Defending The Faith

In October 2021, a pregnant girl in South America was considering abortion, but she changed her mind; because of the loving support of pro-life volunteers and priests at a women’s shelter run by the Church, she decided to have her baby. This infuriated a group of radical, pro-abortion feminists, and they reacted by spraying red paint on the walls of the cathedral in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and then marching inside as Mass was being said. When the archbishop declared during his homily that no one has the right to eliminate human life as a means of supposedly solving a problem, the invaders tried to shout him down, disrupt the Mass, and intimidate the congregation—but they encountered some unexpected opposition. Many of the worshippers were from an indigenous tribe native to Bolivia called the Guarayos, who had been evangelized by Franciscan missionaries several centuries earlier. These Bolivians were very proud of their Catholic heritage, and strict disciplinarians when it came to raising their own children. Guarayo women frequently used small, handcrafted whips to threaten rebellious children, and many of them happened to have their whips with them that Sunday morning. Filled with righteous indignation over the disruption of Mass in that sacred space, they pulled out their whips and used them on the invaders, forcing the radical feminists outside, scattering them and driving them off the cathedral property. As one of the Catholic women later told a reporter, their defense of the cathedral was an indication of their determination to resist evil and reject the spiritual slavery being peddled by the culture of death (Church Militant, “The Whip Option,” March 12, 2022).    

Jesus, of course, teaches us to turn the other cheek, to pray for our persecutors, and to repay evil with good—but that doesn’t mean passively going along with society’s mistaken values or refusing to stand up for the truth. There are times when we must be willing to take a stand, resist injustice, and—when necessary—make some waves by pushing back when this world tries to restrict our freedom of religion. Jesus was known for preaching non-violence, but He wouldn’t tolerate any disrespect toward His heavenly Father. In the same way, we must be willing to defend our Catholic Faith when it’s attacked—for this is a sign that we truly love God and desire to be part of His Kingdom.

Because God is our Creator, He understands our human nature far better than we do ourselves—especially after original sin dimmed our intellect and introduced error and confusion into the world. The Lord gave us the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) not for His benefit, but for ours; He forbade certain actions or moral choices because He knew these sins could cause us lasting spiritual harm. Many times these supposed restrictions on our freedom lead us sinners to anger or resentment—but as St. Paul (1 Corinthians 1:22-25) reminds us, the so-called foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom. Jesus’ actions in the Gospel of John (2:13-25) are an illustration of this truth. He had many enemies among the religious leaders, and in their hatred, they were looking for evidence to use against Him. Worldly wisdom suggested that the smart play was for Jesus to keep a low profile and not do or say anything unnecessarily provocative. In His commitment to God’s glory, however, Our Lord did just the opposite, driving the money-changers and merchants out of the Temple and then boldly asserting that He would raise up the true Temple of God—His own Body—in three days. All this made His enemies more determined than ever to destroy Him. Because of His fearless commitment to the truth, many people began to believe in Him—but Jesus, knowing the weakness and fickleness of human nature, did not trust in them; He continued to rely upon God alone for the strength needed to fulfill His mission.

If all members of the Church did the same thing—always asking God for wisdom, strength, and courage—this world would be a much better place. In fact, when future historians ask how humanity could have gone so disastrously off-course during the early 21st century, I think a major part of the answer will be this: Christians in general, and Catholics in particular, were largely absent from the culture wars, didn’t fight back bravely and effectively against society’s attacks and reject its false values, and failed to be salt and light for the world by means of their prayers, sacrifices, and example. Whether we like it or not, we are caught up in the all-encompassing battle between good and evil, in which the devil is trying to dominate the world, destroy the Church, and doom billions of people to eternal damnation. Christ’s final victory is assured—but in the meantime, it often seems satan and his millions of servants—most of them unwitting dupes—are winning by default. There is no such thing as neutrality in this battle, and Christians who don’t take their faith seriously are indirectly helping the cause of evil.

The Guarayo women of Bolivia somehow understood this; they recognized the difference between good and evil, and firmly resisted the latter. We probably aren’t called to use little whips as they did, but we are supposed to stand up for our faith, refuse to be silenced or intimidated by our society, and show the world that we’re proud to be Catholic and unwilling to go along with our country’s culture of death. In practical terms, this may mean taking part in religious and pro-life rallies and marches; becoming informed citizens and contacting our elected leaders when necessary; voting only for morally-acceptable candidates; displaying religious symbols in our homes and on our property; financially supporting action groups and organizations defending traditional moral values; writing letters to the editor or using social media to push back against attempts to limit our religious freedom; sharing good religious videos or literature with family, friends, and acquaintances; defending the Church when it’s unfairly criticized or attacked in our presence; making the Sign of the Cross in restaurants and other public places; and talking about our faith in Jesus with other people when we feel the Holy Spirit prompting us to do so. Our Lord doesn’t want us to become angry or aggressive, but He does expect us to be assertive, determined, and courageous in defending the truth of the Gospel and in doing our part to bring about a more just and peaceful world. God is on our side—and this means the only way we lose is if we give up the fight. If instead we rely upon and use His guidance and grace, we are assured of sharing in Christ’s victory.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email