Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Where Persecution Reigns

An an article taken from Bishop Fulton Sheen's "Lenten & Easter Inspirations." 1967

We are living in a period of history like unto that of the Roman Empire when Julian the Apostate sat upon the throne of the Caesars. The persecution of Christ which he initiated was not like the earlier persecutions, which were prompted by the release of barbaric instinct, but rather was due to the perversion and the loss of faith in Christ. Like his successors in the modern world, Julian persecuted because he had lost his faith- and since his conscience would let him alone, he would not let the Church alone.

He made a tour of the Roman Empire to investigate the success of his persecutions. He came to the ancient city of Antioch where, disguising himself, he entered into the inns, taverns and the public markets better to learn the fruits of his hate. On one occasion, watching thousands of people crowd into a temple dedicated to Mithra, he was recognized by an old Christian friend whose name was Agathon. Pointing to the crowd and to the apparent success of the pagan cult, he sneered this question to his friend: “Agathon, what ever happened to that carpenter of Galilee- does he have any jobs these days?” Agathon answered: “He is building a coffin now for the Roman Empire, and for you.”

Six months later Julian thrust a dagger into his own heart. Throwing it toward the heavens against which he had rebelled, as his own unredemptive blood fell back upon him, he uttered his last and most famous line: “O Galilean, Thou hast conquered.” He always does!