Today, we’re going to start discussing chapters 1-8 of The Purple Mantle. This is another book that I haven’t read in awhile but have always loved, so I’m glad I was able to re-visit it. As I began writing this post, I got a little carried away (imagine that!) and it turned out to be much longer than originally planned. So, I’m going to break it up into two parts. The second part will contain the actual book club questions and will be posted shortly.
This story really takes me to it’s setting. I can feel the tension and joy, smell the smoke, and hear the whispers. Though it’s set over 1700 years ago, in the time of the Roman Empire, so much of it applies today, so much of it is happening again in our time. Is history repeating itself yet again? If so, then let us remind ourselves also that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:7-9). And He will give us the same strength He gave to the martyrs we’re reading about.
I always read books from cover to cover, including all the dedications and acknowledgements. I think it is the writer in me. The words that are written in those little paragraphs are so full of heart that it gives me more of an appreciation of the work that was put into what I’m about to read. They’re tiny thank-you’s for a dream come true for the author. The dedication in this book was simply beautiful and gave me goosebumps. It reads,
“The English translation of The Purple Mantle is humbly dedicated to the memory of Rachel Scott of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and to all the unknown martyrs of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, both of the ages past and of those yet to come.”
Of those yet to come. Those five words provoked so many thoughts for me.
In one thought, that seems almost surreal to me. There are more martyrs to come? Now? In our modern, tolerant, politically correct, free society? Surely, we have evolved enough as human beings to live in peace with each other. No one would go so far as to hurt someone else because of different beliefs! Who can be so naive as to believe the whole world must think as they do?
But then I’m reminded of Fr. Daniel Sysoev, who was martyred in Russia in 2009. I remind myself that though these things have not penetrated our borders and comfortable lifestyles yet, does not mean they won’t.
Then in another thought, I feel like these things are lurking behind the next corner. More and more Christian organizations are being targeted for defending their beliefs. Employees from different corporations are being asked to remove their crosses while their co-workers of different beliefs can proudly dress in their religious garments and symbols. Society is quickly becoming more intolerant of Christians, ironically, in the name of tolerance and co-existence.
Now, I have many friends (and family members) that *I love dearly* of different faiths, backgrounds, etc. and we live and interact with each other with no awkwardness at all, because I respect their beliefs and they respect mine. This is the ideal situation. But unfortunately, there are many people who want respect without any inclination to give it in return.
So what do we do in those situations when certain people want everyone to believe what they believe?
Make no mistake, I’m not giving anyone advice for them specifically, these matters are always best discussed with your spiritual father (if you don’t have one, get one ), but rather my simple opinion. As Christians, we should always act, and re-act, with love. No doubt about it. But if we are always acting with love, how do we defend ourselves and our beliefs when attacked? Again, with love. Confusing, isn’t it? It certainly seems so. Especially, with the false sense of love that society has cultivated. You can’t say something is wrong, because that would make you judgmental and you certainly cannot say that someone is wrong because what kind of love would that be? So, we are to just accept anything and everything, in the name of love, and ‘mind our own business’. Put our blinders on and say, “It is for God to judge.” Right? Wrong. We are not to judge another person, this is clear BUT where the confusion comes in is when you’re judging an action, not a person. Murder is wrong, is it not? Is it wrong to say a person who kills another person is wrong? Absolutely not. Then, why are other circumstances any different?
God has clearly taught us the difference between wrong and right. We are to love each other as we love ourselves. However, we are also to love the Lord our God with all our minds, heart and strength. How can we do that if we are watching His Word be trampled? There are times when it is best that we keep silent. There are also times where we are called by Him to stand up and defend Him. It is for each individual to discern between the two.
What one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace. -John Wesley
Are we helping to create a world estranged from God for our children by not speaking up and standing by while our religious rights are stripped away? Every other religious and political group is busy defending their beliefs, why have the Christians become silent?
Of course, this book has made me very zealous, lol. I constantly struggle with this. I feel like God is calling us to take things more seriously but I am too accustomed to my comforts to really pay attention.
When I’m in my comfortable mode, I feel myself lax. I think, just live in the moment, if it happens then you take a stand and toughen up. Christians have been thinking this way throughout the centuries, you can’t worry and prepare for something that may never happen in your lifetime. But that is where I’m wrong. Yes, Christians have been thinking this way throughout the centuries. They’ve also been enduring martyrdom throughout the centuries. And I certainly can, and should, be preparing for something that might not, but that also very well could, happen in my lifetime. There is no preparation for persecution except for prayer. And you definitely can’t prepare for persecution when it is already knocking at your door. At least, we shouldn’t wait for that to happen first, right? We need to think about the ‘what if’s‘. What if, it started tomorrow? What if, like in Russia and Serbia and so many other countries, you are living your life as normal in the morning and by nightfall have been pulled from your home, separated from your family and thrown into prison or concentration camps? What if? What would I have wanted my children to know if they were called to martyrdom? What would I do differently? Why not prepare for that now? Do you have anything to lose? Other than having to suck it up and take life a little bit more seriously?
This book raised so many of those questions for me. And I’m glad because I need a good wake up call every now and then.
You can read my other thoughts about The Purple Mantle here. If you aren’t part of the book club, I would still highly recommend picking up this book and reading it. It’s just excellent. You can read a brief excerpt here on Matushka Konstantina’s blog, Lessons from a Monastery.
Also, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a 50-knot prayer rope. Details can be found here.