This article originally appeared on Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s blog “Standing on My Head,” and is reprinted with permission. Visit his website, browse his books, and be in touch at dwightlongenecker.com.
I remember an exorcist once telling me how difficult it was to deal with the devil because you cannot trust anything he says. The demons lie, lie, lie. They howl and whimper and say they are leaving the possessed person, but they are lying. They are still there. They hide. They blaspheme, but even that is a lie. It is a front. It is a ruse.
The difficulty is that we are not allowed to fight dirty in response. We have to play fair or we join the devil in his own game and as soon as we do, he wins.
What can we do in the face of such hate?
We can do only what the Lord did. We stand silent. As the sheep before the shearers is dumb.
Whatever we say will be twisted against us. Whatever we explain will be disputed. Our joy will be mocked. Our truth will be turned into a lie. Our virtue will be raped. Our nobility will be humiliated with torture until we scream for mercy. Our righteousness will be revealed as hypocrisy and our faith will be punctured with the mockery of the crowd, “Where is your God now? Why doesn’t he save you?”
So in the face of the powers of this world the true Christian will walk the way of the martyrs. This is what Christ the Lord means when he says, “To be my disciple you must take up your cross and follow me.”
This is always therefore the sign of an authentic Christianity. It always stands trembling on the threshold of martyrdom. Do you see a church that is comfortable in this world? Do you see a church that has got into bed with the powers of the state? Do you see a church that has grown rich on the handouts of favor and privilege from the crown? Do you see a church that has invested happily in the banks and counting houses of the world? Do you see a church that dines richly with Caesar? There is the church of the antichrist.
This is why the Catholic love of the martyrs is always and everywhere a sign of authenticity. This is why the true Church always stands with the poor, the dispossessed, the homeless, the hungry and the lowest of the low.
We stand there because they are the “few, the faithful few, the band of brothers” in the perennial fight against evil.