Green Martyrdom

Several months ago, I heard a provocative description of martyrdom from Fr. Robert Cook, President of the new Wyoming Catholic College. His idea was that martyrdom in the modern age is not necessarily one of bloody (red) martyrs who die violently for the Faith. Neither is it the daily, silent and sacrificial (white) martyrdom of humble believers. He says that modern martyrs will manifest their heroic courage economically; that is, we will be called to pay dearly for our principles, not necessarily at the cost of lives, but at the cost of dollars. This is "green" martyrdom, and it has nothing to do with the environmental movement.

The pagan enemies of Christianity today are not honest enough to put a gun to our heads and demand that we renounce Christ, even though they often express their unmitigated contempt for us in various ways. One has only to witness the blasphemy of the recent Fulsom Street homosexual festival in San Francisco to know that vitriolic hatred for Christianity is alive and well in our society. Our enemies know, however, that even though many Catholics would undoubtedly give up their lives for Christ, people find it much harder to give up their jobs for Christ. When faced with a choice between fidelity to a clear teaching of the Faith or compromising on that principle for the sake of "keeping peace at home" or saving one's reputation, etc., the pagans know that it takes a heroic person to choose the abstract principle. Yet, a sacrificial commitment to principle is where the call to martyrdom lies in the modern age, and increasingly so, for Catholics and all men and women of good conscience. Standing on principle costs us dearly.

Nowadays, Catholics are facing all types of persecution of our values: Catholic healthcare professionals are being intimidated into cooperation with intrinsically evil practices in medical facilities; Catholic pharmacists are being run out of their profession for refusing to dispense abortifacient contraception; Catholic businessmen are being asked to look the other way when certain immoral practices are standardized in their workplaces, and they feel that they can't object without serious repercussions. Catholic parents not towing the line on sex education programs in the schools fear that their kids will be the ones who are ostracized and ridiculed, and Catholic married couples are roundly mocked for having more than the culturally-acceptable number of children in their families. These situations are just the tip of the iceberg and are only going to get worse.

Even the bishops are not safe from values coercion. The Supreme Court recently refused to hear a case of the Archdiocese of New York seeking to avoid paying for contraception for its employees. They have now been ordered by a court to pay for other people's immorality, and to disobey that order is going to cost them. I also noted when the Connecticut bishops agreed to allow Plan B in the Catholic hospitals that from the top of the hierarchical ladder on down we must be willing to fight our pagan persecutors if our values are to mean anything. That will sometimes mean bleeding green in lawsuits, financial losses, firings and confiscations for the sake of the Kingdom. So be it. Doesn't the Lord say that it is "better to lose part of your body than to have it all cast into Gehenna"? Well, Gehenna is here, and we have to choose.

In a time of economic prosperity, the pagans in charge of our society's institutions only tolerate us, but ultimately, they will not allow us to stand in the way of their agenda to remake the culture in their image and likeness. The heroism of our modern-day martyrdom will be found in our willingness to sacrifice, even financially, to preserve the integrity of our values. We will be tested, but the rewards promised to the faithful will be ours: "Everyone who has given up home, brothers or sisters, father or mother, wife or children or property for my sake will receive many times as much and inherit everlasting life."

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Guest

    Amen.  Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

  • Guest

    There is another choice we've already made, that compromises our commitment to God: to forfeit our political voice so as to retain our tax-free status as a religious institution. When I read Mt 22:16-21, one of the lessons that I get is that we are to ignore the financial incentives put in place to keep us from faithfully practicing our faith. I’ve believed for years that the Church would be better off speaking out on political issues and paying taxes on her income than being a tax-free church that dares not speak out on evil policies being proposed in public.

  • Guest

    The Church does speak out on some evil political policies, such as abortion.  It just can't endorse specific parties or candidates.

  • Guest

    Dear Claire,

    Where does the Church speak out on abortion? I have stood vigil at an abortion facility in the shadow of the diocese's cathedral's steeple. I pray daily that that cross on top of that steeple will convict those who worship in that nave will not tolerate the killing that goes on in that mill. I also wonder how this killing goes on in the middle of a beautiful neighborhood, filled with Victorian homes and professional offices? How do these people come to work everyday next door to a halocaust and are able to earn their livings in the presence of such an evil? How does the Bishop look the other way as he drives by this slaughter house? We have seen him do it personally. Jesus, son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.


    "Do not try to please everybody. Try to please God , the angels, and the saints. These are your public. If you are afraid of other people's opinion, you should not have become Christian." St John Vianney

  • Guest


        Well, you're certainly right that there are many Catholics, clergy included, who are negligent in their obligation to speak out against abortion.  But for those who do, they do not lose their tax-exempt status as long as they refrain from endorsing a specific party or candidate. 

  • Guest

    Each church in our diocese pays taxes due to the government.  It’s better to pay taxes and eliminate the threat of losing the tax-exempt status.

    Our parish is pro-life through sermons and actions.  Yet there are cradle Catholics who object to sermons that address the intrinsic evil of abortion.  Most often that person uses the argument “We must not mix religion and politics…blah, blah, blah.”

    In regard to Fr. Euteneuer’s good article the Catechism states:

    CCC 1777 "Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil.  It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil.  It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments.  When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.”

    Catholics need a well-formed conscience and the virtue of fortitude to follow Fr. Robert Cook’s advice that modern martyrs will manifest their heroic courage economically; that is, we will be called to pay dearly for our principles, not necessarily at the cost of lives, but at the cost of dollars. This is "green" martyrdom,…Contemporary believers often fail to listen to the truth.  They don’t want to worship a God who is going to tell them what to do.

  • Guest

    As you can imagine, I'm a guy who likes to speak his mind and has strong convictions. This has caused more than a few co-workers, much more powerful than I to come after me. Yet, even though there were many times I felt mentally and morally defeated, the result has always been the same: the Lord prepared a banquet table for me, in the presence of my enemies. I soon looked for them and they were nowhere to be found.

    Know that the Lord can hold a door open no man can shut. Who are you to fear a man, or sons of men, who are but blades of grass to the Lord.

  • Guest

    I can't understand Catholics who complain about pro-life homilies.  Abortion is not just a political issue;  it's the ultimate life issue.  Jesus defended the marginalized in society, and who is more marginalized than a helpless, innocent baby?

  • Guest


    Excellent article! I featured it on my blog



  • Guest

    A few years ago, I showed up at work wearing my Knights of Columbus jacket. My boss stopped me in the hall; and remarked to me how brave he thought I was. Not giving it a second thought, I asked him why he thought so. "Because of what that emblem stands for. That tells everyone who sees you that you are pro-life, pro-family, pro-Church – and believe me … THEY know that". He's not Catholic; but he's a social "conservative" and agrees with the moral principles on which our Church stands. Thinking about it, I guess I had to agree with him – (not that I'm brave) but that the Culture of Death DOES indeed know what the K of C emblem stands for. I would urge all of you to get involved with your Catholic organizations, whether that be the K of C, Columbiettes, Holy Name, St, Vincent De Paul Society, St. Michael Society, Sodality ….. whatever. And don't be afraid to wear your affiliation on your sleeve. It might not exactly be evangalization per se, but is a way of giving "quiet testimony" to what you believe and what you are.

  • Guest

    Green Martyrdom is not martyrdom it's persecution. Christians have always been persecuted because the prince of this world is not the Prince of peace. So we don't get the best positions and we suffer injustice, on the other hand the Lord gives us other blessings instead. If we don't acknowledge Christ the King here and now, in the Kingdom it's going to be too late. Blessed are they who suffer and thirst for righteousness and are reviled for His namesake… 

  • Guest

    In the context I will describe here, I would go so far as to say that abortion is not a political issue at all. Rather, it has been usurped as a political issue by those who wish to kill. If we examine closely Jesus's admonition to give to God that which is God's and to Caesar that which is Caesar's, then it becomes clear that life must only be given to God. Caesar has no legitimate voice. Thus, the very association of the abortion issue with politics is a sacrilege: in effect we deny Christ's clear teaching that life for its own sake is only to be given to God and never to Caesar.

    Significantly, this does not mean that pro-lifers should refrain from fighting for life in the political arena As in different arenas of old (some of them literal, as is the case of the red martyrs), taking Christ's teaching to all the nations is not an option. It is an obligation. And when the nations usurp the legitimate authority of Christ, then Christ's people have no real option but to fight peacefully in order to return that authority to its proper provenance. Thus, pro-lifers must fight in the political arena in order to return life to God.

    This understanding directly contradicts the assertions of the "against abortion but…" crowd. Whether they realize it or not, they assert by saying this that life falls under the authority of Caesar and that Caesar may do as he wishes with it. But this statement is false since life is of God and must be rendered only to God. And so any who claim that a pro-life homily is about politics demonstrate a lack of understanding of this basic principal. Many, I should add, might readily change their views if we were better at expressing these truths in Love. Many, however, will ignore these truths to their own eternal detriment and, quite possibly, to our temporal determient.

  • Guest

    When I read this article, it caused me quite a bit of anxiety. Father E. is right. Our society has gotten so evil with the tangle of money in evil causes that there is no getting out of it. It seemed to me that there is no absolute way we can totally withdraw from the economic snags of our society and still engage the culture unless we want to run to the 'hills' to be recluses. That just isn't feasible for most people.

    But then the Spirit calmed me and made me see how we can make reparation…those of us who are moved to…to give sacrificially, to embrace a more simple lifestyle.

    I think choosing our products carefully is important, but this is were tithing and alms giving comes in. If our practice has been to give 10 dollars to a ministry (like catholic exchange), then double it to 20, triple it even. We can give to a convent or a monastery or to any number of pro-life, pro-'culture of life' apostalates, as the Spirit leads us.

    That way we know our money is going to Gods works…and we can be doing some reparation for the inadvertent evil our money may be doing in other area's of our society.