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The Truest, Most Courageous Love

March 5, 2021 Frontpage No Comments


St. Felicitas was a widow of the second century. She and her seven sons were very strong and devoted Catholics. Despite the Roman persecution against the faith, and despite the threat of horrid tortures and death, Felicitas and her sons not only practiced their faith fervently but also quite openly.
Indeed, their open and fervent practice of the faith won many souls to Christ and His Church. This angered the pagan priests, who complained to Emperor Antoninus. They told the emperor that this family was drawing many of the people away from worship of the gods, which made the gods displeased. The only way the gods could be appeased, they told the emperor, would be when Felicitas and her sons would sacrifice to them.
Both privately and publicly the Roman officials tried to get the family to sacrifice to the gods. Officials used pleading, promises of wealth and privilege, attempts at bribery, and threats of torture and death to get them to relent from the practice of Christianity and to sacrifice to the gods. Nothing they tried worked. When the threats made against her family became serious and inescapable, Felicitas courageously responded, “My children will live eternally with Jesus Christ if they are faithful to Him, but must expect eternal death if they sacrifice to idols.”
Felicitas told her sons, “My sons, look up to Heaven, where Jesus Christ with His saints expects you. Be faithful to His love, and fight courageously for your souls.”
This is how a mother shows her truest, most courageous love for her children.
In their final attempt to force Felicitas and her sons to renounce the faith, the pagan Romans did the cruelest thing they could do to a mother. One by one, before her very eyes, Felicitas’ sons were put to death. They would kill one son, let some time pass to allow her to think about the consequences of not sacrificing to the gods, then kill another son. Felicitas, who suffered the pain of bringing those seven sons into the world, was forced to suffer the pain watching them dispatched into the next world. Four months after watching the murder of her first son, Felicitas was finally beheaded and sent to her eternal glory.
I’m a great lover of history, and I’ve studied American history with a passion since I was a child. While yet a catechumen, I began studying Church history, which really makes the student’s chest swell with pride — especially during those centuries of the Great Roman Persecutions.
And the study of history is necessary if we are to know the proper course to take in virtually everything. As George Santayana once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We Americans have been pathetic at learning from our history, which is why America more resembles pagan Rome today than the republic our founding fathers fought and died to give us nearly two and a half centuries ago.
Insightful people who know and understand history have seen the handwriting on the wall since the Second World War. That war, ending the worst national suffering of our history from the Great Depression, seemed to cause us to lose our sense of sin, as Pope Pius XII lamented. Although American sovereignty and our very existence made it necessary to fight the Axis powers, that global struggle did something to us that has seemed irreversible. We saw so much bloodshed and suffered so much pain from the war that we were willing to do anything to stop it.
Unfortunately, we sold the soul of our nation in the process on the days we dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This make us the only nation in the history of the world to use nuclear explosives in anger and kill untold numbers of civilians indiscriminately, an act the Catholic Church roundly condemned. But that was only the beginning.
World War II also contributed greatly to the dissolution of the family in our country. So many men had gone off to war that married women found themselves working outside the home for the first time to support themselves and their children, and this did something unnatural to the psyche of women. When their husbands returned home from the war, wives were no longer content to be the primary caregivers of the family; they wanted to continue to work outside the home.
This led to a decline in birthrate that dooms baby boomers and subsequent generations to not having enough people in the workforce to help support our economy and us in our old age. The decline in birthrate comes from the morally repulsive action of contraception, which Pope Paul VI very strongly condemned in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, thus reinforcing the Church’s 2,000-year prohibition of the practice. Not only did he condemn contraception in that teaching letter to the faithful, but he also made some predictions at the time of what contraception would lead to…predictions the media hailed as the insane ravings of an old man.
His Holiness predicted the acceptance of abortion and the unholy application of the science of eugenics. How insane were his “ravings”?
All of these things collectively make up what St. John Paul II referred to as the “culture of death.” The culture of death also includes medically nonessential sterilization (including tubal ligation and vasectomy), and the acceptance of homosexuality and the redefinition of marriage as no longer being between Adam and Eve but now to include Adam and Steve.
We have indeed lost our sense of sin . . . along with logic, right reason, and good old common sense. Government has so well managed the separation of Church and state that it has gone so far as to separate the Church from the state. In toto, these grave evils from World War II forward have led to a persecution against Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that has been picking up momentum over the last decade.
How bad is it when the Little Sisters of the Poor are forced by the government to provide contraceptives for people who work for them? It’s likely to get much worse.
The next likely step in the persecution will be countless lawsuits against our priests and bishops because they won’t perform same-sex “marriages” or hire openly practicing homosexuals to teach our Catholic children. In fact, the litigations have already begun.
Then the government will begin taking away the tax exempt status of dioceses and parishes because they won’t toe the government line, striking a financially fatal blow to the Church in America. After all, we can’t survive financially when only 10 percent of our fellow Catholics provide 90 percent of the money needed to support the Church.
Next the government will define discrimination against homosexuals and polygamists so broadly that it will classify such “discrimination” as hate crimes. That is when we will see our priests and bishops move from the civil courtroom to the criminal courtroom, thus depriving us of our clergy. Only a shadow of the Catholic Church will still be in America, much the way the Peoples’ Catholic Church exists as the “official” church in China.
Once our bishops and priests begin to go to prison, it’s only a short step or two to the ultimate act of persecution. The late Francis Cardinal George, OMI, said he would die in his bed, that his successor would die in prison, and that his successor would die a martyr. However, the coming martyrdom won’t stop with the priests and bishops. During the lifetime of most of you readers, martyrdom could reach the laity as well. The time is coming when we will all have to draw from the sacramental graces of Confirmation.
How can we prepare for this momentum-gaining persecution? We must learn our holy and ancient faith as best as we can. However, knowing simply isn’t enough. After all, Satan and his demonic followers know the Catholic faith better than any of us ever will, but knowing it does him absolutely no good. So we must learn the faith, then apply what we learn. We must work harder than ever toward personal sanctity. We have to become as fervent and devoted as St. Felicitas.
If you have a question or comment you can reach out to me through the “Ask Joe” page of JoeSixpackAnswers.com, or you can email me at Joe@CantankerousCatholic.com.
Hey, how would you like to see things like this article every week in your parish bulletin as an insert? You or your pastor can learn more about how to do that by emailing me at Joe@CantankerousCatholic.com.

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