“They who are unwilling to suffer persecutions, have not as yet begun to be Christians.” St Augustine
I was fascinated reading about St. Narcissus of Jerusalem today before mass. He was the Bishop of Jerusalem in 195 A.D. He was falsely accused of a horrific crime and his three accusers were determined to destroy him. Three persistent sinners, fearing Narcissus' severity in the observance of religious discipline, accused him of an unimaginable crime. The sinners maintained they were telling the truth by adding additional security into their claims. If they were not speaking the truth; one wished he might perish by fire; another, that he might be struck with a leprosy; and the third, that he might lose his sight. (Catholic.org) The first two seemed to meet their fate and the third recanted. Narcissus had preferred to stay as a hermit, but he returned to his see in Jerusalem. Apparently, he lived to be 116. More evidence of how our Lord saves us. My friends in the Carmelite Cloister remind me often that we do not seek revenge. We pray for others and allow God to do His work like a Father.
“For Jesus Christ, I am prepared to suffer more.” St. Maximillian Kolbe
The question remains – are we ready to suffer. Sometimes we feel like a punching bag for others to project their misery upon. Yet, my anchor is Christ despite all those hardships. After I met the movement, Communion and Liberation, people I knew for a long time questioned the validity of such a group. The Church has many rooms, and everyone is called to serve in his or her own way – as God sees fit. In the end, we must follow the path that Christ presented to us. I recall often how I tried very hard to be faithful to the experience I have met. It is not an easy road. People do not want you to succeed. My dad used to remind me to look for people ahead of you and not those who will bring you down.
“If the Church stays silent in the face of what is happening, what difference would it make if no Church were ever opened again?” Bl. Franz Jagerstatter
What a magnificent sentence! It strikes me that there is such courage in the world and in the Church, and I do not think that I can measure up. We can think of someone like Cardinal Pell and what he suffered. Also, Cardinal Van Thuan suffered in prison for 13 years yet he never lost faith in Christ. He would celebrate mass with crumbs of bread and wine smuggled in the prison. Such courage!
“How many of you pray for Christians who are persecuted? Pope Francis
Many Christians around the world suffered horrible fates. Stories emerge constantly and sometimes without a second glance. But Christians also suffer daily in our own countries. Lately, at mass, I have noticed that the prayers of the faithful include praying for our own country. We live well and yet we still suffer. The media is constantly berating the Catholic Church and even families laugh or chide their own who attend mass. We cannot give in. We can never surrender. We need to continue to stay faithful because the Lord will fulfill his promise to us.
"When insults have no effect on us, when persecutions and penalties have no terror for us, when prosperity or adversity has no influence on us, when friend and foe are viewed in the same light… do we not come close to sharing the serenity of God?” St Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167)