Keeping up with the news on the jihad front is, sadly, a necessary part of this work. One senses it bubbling up all over, like a pot coming to a boil. For Christians, however, awareness of all this should not prompt despair, but rather compel us to persevere and grow deeper in our most holy faith.
Such has been the message of the saints throughout two millennia. St John admonishes us in the Book of the Apocalypse,
He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints (Rev 13:10).
And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on’” (Rev 14:11-13).Christ has come to set us free. Therefore, those who lead into captivity are themselves spiritual captives of the devil, and will be confined with him in hell. Those who kill with the sword shall find themselves confounded by the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and are spiritually dead. (And who was it who spread his evil religion by the sword? That this is a rhetorical question does not prevent us from openly condemning Muhammad, whom St John of Damascus identified as the prophet of antichrist.)
Now the warning against receiving the mark of the beast, according to many holy fathers, is not referring so much to a physical mark, nor to a subcutaneous barcode or transmitter or some such thing, but rather to the giving of assent and the submission of one's will. This can take the form of a merely functional choice, in order for one to preserve one's way of life in the world. This is why in Rev 14:9 the angel warns of the torments to come upon those who "worship the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand."
The fathers teach us that the mark on the forehead indicates the assent of the mind and will, and coupling with the dictates of the beast. The mark on the hand may point to a mere superficial acceptance of domination, so as to be able to buy and sell and live in peace. Other fathers warn that the mark on the right hand indicates the rejection of Christ, for it is with the right hand that we make the sign of the Cross. Thus concealing our faith so as to "coexist" and keep ourselves safe from persecution may extend to not making the sign of the Cross in public. Such a simple sin of omission becomes our condemnation!
The notion that a Christian could preserve his faith while accepting the temporal domination of the beast is repudiated by this image. This is why the faithful Russian hierarchs in the 1920s, like Bishop Theophan of Poltava and others, condemned the Soviet regime as of the antichrist, and were mercilessly persecuted and slaughtered for it. They knew that even tacit acceptance of the rule of the beast was a denial of Christ. Here also is the secret, infernal implication of the profane dhimma contract in Islamic sharia: the "third way" offered to Christians by their Muslim conquerors (if they refuse to convert to Islam) is to acknowledge the superiority of Islam and deny their right to build or repair their churches, deny any right to openly practice their faith, ring their bells, wear a cross, or show any outward sign of their Christian faith, including making the sign of the Cross! Thus the terms of the dhimma contract are not merely oppressive, but lead to a de facto denial of Christ and acceptance of the mark on the hand. Christian dhimmis thus suffer a most horrendous form of living martyrdom, striving to preserve their faith when everything raised against them demands they deny it.
Yet we must not lose hope! All of these images in the Apocalypse are given to us to strengthen and embolden our patience and our faith. The Lord tells us, "Lift up your heads, for your redemption draws nigh" (LK 21:28).
Let us consider these spiritual realities as we survey the ominous signs below.
Muslim Persecution of Christians: November, 2011
Study Shows U.S. Mosques Repositories of Sharia, Jihad, and Muslim Brotherhood Literature and Preachers
Nigeria's Christmas Present: Blown Up Christians
Nigeria's Blackest Christmas Ever
Obama Administration Reverses US Policy in Reaching Out to Muslim Brotherhood
New York Times
The Muslim Brotherhood Will Become Much More Savage After Elections
Israel Security Council: Obama Naive Regarding Muslim Brotherhood
Naive... or something worse?
Israel National News
Jihad Plotting Persists in Mosques:
Studies from 1999 to the present consistently show that at least 80% of Mosques in U.S. teach jihad, Islamic supremacism, hatred of Christians and Jews, and the necessity to impose Islamic rule.
Staten Island Jihadist Blows Lid Off Muslim Plotter Network in U.S.
'Arab Spring' fuels rising tide of discrimination and violence against Christians
Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Goal: Islamic Caliphate
Al Masri Al Youm
Nigeria: Islamic Militants Boko Haram warn Christians to leave North in three days, or else.
Coptic priest: We will resist reimposition of jizya to the point of martyrdom
JihadWatch via MEMRI
Egypt: Coptic Bishop warns of more church bobbing threats; New Year's festivities canceled, kidnappings on the rise.
Assyrian International News Agency
Saudi Textbooks Teach Islamic Extremism
Distorting Reality to Justify Jihad