When they feared our loss
At the end of the 2nd century catholic apologist Tertullian could write to his antagonists that ‘without a doubt you would be frightened at your loneliness, at the silence of things, and at that certain stupor as of a dead world’ if Catholics merely removed themselves to ‘…some remote corner of the world.’
It was our numbers he argued, the sheer size of the Body of Christ that should persuade the ruling powers to be tolerant of the Christian message. Yes society would miss us, if only because they would not be as large without us. Today we would be hard pressed to find similar sentiments. With over one billion Catholics worldwide societies are more likely to prefer our absence if it would ensure less hypocrisy and less holier than thou attitudes.
But if we were to ask our neighbours if they could stomach just one more Mother Theresa the response would be different. Mother Theresa is not missed here on earth simply because she lowered our numbers. She is missed because the world craves holiness.
Let us show those we love what holiness looks like where we live. And then maybe, just maybe non-Christian societies will fear the loss of those followers of Christ once again.