Victory Only Comes Through the Cross

The popular photo of Hurricane Sandy's aftermath could be an icon for faith after the pro-family losses of 2012.

It is providential that this Election Year is the Year of Faith.

An election like yesterday’s can cause a great deal of discouragement. The results were practically a worse-case scenario for the most fundamental building blocks of society: The right to life, religious liberty and the family.

But don’t forget that Jesus Christ has only one modus operandi: The cross.

His story starts with his birth into the life of a refugee one step ahead of a murderous king. It ends with him being dragged away from his fleeing apostles and crucified.

After that came a Church whose fights and sins are the subject of the letters of St. Paul. Then came torture and martyrdom for his followers — followed all too quickly by the long march of heresies that denied the very identity of Christ. Around the year 1000, the Church was torn apart by human pettiness in the Great Schism. About 500 years later, an overbearing, arrogant and worldly Church would get torn apart again and again.

Over the years, powerful Catholics have advanced or allowed terrible evils that the Church’s teaching denounces: simony, slavery, and various other atrocities, up to and including genocide and abortion. From Peter’s betrayal to Pope John XII’s, from the days when Judas sold Christ to the days when Catholics sold slaves, the Church’s story is a long, sick tale of sin.

But, as I have written before, the Church isn’t the sum of its failures and sins. The Church is the sum of its sins plus grace, which is to say it is an institution always being dragged back from the brink of failure and handed victories by God.

It also means the real history of the Church is the history of saints and charity. At each stage in that story of sin, the Church was also a multinational organization transforming the world through love. We invented hospitals, schools — and science, and principles of human justice. We created works of stunning beauty with pens, brushes, chisels and musical instruments. Our scriptures and our sacraments built families that brought cheer and comfort to a world that had often lacked them.

We may feel like the forces of secularism have finally triumphed in America.

The reality is far from that.

Just ask Pope John Paul II what it looks like for the forces of secularism to triumph. His nation was overrun by murderous Nazis — only to be replaced by Communists for decades.

Or ask Pope Benedict XVI what it was like to live under aggressive secularizers — Nazis euthanized his Down Syndrome cousin and his family had to move several times because his father opposed them. The Nazis were replaced by a new Germany that before long would deny the unborn the right to life and succeed in marginalizing the faith.

What lesson did these two great men learn from watching the constant triumph of secularism over Catholicism in their time?

“We can and must believe, with the late Pope John Paul II,” Pope Benedict XVI told Americans in 2008, “that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity.”

If that sounds naive, remember who is saying it.

It is absolutely providential that this Election Year is also the Year of Faith. The Pope and the bishops have called for us to do what every other generation of Christians has done: Turn to Christ in our hour of need, and carry his cross to victory.

Christ’s modus operandi is always the same: He loses battles, then wins wars.

The Gregorian Institute listed what needs to be done during the Fortnight for Freedom. This is basically the agenda of the Year of Faith.

And the Year of Faith just got a lot more serious.


Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications department and edits the college’s Catholic identity speech digest, The Gregorian.



  • jafv

    The results of the 2012 elections are in and, if nothing else, they are a
    rallying call for Catholics and, indeed, for all Christians to respond with one
    voice to the threat that they pose to our constitutionally-guaranteed right of
    religious liberty. In fact, the winners of this election do not recognize that
    right, nor are the prepared to guarantee it. Therefore, we must demand it – and
    take it by whatever means necessary.

    It is time to take a page
    out of the Mao-Leninist book if we are to have a real renewal of the American
    ideal, the dreams of the founding fathers and, more importantly, a renewal of
    the Christian Spirit in America. We must be patient, as the Marxists have been
    patient, but at the same time give all our energies to renewal. We cannot sit
    back and just hope that things will get better as the Europeans have done. You see what
    has happened to European Christianity with that approach.

    We must begin with our
    schools. We see the result of entrusting our schools to the government. The
    biggest mistake our bishops have made over the years has been the abandonment of
    Catholic education. Today, we see the results. More than half of American
    Catholics voted for an agenda of abortion, contraception, gay marriage – and
    against religious liberty. I daresay that those same Catholics know nothing, or
    very little, about the teaching of the Catholic Church on these subjects, or for
    that matter, on most other subjects. Catholics should be called upon to
    revitalize Catholic schools, no matter the sacrifice necessary to maintain
    them. We should demand that our bishops reverse course and reinstitute Catholic
    elementary and secondary education as their first priority, even at the cost of
    all the social welfare programs which they now support. The government is
    well-enough funded and better equipped to provide social services. As
    Catholics, we are called upon to support these services – and public education –
    through our taxes. We get nothing in return for our schools. Let us,
    therefore, concentrate our efforts and investment where they will provide the
    greatest return: in our Catholic schools.

    At the same time, we have a
    duty to reclaim and renew our Catholic colleges and universities. For the most
    part, they can no longer claim to be called Catholic. They have been
    infiltrated by the same Marxist ideology that pervades other institutions of
    higher education, both public and private. Once again, our bishops have failed
    us by allowing them to continue to call themselves Catholic, when, in fact, they
    oppose everything that is taught by the Catholic Magisterium. They call
    themselves a “parallel magisterium” but in reality they are an
    “anti-magisterium”, advocating the same anti-Christian ideology of the secular
    univerisities, apparently in an attempt to align and ingratiate themselves with
    the “intellectual elite.” If they refuse to return to the fold, the bishops
    must strip them of the right to call themselves Catholic and begin anew the task
    of building a truly Catholic higher education system. It should be the duty of
    the renewed Catholic universities to reinstitute a core curriculum which
    includes courses in Theology, Philosophy and History, all taught from a truly
    Catholic perspective. But they must do more. They must adapt to the demands of
    modern sciences especially in information technology, journalism and
    entertainment. This is where the culture is most affected and so, there must be
    an emphasis on these subjects. Perhaps, more importantly, intense courses in
    practical politics should be instituted so that Catholic college graduates will
    be equipped and encouraged to compete in the field of politics and

    If we follow this agenda,
    its fruits will be seen in the institutional Church. Children and young adults,
    having been instructed in the the true faith, and prepared to live it, will be
    more likely to give themselves to the Church in religious life. Vocations to
    the priesthood and to the religious orders will increase. Religious sisters
    might even rediscover the value of teaching in Catholic schools. Bishops should
    also call upon the laity to live a lay or”semi-religious” vocation for the
    staffing of our schools and universities.

    As Catholic laymen and
    women, we have a duty to call upon the bishops to begin such a program.
    Apparently, they still don’t see the need for real renewal. They talk the talk
    but don’t walk the walk. We know what works. We have abandoned the path
    followed by early American Church leaders.
    We once had the most flourishing
    Catholic Church in the world. But we have chosen to follow the European path
    that we know has led to decay and death of the Church there. We must not let
    that happen here. I believe that we still have a strong enough base in the
    American Church to rebuild. It will take many years, perhaps many decades, but
    it can be done.

    Finally, we should align ourselves with
    Evangelicals and other Christians who share the values of the Christian life.
    We should not shrink from such alliances but rather embrace our Christian
    brothers and sisters who are as threatened by the prevailing culture as are we
    Catholics. Together we can reclaim our rightful heritage handed down to us by
    the founding fathers. We can make the election of 2012 the beginning point of
    true renewal of Christianity in America and return to our founding principles.
    I recognize that it is a daunting task and one that we cannot accomplish alone.
    Only through the grace of God, which He has always generously conferred on this
    country, can it be done. But it can be done. Let’s make it happen.

  • mike

    Excellent article…”The Year of Faith!” Much Hope! :) <3

  • emma4

    The only way to get rid of this entitlement society is to let the whole system burn and crash. We need to fall over the fiscal cliff. The sooner the better. The takers will continue to demand and bleed us all dry until they finally see that we can’t afford it. They need to get off their fat behinds and be productive members of society.

    • Dante

      Emma4, I understand your frustration. I truly believe the first step is rebuilding our faith culture among our children. This doesn’t mean dropping them off at PSR. It means an active and collective effort by priests, deacons, parents, and the entire parish family. Not just fellowship, but real honest discussions. We need to celebrate our beliefs. Our kids need this, and they really want it. This creates the foundation for an understanding of both charity and self reliance.
      Keep the faith…God is on His throne!

      • emma4

        I am very disillusioned with the Catholic church. I know that my parish and others came out very weakly in denouncing what Obama did with religious freedom and their other morally offensive stances. no real guidance to the flock….No homilies, only a few intercession about doing the right thing when voting. The leaders stood by while “catholics” pelosi and biden flaunted their embrace of abortion for the nation to see. Catholics, led by a hypocritical church, voted almost 50% for Obama. The liberal church is enabling this culture. It has no backbone. It coddles and hides priests who sexually abused children. It is all about the feel good issue of social justice now. Where is the personal responsibility preached not so many years ago? The church is weak; therefore the followers are weak and dwindling….. so sad.
        I can only protest by reducing my contributions. I have faith and belief in God….the church leaders, not so much.

        • Julie T.

          Emma, I love the question posed by a Catholic priest of the Byzantine Rite in response to the sex abuse scandal: “Do we abandon Jesus just because Judas and Peter betrayed Him?” I understand your discouragement because I have been there before, but you must not allow it to encompass you. I think it was St. Augustine (or not) who said something to the effect, “Pray like everything depends on God and work like everything depends on you.” I would add “trust” to “pray.” The point here is we must do what we can and then *trust God*, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is still watching over his Church. The Holy Spirit is still here to guard and guide and protect. Remember, even Satan thought he had “won” until the Resurrection. Think, too, of the many places in the Gospels where Jesus indicated there will be many who will not be with Him in eternity. Not that He doesn’t want them, but because they abandon Him. I think He told us that in part so we won’t be discouraged at times like this. Pray the Rosary; spending time with the Blessed Virgin is always a good thing. May God bless you.

          • Bob Struble

            St. Ignatius of Loyola, not St. Augustine.

          • Julie T.

            Thank you, Bob.

        • momof4

          Emma, that happened at a lot of Parishes. I had lunch with a friend today who complained of the same thing. You may need to find another Parish– she did! My Parish priests did not shy away from the issues and spoke out against them. But it is funny– my own parents go to a Catholic Church who feels it isn’t ‘right’ to preach what to do or how to vote, just inform. This when gay marriage is on our state’s table….and the HHS Mandate is destroying freedom of religion. The younger priests ARE teaching toward the morality of the church in my experience. It is the older boomer priests who think anything goes….keep looking for a parish and then particiapte!

  • Dante

    Well Tom, this is all well and good, and although I appreciate the list of things I need to do as a Catholic, it’s time our church leaders make a commitment also. Stop the ambiguous Homilies. Speak out! Denounce abortion, casual sex, drug use, and bigotry. Encourage our children as they fight the temptations of peer pressure. Express unequivically that Christ is with them in their fight. Do it during the Mass. We are losing the battle of secularism. It is not enough to tell followers to live a Christ like life. Spell out what that means. Your flock has forgotten!

    • emma4

      Well said!

    • Julie T.

      I concur with Emma, Dante. In addition, does anyone else here liken the situation within our Church—the brazen dissidents and their corrupting influence—to what it must have been like in the years leading up to the rupture we call the Reformation? Maybe it is just me, but I have thought many times our bishops could be making the same mistake again. Back then, everyone knew reform was needed, and *some* pushed for it, but most did not. It took a rupture of earthquake magnitude to shake the leadership into doing something about it and we finally had the Counter-Reformation. Of course, by then it was too late. The damage was done and the Body of Christ has had to live with the wound that is a scandal to the world. This corrosive influence of heretical dissidents at all levels—theologians, bishops, priests, religious, academic, and laity—has been allowed to go on for 50 years or more. I *know* the Church likes to err on the side of charity and patience, but really, more than 50 years worth? I pray our bishops are convicted by the Holy Spirit to appreciate their most important duty is to protect the Truth and by doing so, protect the flock. Can they NOT know we will have their back? How can they possibly NOT know, as I wrote in a previous comment elsewhere, the barbarians are no longer at the gate. They are inside the keep. They need to be *expelled* for their own good and for the good of the Church. Perhaps *everyone* needs to pray for a second Pentecost.

  • MLSouth

    Still grieving the loss of the great opportunity this country just threw away. Time and God’s grace will allow for healing.

    • riotjock™

      No one believes that Romney was a great opportunity. He was the only other option.

      • Dante

        Your premise officially has no validity. I for one believed Romney was a great opportunity. “Only other options” don’t normally get 57 million votes!

      • Joe M

        Romney was a great candidate with the qualifications we really need in a leader right now. Obama has lied about terrorism, impoverished our country and used the government to reward cronies. The sad reality is that if a great candidate like Romney can’t beat a terrible, dishonest leader like Obama, our country has reached a tipping point.

        I fear for the future of my children in this country.

        • dancingontheheadofapin

          Obama lost in every state that required photo ID. It should be the law of the land.

          • NOM lies

            Yeah. Repressing voting rights is the only way Republicans can win an election, evidently.

          • dancingontheheadofapin

            Turn that around the other way. Would you want photo ID if the democrats were trying to make the elections legal so republicans couldn’t use voter fraud to win? Democrat voter fraud has been clearly documented On Video multiple times in many different places in 2008 and this presidential election. People need a photo ID for food stamps, for government medical care, drivers license, security clearance, and so much more. Why not true the vote? There is no suppression from the conservative side except when the government fails to get ballots to our military on time, AGAIN, and then the plane crashes (how convenient) and Black Panthers are intimidating people at the polls. Somalis, who couldn’t even speak English and did not have to show ID, were taken to Cincinnati by the busloads and the democrats were telling them how to vote! Now I know why Ohio goes democrat.

  • Chansen Stone

    I’m pretty certain that the results from yesterday’s election were a resounding victory for the most fundamental building blocks of society: The right to life, religious liberty and the family.

    It was a victory for those that suffer discrimination and whose lives have been cut short because of bullying. It was a victory for the religious liberty of people that have suffered oppression at your hands. It was a victory for the American families that are different than yours, but always deserved the same rights as you.

    In short, it was a victory for the life, liberty and families of gay and lesbian Americans, that have suffered for years because of your discriminatory treatment.

    • MLSouth

      It’s a sad fact, but fact none the less, that even if gay “marriage” is made legal in all the USA, it is still not right in the eyes of God. Just like with abortion: just because it is legal it does not make it right in the eyes of God. Those are not our rules, but God’s rules. You can believe them or not believe them, but it is still a truth and will always be a truth. God does not change His rules. And these are His rules because He knows us best and loves us, and knows exactly how he created us: for man to be with woman and for woman to be with man. Any other man made combination is a mockery of God’s creation.

      • riotjock™

        Yes MLSouth, but at least gay people will then be treated by our government in the same manner as all other people. Their children will be protected by the same laws as every other family.

        You can continue to believe in one man one woman marriage even if Bob and Greg can get a marriage license at City Hall for $100 like every other couple.

        • Dante

          And there it is…you see riotjock, I could care less if Bob & Greg can get a marriage license at City Hall, but that won’t be enough for you. You won’t be satisfied until Mother Government forces the ceremony to be performed at the alter of a Catholic Church. Our dogma is 2,000 years old. Yours is 10 years old. Once we start redefining marriage, it will never stop. Other “victims” will argue their rights are being trampled. Polygomy, gay incestual unions, you name it. I hope to be just as intolerent then. Let me ask you riotjock, what is your moral “line in the sand” (mother & son marriage; three brothers), and what gives you the right to say it’s morally wrong (that is, if they truly love one another)?

          • More Silliness Please

            Don’t you see that you are going to ensure the election of Hillary Clinton in four years for eight years with your silly talk? Please continue. You go, Dante! Insist on purges, a new inquisition! Clean out the hierarchy, clergy, and laity. Thank you, Dante. Really, you’re the best!

          • Dante

            Does anyone notice how quickly liberal (Catholics?) will set aside established doctrine? Let me ask you Silliness, do you have a similar stance on abortion? Would I be an evil inquisitor if I said we need to be more vocal on our position regarding life? At what price our principles?

          • Puddleglum

            Do you also notice how quickly liberals of whatever background resort to name-calling and labeling? Ooooh! The Inquisition! Oh, and sarcasm. Sounds a lot like the Obama Team’s campaign strategy. (Hey, it worked. Too bad Truth is a casualty.) No reasoned discussion of the issues, just meaningless jibes.

          • puddleglum

            Silliness, you have aptly named yourself! The point, if you would hear it, is that the state did not create marriage, God did, between one man and one woman, primarily for the welfare of the children. You (I’m assuming by your way of expressing yourself) have no “right” to marriage. Even if the state forces us all to say that you are “married,” you will never truly be. Always a pair, never a couple.

          • dancingontheheadofapin

            None of this will matter soon. Read to the end. It’s for the entire human race. Ignore it at your own peril.


          • riotjock™

            THIS IS A LIE. Churches can refuse to marry whoever they want. You don’t see any Jews demanding to be married by our bishops, in our churches. In fact, a church is free to refuse to marry interracial couples if they so choose. You are only trying to fan the flames of prejudice and fear. It’s not going to work. America woke up and realized that you’ve been lying.

          • Dante

            On many occasions, members of the gay community have made the ridiculous argument that the issue of gay rights is no different than the struggle for black civil rights. Based on that premise, it doesn’t take much of a leap in logic to make the argument that gays should have just as much a right to be married in The Catholic Church as African Americans (unless of course they’re Jewish). In the not too distant future, I predict that you will see this become a Title VII issue (look it up if you don’t know what it is) that will be brought before a liberal, secular federal judge. What do you think will happen then? Doesn’t seem possible? I don’t know how old you are jock, but it wasn’t that long ago that I would have never dreamed we’d even be having this debate.

          • leogirl87

            They are missing the elephant in the room. Black people have a different physical appearance from white people. With gays, it’s about a difference in BEHAVIOR. It is not a sin to be attracted to a person of the same gender, but it is a sin to act upon it.

          • leogirl87

            No, they cannot. You need to WAKE UP before it’s too late. Look at Canada, where gay marriage has been legal for a decade. Churches in that country *ARE* being forced to allow gay couples to marry. There are court battles about this. There are also lawsuits from Catholic adoption agencies, as well as business owners of wedding planners and cake decorators. Even Catholic schools are not allowed to teach against homosexual activity, and the secular ones promote it (kindergartens teach about gay marriage and “tolerance” days at middle schools teach homosexual foreplay). Gays will not stop until they get their way with everyone, everywhere. Everyone has to accept their lifestyle. I think you need to look at more news sources, as these cases are not covered in the secular media (heavy liberal bias), but they are real.

          • dancingontheheadofapin

            Study the Marxist, Leninist, communist regimes. It is part of the way they take over countrys; destroy religious freedom and replace traditional values and morals with homosexuality and abortion It destroys people’s souls.

          • Nancy McCarthy

            The truth is that those who push gay marriage don’t really give a crap about marriage, they just want to destroy religion. They cry that the government isn’t “fair”…but the fact is, its not fairness that they want, its not eq

          • Ford Oxaal

            So here is an “ahaaaa” moment. Now it all makes sense. The Bible, God, and His Church are the enemy of the gay “lifestyle”. Therefore the Bible must be censored (I still can’t believe the malevolent, intentional hypocrisy of the ‘education’ establishment here), God must be shown to be a creation of man, and the Roman Catholic Church must be subdued and then destroyed (the Protestant Churches have already caved). Christ did not “dialogue” with the Pharisees and Scribes, because He knew they were, for the most part, malevolent. So too, the Catholic Church is realizing the malevolence of those who directly attack her.

          • momof4

            Start reading what has happened in Canada and Vermont to people who do not believe in gay marriage….Churches will be held as discriminators in court if these laws pass….it will mean they will lose their tax exempt status and not be able to function. Get informed– this kind of information is widely available in the papers and online.

      • dancingontheheadofapin

        There will be a day, and not too long from new I’m sure, for everyone to know who is really in charge. Go to the link and read in entirety. This is for all peoples all over the world, whether Catholic, Jew, atheist, agnostic, protestant or muslim.



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