Love toward Christ demands sacrifices. And truly the ancient Christians were subjected to sacrifices who, during the persecutions of the first three centuries suffered numerous severe trials, and, the Christians of subsequent centuries, even till today, suffered with fortitude martyrdoms of equal force with those of the ancients (Neo-martyrs under the Turkish Yoke, Christians under the previous Block, Orthodox Serbians, and others).
But in the end times it seems that the persecution will be even more clandestine. In order not to be regarded by the common opinion as cruel and merciless persecutors, so that neither their victims can draw sympathy, the persecutors will slaughter “with white gloves,” according to the common saying. Now they will not send forth irrational beasts and swords and flames and torture racks, because they know that these things render the persecuted ones sympathetic. They will utilize other methods with which – though in reality they will be persecuting – no sense whatever of threat or fear will be created. Quite the opposite, their weapon will be the bait. The Christian world will be enticed by the things they offer in order to follow them. Besides, we see also during the early persecutions that the persecutors utilized not only threats (tortures, executions) but also the enticements (promises, gifts, comforts, honors).
If the faithful were then primarily in danger from the threats, it seems we are now more in danger from the enticements.
(Excerpted and translated from Apocalyptic Times by + Bishop Augustine)