The First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
The practice of vice is nothing new. From the very first chapters of the Bible we are told of human wickedness, a wickedness so great that God is shown as wiping out whole cities, but for a selected few, and then virtually the entire earth, but for Noah and his family. Time and again, humans – especially in urban agglomerates – lose their bearings before God, and fall into evil ways. The New Testament as well begins with just such a scenario, as St. Paul in writing to the Romans describes the behaviors into which they fell when they lost sight of God, and embraced what might have been called “secular humanism.” Godless.
It is hard to remember we are in God’s world, when we live in a world dominated by technological wizardry which claims ultimacy. Day and night, the artificial lights of our world mockingly shout out: “where is your God?” And, for awhile, there appears to be silence and darkness. For those in Jesus’ craft, seeing the great waves of immorality threatening the boat from every side, it sometimes seems all is lost, that God will not rouse Himself from apparent sleep.
The practice of vice makes people vicious. The ancient Romans cruelly – sadistically – tortured and killed the lambs of the Lamb, the followers of the gentle Jesus who had abjured the deeds of darkness to live in the light. We are forwarned many times in Scripture: we should not be terrified, even though the wickedness around us is terrifying. He who overcomes the storm is with us, and He is our only safety, our only refuge, in this often dark and vicious world. He alone is the true Light, a silent, gentle Light that overcomes the world.