Jesus Himself?
Jesus was ridiculed, and false charges heaped upon him. He was beaten, he was scourged, even having been judged as innocent by the AUTHORITIES who had juris diction of this type of proceeding! Jesus was dragged into dungeons and a crown of thorns placed on His head. He dragged His heavy cross up the hill and outside the gate to the Place of the Skull where he was nailed to that terrible tree in utter humiliation and made to face the whole world in His nakedness.
And He uttered not a word.
Jesus did not respond to His persecutors. He did not "correct" them. He did not come to His own defense, but took the assault as though what was happening to Him actually meant something else.
Oh, yes, it did. It meant eternal life for His Beloved.
When Jesus DID speak, He prayed for mercy for those who crucified Him. He told the repentant thief who was crucified next to him that he would join Him in Paradise. He PRAYED for MERCY for His Persecutors!
How we react in these terrible days, as faithful Catholics, will forever speak of us as a Church, as the Bride of Christ, as the Mystical Body. How we respond, personally or professionally or both, will speak to the world of our Faith....or lack thereof.
Do we give into the temptation to lash out? Or instead, do we turn into the Church Militant and do what we are called to do?
We are called to fall down on our knees and beg for mercy for the Holy Father's, and our persecutors! THAT'S the battle! THAT'S the frontline! THAT is what will turn the tide and send the enemies scattering in terror! BEG for mercy for them for indeed, they know NOT what they do! We want to pray for ourselves, that we will have the same zeal for the salvation of souls as did Christ himself!
Do not fall into the temptations that come from the Prince of this world, but rather, look to the Cross of Our Lord and the Salvation that is found in Christ alone. Look to His vicar, Pope Benedict XVI who guides us by his own example, which clearly is patterned after Christ.
Do you want to know why so many are attacking so strongly? Because they can see the image of Jesus in Pope Benedict XVI's actions, and it sends the demons that possess this world into a frenzy of hatred and terror.
So be it.
We must be as gentle as lambs but more cunning than the wolves that seek to destroy us. Our weapon: prayer for those who persecute us. Love in the face of hatred. Life in the face that calls for death. NOTHING can withstand that kind of power.