As I read the second lesson in the Office of Readings for St. Sixtus II, I could not help but think that Cyprian was writing to us. If our country stays on the same path, we might just face this in the not to distant future. In one talk, Cardinal George said: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Maybe we are closer than he though!
My comments in RED.
I did not write to your community at once, dearest brother, because all the clergy, exposed as they are to the imminent danger of being put to the test and prepared in a spirit of dedication for the divine glory of heaven, were quite unable to leave here. But you must know that the messengers whom I dispatched to Rome (Washington) have now returned. I sent them to find out the truth and report back whatever may have been decreed in our regard, for many conflicting and unreliable rumors are current.
The true state of affairs is this. Valerian (Potus) has issued an edict to the Senate to the effect that bishops, presbyters and deacons (who do not conform to the HHS mandate, preach against abortion and do not accept same-sex marriage) shall suffer the death penalty without delay. Senators, distinguished men and members of the equestrian class, (faithful lay Catholics are not excluded) are to be deprived of their rank and property, and if, after forfeiting their wealth and privileges, they still persist in professing Christianity (and defending the rights of the Church), they too are to be sentenced to death. Ladies of the upper classes are to be deprived of their property and exiled. In the case of members of the imperial staff, any who have either previously confessed or do now confess to being Christians shall have their property confiscated and shall be assigned as prisoners to the imperial estates.
To this decree the Emperor Valerian (Potus) attached a copy of the letter he had sent to the provincial governors concerning us. Every day we are hoping that this letter will arrive, for we are standing firm in faith and ready (Are we ready for the true fight, by shedding our blood?) to endure suffering, in expectation of winning the (battle for Religious Freedom and the) crown of eternal life through the help and mercy of the Lord. I must also inform you that Sixtus (Bishop you add the name) was put to death in a catacomb (you add the place) on the sixth of August (some date in the not too distant future), and four deacons with him (priests who like him faithfully preach the Truth). Moreover, the prefects in Rome (Washington) are pressing this persecution zealously and without intermission, to such a point that anyone brought before them (Cardinal, Bishop, Priest, Religious, laity, politician) is punished and his property (they may revoke our tax exempt status and seize our property through eminent domain) is claimed by the treasure.
I ask you to make these facts known to the rest of our fellow bishops, in order that by the exhortation of their pastors the brethren everywhere may be strengthened and prepared for the spiritual combat (St. Cyprian calls all of us, in today’s culture war against the Truth and against our Religious Freedom). Let all our people fix their minds not on death but rather on immortality; let them commit themselves to the Lord in complete faith and unflinching courage and make their confession with joy rather than in fear, knowing that in this contest the soldiers of God and Christ are not slain but rather win their crowns.
Farewell in the Lord, dearest brother.
I always thought I might die for the Faith when I was young, but who would have imagined where we are today. Are you prepared? Will you and I be able to die for Christ? Only the ones who live fully for Him now, will have the grace to die for Him.