We Catholics in English, Spanish, and Italian speaking countries do experience some forms of persecution, but what we go through yearly is nothing compared to what our brothers and sisters are going through on a daily basis nearly everywhere else in the world. We don’t have to worry about someone coming in and blowing up the Church while we are at Mass. If I felt called to the Priesthood I know that that choice would not cost me my physical life. In these lands we can walk down the street with our Rosary in hand and not get shot for it. It may be hard finding employment at times for some people, but try being a Catholic in Pakistan where you would not even be able to find a job that affords you a decent meal everyday, just because of your choice of religion.
The followers of Jesus Christ have a nearly 2,000 year track record of being lied about, persecuted, marginalized, discriminated against, and murdered. This is not the say that we are victims, for Jesus Himself said, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you” (John 15:18-19).
It has always been dangerous to follow Jesus openly. Even all by one of the Apostles were murdered for their choice. If they killed God who came in the flesh as Christ, why would they kill us who follow Him?
Just this month, former President George W. Bush stated, concerning his decision of invade the country of Iraq in 2002 and ‘relieve’ Saddam Hussein of his Presidential duties, “I will say definitely the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, as are 25 million people who now have a chance to live in freedom,” Apparently the 25 million people whom Mr. Bush is referring to are not the hundreds of thousand Catholic-Christians in Iraq who are being kidnapped, tortured, having their homes and Churches burned and bomb on a daily basis. It has gotten so bad that a Syrian Orthodox Catholic Bishop has called for all Iraqi Christians to leave their homeland, adding, “Since 2003, there has been no protection for Christians. We’ve lost many people and they’ve bombed our homes, our churches, monasteries.”
Just last week some 58 people attending Mass at Our Lady of Salvation Church in the Karrada neighborhood of central Baghdad were murdered; including women, children and two priests. The assailants took more than 100 people hostage in a standoff that ended after police stormed the Church two hours later. At least 25 of those killed were hostages. The kidnappers were demanding the release of al-Qaeda prisoners from Iraqi and Egyptian jails, Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh reported from Baghdad.
The Islam State of Iraq (an al-Qaida front group claiming responsibility for the attack) claims that female Muslims were being held against their will in Coptic Catholic-Christian monasteries in Egypt. On November 2nd they stated on their website that all Christians in Iraq will be “extirpated and dispersed”; that “all Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the muhajideen wherever they can reach them”; and that they “will open upon them the doors of destruction and rivers of blood.”
This sounds scary, but this is nothing different that what the followers of Christ have endured since the beginning. It was not so many centuries ago in the United States and England where Catholics were having their Churches burned, not allowed to vote, own land, and other forms of persecutions at the hands of those who said they love Jesus. And this is the type of persecution that goes on in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and India all day, every day.
God is going to bring us through this as He always does and the blood of our martyrs will be the price of conversion for those who hate us.
Recently on Facebook I posted a link to an article about the event at Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, and a person responded back that we needed to pray for those who were hurt, and for the souls of the faithful departed. I agree – we do need to pray for them, but we also need to pray for those lost souls who are terrorizing our brothers and sisters throughout the world. I truly believe that they would do better if they could; I believe that if they heard the authentic Gospel message they would believe, but, for now, they have to bamboozled by Satan himself to do his work. We need to pray for their conversion. Perhaps there is a Saint Paul amongst them. Christ Jesus died for them just as He died for us, and His Blood has paid the price for their salvation just as it did for ours.
Join me in praying, sacrifice, and fasting for the conversion of those who hate us.