It seems that these are grim times to be a faithful Catholic. Some people in positions of great cultural influence seem to be animated by a disdain for Catholics and the Catholic Church. Here’s one example that just came to my attention. Masterpiece Theater is running a BBC miniseries that, apparently, is designed to make the Catholic saint and martyr Thomas More look like a bad guy and his persecutor, Thomas Cromwell, look like a good guy. It’s not getting favorable notices for historical accuracy from academic historians. And the author of the book on which the show is based is a former Catholic who makes no attempt to hide her animosity for the Church and for Catholics. The Catholic Church, she says, “is not an institution for respectable people.” This is a bigoted remark that writes off a billion of her fellow human beings as not worthy of respect.
In addition, there is the political situation in America. Evidently, if you accept the Catholic (and biblical, and historic) view that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, the people who disagree with you are free to label you a “hater”–which is probably the worst thing you can be labelled in contemporary America. And it will do no good to try to explain to them that you are not animated by hatred, because they will just make the assertion over and over again, and dismiss as mere dodges your efforts to explain yourself. To be a faithful Catholic in this environment, you have to endure being classed as among the worst of human beings.
On the other hand, I should not complain too much. It is not as easy to be a Catholic in America today as it was, say, 20 or 50 years ago. But it is not even close to being as hard as it is for Christians elsewhere in the world who are killed for their faith. They are martyrs and we should ask their intercession.
And we have this consolation, too. If it is a hard time to be a faithful Catholic in America, it is also a glorious time to be a faithful Catholic in America. It is glorious because it is hard. By the signs of the times, it will take considerable strength of mind and character to be a faithful Catholic. It will take strength of mind because you won’t be able to sit back and let the dominant culture do your thinking for you. You will have to study the faith, understand it, and know the arguments in defense of it. You will have to do this not to convert others (although it would be nice if you could), but in order to remain faithful yourself and to transmit the faith to your children, if you have a family. And it will take considerable strength of character because if you have the strength of mind to think differently from the dominant culture, the defenders of the dominant culture certainly will not hesitate to resort to ridicule and denunciation to try to keep you in line.
And if you succeed in remaining a faithful Catholic, or even just try your honest best for a whole lifetime, you can hope for Jesus to say to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That’s the only glory we really want, and it will be all the more glorious for having been won in hard circumstances.