Blessed Are You Book Club: Chapter 8, Persecution

 

Welcome to WINE’s Summer Book Club! We are reading and discussing Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration From Our Sisters in Faith by Melanie Rigney. We’re so happy you are joining us! We pray this book club will bless you and give you tangible ways to live the Beatitudes in your daily lives. We look forward to hearing from you in the comments section, throughout our time together.

wineBookClub_SliderB 16

By Rhonda Ortiz

When Sarah Damm approached me in May about contributing to WINE’s summer book club, she offered me a choice between the peacemaking chapter (which we just read) and the one on persecution. My response is telling:

That’s a hard decision. I just read something very beautiful on peacemaking, something that resonated with me—and that kind of topic is my usual go-to. However, persecution is something I’m deathly (no exaggeration) afraid of; I hate conflict. Either one works, but if you’re looking for a punchier, poignant post, I’ll go with persecution.

By “punchier” I meant, “An honest confession of how even the bickering of my family and friends on Facebook over hot-button topics sends me running to a corner to suck my thumb.” That conflict makes me sick to my stomach. That I really, really, really like it when people like me.

Punchy or not, I hoped she would say, Oh, that’s okay! You can do the peacemaking chapter! Because who doesn’t love peacemaking?

Instead Sarah—cruel, heartless woman!—replied with:

Perhaps that is the Holy Spirit nudging you 🙂 Whenever I get a bit nervous about something that I know is the “right” thing for me to do, I know it is the Lord. Otherwise, I’d be running in the opposite direction!

Persecution it is. Dang it.

Our Lord tells us that we are blessed when we are persecuted for His sake, because persecution and faith are interconnected. The more we come to believe and live in Christ and His salvation, the more we are willing to suffer insults and even martyrdom.

Melanie Rigney points out that “persecution knows our weak points” (p. 113), that “the form that makes us the most vulnerable is the one that persecution will choose.”

It wouldn’t be suffering if it didn’t hurt, right? The enemy of our souls wants to shake our faith by nailing us in our weak spots. He wants us to cave under pressure.

That I hate conflict, that arguments make me feel insecure, that I’d rather everyone (or, at least those people I really, really want to impress) like me instead of standing up for some unpopular truth of our faith … these are my weak spots. You better believe that the devil will attack me on these fronts. And he will use the misguided words and actions of other people—even people I love—people God loves—to do this.

Our challenge, then, is twofold:

First, we’re called by Jesus Christ himself to “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Righteous indignation is so much easier, but it can also poison the soul, feeding into the devil’s—the true enemy’s—plans.

Second, we must not lose sight of who we are: Christians. This sentence on page 128 struck a chord: “We diminish ourselves when we fail to stand for what is right.” Diminish? As if our very selves fade away, like Marty McFly in Back to the Future. The more we compromise on the truth, the less and less we are the women we’re meant to be.

Ouch.

The only way I know for overcoming my thumb-sucking, kowtowing, people-pleasing tendencies and accept persecution for the sake of the Kingdom is to abide in Christ’s love, every day, every moment. To accept his infinite love, to know that I’m infinitely valued and adored in spite of my weakness. To remember that being a daughter of the King of kings makes me (forgive my cheesy!) a princess.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

  1. How do you see fear and persecution connected in today’s world? What are the effects of this? How might we counteract the fear?
  2. Online and elsewhere, we often see both the “holier than the Pope” and the “if only the Church would get with it” wars among ourselves as a Catholic family. What advice might St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop and Bl. Lucy of Narni give us when we feel persecuted by our brothers and sisters in Christ?
  3. Being a follower of Jesus Christ means that, at some point, we will be persecuted for our beliefs. Are you ready? Why or why not? What practical things can we do to strengthen our faith?

YOUR TURN: Below in the comments box, please share your thoughts, inspirations, and reflections on Chapter 8, and/or your responses to any of these questions.

+++

Next week, we’ll conclude our book club with Chapter 9: Joy. For the complete reading schedule and information about our online book club, visit the Read Between the WINEs Summer Book Club page.

About the Author:

View More: http://downthebeanstalk.pass.us/renken-2016Rhonda Ortiz is a convert, wife and mother, and Lay Dominican in formation who writes on topics of faith, culture, and family across the web. She also writes Scripture for the Scrupulous, a weekly newsletter providing guided meditations for battling scruples, perfectionism, and anxiety in the spiritual life. Follow her work at www.rhondaortiz.com.

Be Sociable, Share!
Blog Writers

Written by

Find out more about this author and meet all of our amazing writers by visiting the Wine Writers page.

Enter the Conversation...

6 Responses to “Blessed Are You Book Club: Chapter 8, Persecution”
  1. Carla Martin says:

    As scared as I am, I am ready to stand up for Our Lord! I too suffer from that “People pleasing” syndrome. And I remember having worked at an institution that was not of my faith, after prayer time at a meeting I made the sign of the cross. To say life became extremely difficult afterwards is an understatement. It was scary and lonely. But I made it! And I will again!!! Jesus I trust in You!!!🙏🏽

  2. 1. How do you see fear and persecution connected in today’s world? What are the effects of this? How might we counteract the fear?

    The TV news is full of fear and persecution. I think it makes us all jumpy and wary, reluctant to welcome strangers. But, if we take the time to meet and try to understand those who make us uncomfortable, we often find a friend.
    My daughter, who lives in Seattle, worked with a young man at the NW Ballet. They were both pianist. Through Ray, she met his friend, who comes from Iran. He was an engineer there working for an American company. One day he was about 15 min. late for work. When he reached his office, he found everyone had been shot and killed. His parents were able to quick get him to Jordon and soon after to the U.S. He is now finishing a computer programming degree.

    I have been proud of my daughter for welcoming this young man into her circle of friends. A few years ago, he was able to bring his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew over to the U.S. They are still working on getting green cards and my daughter and her friends have rallied around them to help. The young man is Christian, but his brother’s family is Muslim. Beside my daughter and her friends, a church has adopted these folks. That I think is a step in the right direction: Love is the answer.

    2. Online and elsewhere, we often see both the “holier than the Pope” and the “if only the Church would get with it” wars among ourselves as a Catholic family. What advice might St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop and Bl. Lucy of Narni give us when we feel persecuted by our brothers and sisters in Christ?

    I believe they would tell us to treat all with dignity, to forgive those who persecute us, and try to persuade them by our example to be better.

    3. Being a follower of Jesus Christ means that, at some point, we will be persecuted for our beliefs. Are you ready? Why or why not? What practical things can we do to strengthen our faith?

    Persecution comes in many forms and ways. I hope I would be ready, but not knowing what form this might take it’s hard to honest say. I feel that I learned a valuable lesson over the last 40 years. It began in high school when all of a sudden all my classmates began calling me “Alice Rat”. I knew that was no compliment, but I had no clue what I had done to deserve this. My pride would not let me ask, so I just went about my days as always, but the tag hurt. I did know who was behind it, but did not really understand the reason.

    When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, a close high school friend, who had called to check on me finally, told me what my “crime” was. I was editor of the annual and I had put in a photo of the head cheerleader that she consider uncomplimentary. When she found she asked me to change it. I refused. I could not see any problem with the photo and besides it had already been turned into the published, but I did not tell her that. She went crying to the football coaches who gave me the tag.

    I had seen very little of this woman over the past 40 years. When we moved back to MS, I found that we both went to the same (small) church. We have become firm friends. I have never discussed the incident with her and hopefully she’s forgotten it and I’ve gotten past it. Better communication could have prevented the whole thing. I will try to remember that in the future.

  3. Connie Gray says:

    The Beatitude that begins this chapter is a good one to keep in mind as we are “persecuted” for our faith.

    “Blessed are you who are persecuted for righteousness’sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile and persecute you and utter all kids of evil against you falsely on my account.” Matthew 5:10-11

    Rhonda, thank you for your “confession” of how you feel when there is conflict, differing opinions, or “persecution. You are definitely not alone in these thoughts. I know it is hard for me too. I would like to address your discussion topic #2. I think St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop would advise us to forgive our persecutors and pray to not be bitter towards them. Much easier to say, than do for some of us… just need to keep praying about it I guess.

  4. Deidra says:

    I think we as Catholics are persecuted for our faith because people do not understand what we do and why we do it.

    • Connie Gray says:

      Yes I believe you are right about that. Many of us, including myself are not equipped to explain our faith and evangelize. I am so thankful that there seems to be a growing trend to offer more learning resources and opportunities… I love the “Journey Home” audio podcasts, Relevant Radio and Catholic Answers website. Our parish also is trying the “Formed’ Program. So far what I have previewed is excellent. Awesome digital programs, movies, audios and books! I also love book clubs and the CRHP small groups that meet, so we can become more personally connected to others in our parish.

  5. Courtney says:

    I think sowing fear has become a political stance, sometimes for people on both sides of the aisle. It helps politicians get elected by appealing to base instincts.

    To sow fear there has to be an ‘other’, and escalating this fear leads to hatred and then persecution.

    Working for the Kingdom is not like that at all. It’s finding common ground, if only in our finite humanity on this earth. It’s having a sense of context, and turning off the TV in occasion.