The Gospel Truth

The Blood of a Martyred Faith | July 9, 2010

In 1965, right after graduating from the Cross, I served for a year in the Catholic Lay Extension, which was something comparable to the secular program, Volunteers in Service to America. (VISTA)

The Extension Volunteers sent us to various parishes, primarily in the South and Southeast where the Catholic population was sparse.

I was sent to Charleston, Missouri with an older fellow from New Jersey.

One of the other volunteers in our troupe was a cute little nurse, named Barbara Bertelsmann.

I remember that she told me once that she had attended a public school in Ohio that employed Catholic nuns as teachers.

This oddity prompted me to say, apparently without thinking  that she had gone to a nun-Catholic school.

That story serves perfectly as a segue to a video clip making the rounds on the Net that shows an extract from a recent performance of the comic play, Late Nite Catechism II.

Since I spend eight years of my early intellectual and moral development under the tutelage of nuns, I find any reverential parody of them, such as this one, the older Nunsense, and the original Late Nite Catechism, are all in good fun.

A religion that can’t laugh at its own foibles, is closer to man than it is to God.

Sister starts with her belief that Catholics are not bothered by martyrdom any more because America has a policy of freedom and religious toleration.

On the surface what Sister says is true–at least in this country.  There are still plenty of Church martyrs dying in Africa, Asia and even in Latin America.

Since 9/11 and the war on terror, the idea of martyrdom has taken on new meaning.

You can’t read a book about Islam or the Middle East with encountering their notion of martyrdom.

And you don’t have to be a theologian to see the difference between a faith that defines martyrdom in terms of how many infidels one can kill in gaining paradise with an ample supply of virgins, and one that stresses the bloody sacrifice of one’s OWN of one’s own life in defense of one’s faith.

For accuracy’s sake, I will grant that during the Crusades some popes did in indeed promise salvation for those who died in defense of the Catholic Church in Asia Minor.

As part of my spiritual reading during Lent, I read Evelyn Waugh’s 1935 biography of Jesuit martyr Edmund Campion who was brutally executed in the 16th century for treason, by being drawn and quartered.

If any one has seen the old Mel Gibson movie Braveheart about legendary Scottish hero, William Wallace, you have an idea of what that entails.

One of the Elizabeth I moviesthe one with Helen Mirren I believeis much more graphic and stomach-turning.

In light of such brutal suffering of our Catholic martyrs, I often ask myself if put to the test, that is my life or my faith, which would I choose?

Fortunately Sister is right and that kind of gruesome exam is virtually non-existent in America today.

However I think there is a more subtle kind of martyrdom, taking place.

I am talking about a dry martyrdom, that is, the relentless attacks on the Catholic faith from what John Paul II called the culture of death.

This is not the death of the rack, the gallows, or the block but a clever attempt to cut away or weaken the basic tenets of the Catholic Church through innuendoes, falsehoods, historical, and doctrinal deconstruction, so that there will be no need for any “wet” martyrdoms because, there will be few true believers left standing.

It will be the faith that will suffer this martyrdom on a cross of relativism, indifference, and boredom, thanks to a daily dose of propaganda in the media, books, schools, and in even their own churches.

Hollywood has long been an agent of this bloodless martyrdom.  Just check out Dan Brown and his cinematic assault on Christianity is in the DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons.

It was his commercially successful The Code that rocked the Catholic world in 2006 with its revival of the Gnostic myth of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene.

Demons’ producers have promised that their new movie is even less reverential to the faith than the Code was.

In Demons Harvard Symbologist, Harry Langdon’s embarks on a relentless pursuit in exposing the Catholic Church’s dark historical secrets.

Langdon learns that a secret society, the Illuminati, which listed such luminaries as Italian astronomer, Galileo in its membership, was on a 400-year old journey of revenge to even the score with the Church, which Brown claims murdered most of its members in the 16th century.

Like the Code, Demons is heavily laden with historical, geographical and intellectual errors. Its two most blatant falsehoods revolve around its central theme.

There never was any secret society in the 16th century named the Illuminati.

Brown is either confusing it with the Knights Templar, a legendary society of warrior monks, which was virtually destroyed by French King Philip IV with the forced compliance of Pope Clement V in 1312 or the real Illuminati, a revolutionary secret society, founded by one of the most sinister figures in history, a Jesuit product, Adam Weishaupt in Bavaria in 1776.

In using Galileo as its perfect victim, the film also attempts to drive a wedge through the Church’s long and laudatory relationship with science.

Using a malevolent blend of fact and fantasy, Brown hopes to convince people of the Church’s backward status and eliminate it as a viable opponent to such scientific advances, one may assume, of embryonic stem cell research and human cloning.

After the Code, the Vatican understandably, not only denied any material cooperation with director Ron Howard, but urged a boycott of the film as well.

Demons was not as successful as the 1st because most people don’t like theological debates.  If it doesn’t have sex  or a car chase, they lose interest quickly.

(Demons did have one car chase but no sex.)

So successful has been the forces of secularism that apathy rules more than any visceral bashing of someone’s religious faith.

When the movie came out in the theaters, I rushed to see it so that I might be better equipped to refute its silly and erroneous charges.

As it happened only the gullible who would believe any slander against the Church fell prey to Brown’s latest attempt to humiliate the Catholic Church.

I think that is always the best way to the best way for Catholics to defuse the left’s assault on it–tell the truth .

In understanding this dry martyrdom, Catholics should remember that being a real martyr means literally bearing witness to the truth.

If Catholics and other Christians don’t stand up for their respective beliefs, the blood of our martyred faith may be on our hands.



  1. Excellent. I suffer the dry martyrdom constantly and pray that Our Lady of Fatima will fulfill her promise that IN THE END MY IMMACULATE HEART WILL TRIUMPH. Pope Benedict also proclaims the same thing. But what will we suffer in the next 7 years. Pax

    Comment by Mary B — July 9, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  2. Recent comments on the Internet News opens the doors to martyrdom of White Crackers and their Babies in the US. This speech is protected by nun other than AG Holder, Obama’s muscle man heading a corrupt Injustice department protected by a second line of defense, the Democratic Party and Liberal Republicans.
    We are One Nation Under God, not Obama , Islam or the Democratic Party and their supporters.
    Where are our Bishops??

    Comment by Jim Vondras — July 9, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

  3. Yes, ‘white martyrdom’ can come in many forms, and may not be as ‘glamorous’ as those who die in bloodshed. To preserve one’s faith in the face of subtle and not so subtle putdowns, rejection and worldly temptations, the temptation to slack off and pursue our own agendas and to get back at those who offend us are among the most common today. We need to witness to God living among us, to inspire and support each other–for most of us this will require an equal amount of heroism, as these efforts may run over many years. For a dose of inspiration I invite you to check out a newly published book this summer called ‘Graffiti On My Soul’ by Johanna. It is like spinach to Popeye!!

    Comment by Johanna — July 9, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

  4. Good ending, Bill. The imagery of us having their blood on our hands for our negligence is very effective.

    Comment by Jim Rygelski — July 11, 2010 @ 10:48 pm

  5. Johanna:

    Since you are the author you might elaborate a little further what your book is about. I wouldn’t call it “white” martyrdom—sounds too racial though that might come down the pike. I used the term “wet” versus “dry.” This is what contract killers use. BB

    Comment by bbprof — July 12, 2010 @ 2:57 am

  6. reading books is my hobby and Dan Brown is one of the best authors that i have known `;;

    Comment by Hormone Replacement — November 25, 2010 @ 5:21 am

    • So many books and so littel time is my motto. BB

      Comment by bbprof — November 25, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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