Sunday, September 21, 2008

Persecution of Christians around the world

Yesterday we recalled the martyrdom of Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions who were killed for the faith in Korea during persecutions of the early 1800's. The day before we celebrated the feast day of St. Januarius, a bishop martyred by beheading around 300 A.D. during the Diocletion persecutions. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

In the Breviary a longer account is given. There we are told that "Timotheus, President of Campania," was the official who condemned the martyrs, that Januarius was thrown into a fiery furnace, but that the flames would not touch him, and that the saint and his companions were afterwards exposed in the amphitheatre to wild beasts without any effect. Timotheus declaring that this was due to magic, and ordering the martyrs to be beheaded, the persecutor was smitten with blindness, but Januarius cured him, and five thousand persons were converted to Christ before the martyrs were decapitated.

I bring up these martyrs because news from around the world reminds us that persecution is not something that belonged alone to yesteryear. It is alive and well today in many forms. But, nothing should draw our attention more than when people are being killed for the faith and suffering physical torment. Here are just a few headlines:

Please keep our brothers and sisters in distant lands in your prayers.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!