Today , on the second day of Christmas, the Church places before us the feast of St Stephen, the protomartyr, to remind us that the life of a Christian is not just about earthly joy.
God and Caesar in Australia
In Australia today we are fortunate that no one has (yet) suffered the martyrdom of blood for their faith. In this we stand in stark contrast to many other countries around the world, including some of the near neighbours our Governments are seeking to cosy up to.
Nonetheless, we do live in a country that has more than a few immoral laws in place, such as those permitting abortion, which Catholics are bound to disobey, and where aggressive secularism and extremist Islam have long since made Christmas more about self-indulgent consumerism and cricket than anything to do with Christianity.
It is fitting then, that today we might particularly remember those in our midst undergoing the white martyrdoms of persecution, of opposition that come from opposing those committed to immoral agendas such as homosexual marriage, abortion, euthanasia or integrity in the political process.
There are many in this country who have campaigned hard over the last year on these issues and more, and many have incurred a high cost for their beliefs.
Within the Church...
Yet persecution is I think, always much harder to bear when it comes from those who we see as our won, from those who should be our friends, our brothers in faith.
I'm thinking here firstly of those who have suffered from being whistleblowers in the abuse crisis.
But we should also remember all those who have suffered simply for attempting to uphold orthodoxy and orthopraxis.
There are many priests in this country who have been persecuted for their desire to say the Traditional Latin Mass. Many who have been sidelined or worse for attempting to uphold faith and morality in the face of bishops and others who have pursued error and immorality.
There are seminarians, religious and laypeople who continue to suffer at the hands of authorities who are actually duty bound to support them.
Are things on the improve? I hate to be a pessimist, but I'm not seeing much evidence of it at the moment! Rather people keep sending me stories of some of our newer bishops being pressured to toe the party line by the 'liberal' thugs of certain dioceses; of long standing injustices that no one will take action to fix.
So let's give thanks for the willingness of our brothers and sisters in faith to suffer for what is right. Let's give thanks for the merits they are earning that benefit the rest of us. Let's pray that they may yet see justice in this world; but if not, be rewarded in the next. And let's pray for strength for ourselves to emulate them if we are called to do so.