The late columnist Joseph Sobran once pondered the special hatred of the world for Christ. He wrote,
Great as Shakespeare is, I never lose sleep over anything he said … By the same token nobody ever feels guilty about anything Plato or Aristotle said … We aren’t tempted to resist them as we are tempted to resist Christ (Joseph Sobran, Subtracting Christianity, pp. 1-2).
I have often contemplated this hostility toward and resistance to Christ and His Body, the Church; it is unparalleled. Few of the Protestant denominations experience this hatred. The Buddhists don’t seem to be subject to it. Even the Muslims are exempt despite the distinctly non-Western views that predominantly Muslim countries have on many social issues important to the American Left.
There is an almost visceral hatred for Jesus Christ and His Church that is so over the top, so irrational, that one has to marvel at it. The world doth protest too much. Why?
Is it fear? Perhaps, but the Church is not powerful enough to “force our views” on everyone, as some who hate us say that we do.
There is no rational explanation for the world’s intense fear of and hatred for Christ and Catholicism except to echo the words of Christ Himself:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without cause’ (Jn 15:18-25).
Yes, they hated Him without cause—at least any rational cause. There must be a cause, but it is so irrational that I surmise it must be that Satan himself is interacting with our flesh. Satan hates Christ in a way that he doesn’t hate Muhammad or Luther. Christ is a true threat, so Satan rages; the world and flesh draw from this rage and fear.
Think I’m exaggerating? It seems to be fine for excerpts from the Quran to be studied in public schools, but just try to put anything from one of the gospels into the curriculum and the outrage (closely followed by lawsuits) is nearly instantaneous. The annual “Christmas war” now targets not only nativity scenes and Santa Claus (a secular remake of St. Nicholas, by the way) but even the colors red and green!
Sobran said it well: Christ makes people lose sleep in ways that others do not. His words and teachings touch a core that others never do. That the world bristles is a compliment. Jesus Christ must be taken seriously. You may be mad, or sad, or glad, but no one goes away from Jesus Christ unchanged or merely “informed.” His words have an authority that demands a response. The world seems to know this and thus bristles. Some love Him and some hate Him, but few are neutral.
Why is this so? Could it be that Christ really is who He says He is: Lord and God? Could it be that it is His voice echoing in every conscience? This strange, irrational, excessive fear; this anger toward and even hatred of Christ attests to the truth of His claim to be the one whom we will either love or hate. One cannot serve two masters (cf Mat 6:24).
Shakespeare’s words don’t make anyone lose sleep; neither do Plato’s or Aristotle’s. Why is that?
To every secularist and atheist, I direct these questions: Why do you protest Christ and His Church so much? Why do you exaggerate our power? If we really are irrelevant, if our “day is over” and we are laughably outdated, then why the fear, anger, and protest? Do our “myths” scare you? If they are mere myths, then why fear them? Why don’t you direct the same anger toward Buddha or Muhammad? Is it that still, small voice in your conscience?
What is it? Why your sleepless wrath?
Sobran observed the odd spectacle that there is greater intensity for Christ from His opponents than from His friends:
Sometimes I think the anti-Christian forces take Christ more seriously than most nominal Christians do … [Indeed] Such a strong and unique personality [as Christ had] could only meet strong and unique resistance. That is why Christians shouldn’t resent the resistance of those who refuse to celebrate his birth [and protest us doing so]. In their way, these people are his witnesses too (Joseph Sobran, Subtracting Christianity, pp. 7-8).
So, while it is irksome, take the special hatred of the world toward Christ and His Church as a compliment. Somehow, we are viewed as a unique threat. Despite all the scandals, despite the timidity of our clergy and laity, we apparently still pose a threat. It must be Christ shining through in spite of us. Shine, Jesus, shine!
Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: The Unique Hostility Directed Toward the Lord and the Church
12 Replies to “The Unique Hostility Directed Toward the Lord and the Church”
Thank you for this article!
I was moved reading it.
Of course, Jesus is God!
As you have said, people of His times were not very happy about Him coming into this world. And I remember Father Ménard telling the faithful that a lot of people are not particularly happy at the prospect of His Second Coming.
It is kind of depressing to see that life seems good for certain people as long as Jesus doesn’t return.
But there are many prophetic signs pointing to His Return very soon.
We have to pray fervently the Holy Rosary waiting for the Return of Jesus, which Return, I hope, is very soon.
Beautiful article! This should also be directed towards the anti-catholic Christians who hate Christ’s Church, the Catholic Church.
Any ideas why the hatred has reached such intensity now? In th fifties when I was growing up I never felt this. Catholics were respected as in Hollywood with movies like Bells of St. Mary ‘s, the Nun’s Story etc.Bishop Sheen was a popular weekly tv show watched by non Catholics as well. I didn’t feel the hatred even in the 1960s, 70s, or early 80s. Most of secular media was fairly respectful in those years. Now, there is a tsunami of criticism of all things Catholic. What part have we Catholics played in this fall from grace? Are we living as faithfully as our grandparents?
I believe that the enemies time is short and we can see how he has been pulling so many into his service. The hatred will continue and the persecution will increase.
We are living in a time where the majority of Catholics do not know the faith, nor practice it and the majority of Christians do not follow Christ. So, those who continually refuse to support abortion, sodomy, euthanasia, contraception, co-habitating and all the other accept sins of society will be the enemy of society.
Anne, may I attempt to offer a thought on this important question? The Church’s stance toward the world since the Second Vatican Council has been one of “aggiornamento”, or updating.
The Church before the Council had a mentality of being a fortress and its lay members being the Church Militant, always fighting and striving to attain ascendancy over the world, the flesh and the devil, and to walk the narrow, difficult path Our Lord lays out before us that leads to eternal life.
With the updating and the supposed “opening of the windows to let in the fresh air” to the world championed by John XXIII (who spoke at the opening of the Council against those “prophets of doom [who are] always forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand.”) and his successors, the Church’s stance did fundamentally change, so much so that I’ve read in places that a slogan of the early years after the Council was “the world sets the agenda for the Church”.
When She seemed to be a fortress, the world may not have cared for Her, but at least those in the world respected Her because She was a profoundly distinct thing from it. Whether it was their intent or not, those who enacted aggiornamento deprived the Church of Her distinctiveness (not at a fundamental, spiritual level because that cannot change, but in a practical way that those in the world can see, including in its liturgy, in the manner of life of its clergy and in what they teach), and in that loss, the world lost respect for Her.
I would add that the Church as She is now, asks very little of its people and so they are now largely indistinct from those in the world. This is not only in really big moral issues but even in *relatively* small things like dispensing with fish Fridays outside of lent. Though the world may hate the Church just as it did Our Lord, it does have grudging respect for Her when She through Her members points to a higher form of life in this world and eternal life in the next through practices that speak to its moral, spiritual and even intellectual integrity. The world hungers for this and the Church up until recently has offered it but then said, like Jesus, you have to give up everything and follow me, for it.
Hope this helps.
The Catholic Church has been attacked for two thousand years and it is getting worse. Our Church is the one, true Church established by Jesus Christ and the only Church who has all seven sacraments (gifts of love from God) . No other church has the Bread of Life–the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. This is why we are being attacked. Why would the evil one destroy something that is not true? Ol’ red legs would never waste his time on something that was not the True Church.
Time is urgent; time is short; time is now. Stand up for the one, true,
holy and apostolic Church.
It’s the authoritative voice of Christ and the authority He placed in His church for all ages that repels people who don’t want to believe there’s an objective moral authority outside themselves. To embrace Jesus’ authority and that of His Church would mean they must also embrace personal change…
The Enemy surely knows who Christ is and His Presence in the Eucharist.
The crazy Satanist groups don’t seek to publicly celebrate a Black Bible Study, or a Black Call-to-Prayer, or a Black Donut-Fellowship.
No, they publicize their Black Mass (may God have mercy on them)…they know where Christ is, and mock it with everything they have.
I think you are deeply underappreciating just how much that feelings towards the church, both inside and out, have been damaged by the abuse scandals.
It’s one thing to be guilty of these acts and do all that can be done to address them; it’s another to react insufficiently, claim to teach with the authority of God and yet allow these things to continue to happen repeatedly.
If you live in America and you say you are Catholic and have not been criticized, mocked, or written off by family members, friends, or co-workers for your beliefs or actions, then there is a good chance that you are not living your Catholic faith as you should. We should be different from the secular culture. Priests and religious have their clericals and habits and hopefully their words, dispositions, and actions match that of their clothing. Lay people must speak their mind about Jesus, his Church, Heaven, Hell, and sin.
I think a prayer against being drawn into the secular world is in order. Something like ” Our Father in Heaven, set a guard over my eyes, ears and tongue and help me to recognize when I stray from you and become lost in this secular world and its errors and enticements.”
I was always guilty of this myself, being a mixed Lutheran and atheist, before I converted to the catholic Church. But despite that I have now lived half of my adult life as catholic, I still see myself criticizing the Church rather than my Lutheran or atheistic so called friends. Who despise poor people. Satan it is.
I don’t agree with your premise that there is a unique hostility directed toward the Lord and the Catholic Church. Certainly, there is some hostility among a minority of non-Catholics toward Catholicism. I have been a Catholic Deacon for 16 years, and I wear my Deacon Cross and my Roman collar in public. In all those years, I have never been insulted nor have I felt hostility about proclaiming my faith. Quite the opposite, I engage with people who inquire about my faith and beliefs.
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