By REY FLORES
Around this time each year, the “war on Christmas” campaigns begin again. Never mind that Advent comes before Christmas, but for the sake of this specific column, I will stay on the topic of the overall war on Christians.
Even before our Thanksgiving turkeys are thawed, most major retailers, some homeowners, and even apartment dwellers in the cities have already put up their Christmas lights and Christmas trees. Of course, in today’s politically correct climate, we must refer to these things as “holiday lights” and “holiday trees.”
The same thing goes for public displays of any Christian symbolism, particularly Nativity mangers in the public square. The same curmudgeons decrying these symbols are the same ones trying to remove God from everything from our currency to the Pledge of Allegiance.
Yes, these are some of the battles we read about in the headlines and discuss with our friends over coffee after Mass at our respective parishes, but there are battles taking place on a daily basis that are much more significant.
I have worked in certain environments in the past where I was not allowed to display a holy card bearing an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary. I’m certain many of you reading this may have similar restrictions in your workplaces.
For a moment, no matter where you work, think about all of the times you have had to defend your Catholic faith against biased, unfair, ignorant, and just plain evil attacks.
It’s pretty bad, isn’t it?
If for some reason you have not faced any adversity because of your Catholic faith at work, at home, or anywhere else for that matter, perhaps you might not be standing up for the truth enough. That doesn’t mean we’re to go out and deliberately start fights with people based on a false and uncharitable self-righteousness, but it does mean that perhaps we aren’t challenging those around us enough to become better Christ-like people.
At a car dealership where I once worked, one of my managers, a lapsed Catholic, always threw around comments that painted the Catholic Church as a bunch of money-grubbers, while rudely rubbing his thumbs with his middle and index fingers. I promptly told him that if that were truly the case with our Church, he’d make the perfect Catholic precisely because he himself was a money-grubbing car salesman.
Another time when I was a communications specialist for the Service Employees International Union — yes, that SEIU — we had weekly staff meetings, which were more like political pep rallies. The local’s president once made an off-the-cuff remark, entirely unrelated to any topic we had been discussing, when he said, “We’ll show those pro-lifers who’s in charge around here!”
In addition, my direct supervisor at that union had a husband who was the publisher for the über-liberal and anti-Christian In These Times magazine. Often, she left copies of the magazine lying around the office where Christians were openly mocked in word and illustration.
Another thing that did not sit well with these union folks was the fact that I refused to go door-knocking in Wisconsin for nine days on behalf of pro-abortion John Kerry’s failed presidential bid. The straw that broke the camel’s back and eventually got me fired was when I attempted to organize the local’s union staff to gain protection from management because they were persecuting me, based on my religious beliefs.
As a disclaimer, my job at the union was mainly to do newsletters for the rank-and-file members, where I interviewed them and photographed them at their workplaces. It was my way to work directly with the members in recognizing their humanity as much more than just being union members.
I met with many terrific people, many of whom were Catholic, but literally enslaved, through their forced union dues, to participate in the union’s liberal political activities contrary to our faith. These were “salt of the earth” gravediggers, home health-care workers, janitors, beer vendors at White Sox park, groundskeepers at Soldier Field, and assembly-line workers in the Chicagoland area.
Another challenge was fending off the constant abuses by the Masonic management goons at a rail yard where I worked as a freight train conductor for a few years. The only protection I had there, besides God, was a group of veteran Catholic railroad men who identified me as “one of us,” simply because they saw me wearing my scapular. The Masons eventually won that battle, but I evangelized a whole lot before they got rid of me.
Now those are some of my own experiences and I share them with you to show that we are all under attack as Christians, especially because we are Catholic. The way things are going now in this nation, we should prepare to face more attacks in the very near future.
The removal of God and Christianity has been a long process, and the wheels were put in motion a very long time ago. After all, the forces of evil attempted to “remove” Jesus Himself by the slaughter of the Holy Innocents and by crucifying Him.
Ours is not so much to lament and worry or even to avoid suffering. We in fact are called to suffer and that is a good thing. It is a blessing, a gift of redemption in a world full of sin and pain.
We Catholics do battle in our daily crusade to stand up for the Truth of Jesus Christ and His One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We mustn’t miss the opportunities we are blessed with to bring more souls to the faith and ultimately to eternal salvation with the Father.
While today I am blessed to work in a pro-life, Catholic environment and I also write for a terrific Catholic publication, I still seek out the challenges to bring more souls to Christ’s Kingdom. My own parents and sisters — please keep them in prayer — are ongoing projects, all baptized Catholic, but all lapsed.
Remember that in John 15:18-19, Christ tells us: “If the world hateth you, know ye, that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
Yes, the world may hate us, but from John 15:26-27, we know that we are never alone: “But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me. And you shall give testimony, because you are with me from the beginning.”
Let us do battle in our daily crusades. Each moment is an opportunity to let others know that there is a way, a truth, and a light. I pray that all of you will boldly proclaim God’s Kingdom and defend our Catholicism in the many areas of your lives.
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(Rey Flores is available for speaking engagements and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)