The deep aspect of the Church—called forth by Simeon during the presentation of the infant Christ in the Temple (Luke 2:34)—that so often becomes lost in the modern world, with its comfort, ease, tendency to go along to get along, and lack of easily perceived martyrs—though are not the millions of aborted babies such—yet as Pope John Paul II reminds us, the Church is surely a sign of contradiction in the world.
Over the next seven days (first of ten posted on May 9th) I will continue to post excerpts from the final chapter of the first book published in English by John Paul—in 1979—Sign of Contradiction, which is a collection of talks then Cardinal Karol Wojtyla preached during the annual Lenten Retreat in March 1976 to his predecessor, Pope Paul VI.
A related series of articles by Dr. John C. Rao is available online at the Roman Forum, which examines in depth the ongoing war against the Church, as noted by Rao: “For the Church is a force which has proven to be a powerful, effective, rage-provoking “sign of contradiction” to all the many opponents of Christ.” (2nd para., 1st p.)
Excerpt from Sign of Contradiction.
“We are living in an age in which the whole world proclaims freedom of conscience and religious freedom, and also in an age in which the battle against religion—defined as the “opium of the people”—is being fought in such a way as to avoid, as far as possible, making any new martyrs. And so the programme for today is one of face-saving persecution: persecution is declared non-existent and full religious freedom is declared assured. What is more, this programme has succeeded in giving many people the impression that it is on the side of Lazarus against the rich man, that it is therefore on the same side as Christ, whereas in fact it is above all against Christ. Can we really say: “above all”? We would so much like to be able to affirm the opposite. But unfortunately the facts demonstrate clearly that the battle against religion is being fought, and that this battle still constitutes an untouchable point of dogma in the programme. It also seems as if, for all the attainment of this “heaven upon earth”, it is most of all necessary to deprive man of the strength he draws on in Christ (cf. Romans 1:16; I Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Philippians 4:16): this “strength” has indeed been condemned as weakness, unworthy of man. Unworthy…troublesome, rather. The man who is strong with the strength given him by the faith does not easily allow himself to be thrust into the anonymity of the collective (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9). (pp. 200-201)