Make known the plight of Persecuted Christians one of your New Year’s Resolutions

“We are experiencing a new age of martyrs. It seems that the cruel and vicious persecution of the Roman Empire has not yet ended. A new Nero is always being born to oppress believers solely because of their faith in Christ.”

Pope Francis

Maitiú O Duibhí – Dublin

For many, Christmas of 2018,  was a series of long-awaited family reunions, cheerful gatherings of old friends, the traditional singing of carols at  Christmas Mass in a local parish church and then returning home for a festive and leisurely meal. The time spent together was for most, beautiful, nostalgic and peaceful, but like all good things, it had to end. So at Mass, this Sunday, the statue of the baby Jesus had been put away for another year,  the Christmas tree taken down and the ornate decorations that adorned churches neatly returned to their boxes in the attic.  The Catholic world officially entered into ‘Ordinary Time’ and began telling anew, the story of the public life of its Founder from the time he was baptised in the river Jordan.

Three weeks ago, the majority of carol singing Christians in the Western world did so in safety. Most were not even remotely aware of a very different reality that faced many of their brothers and sisters in the faith. As the New Year dawned, 3,000 Christians did not sing ‘Silent Night’ for they had been silenced permanently— martyred during the year, for their belief that the carpenter’s son baptised by John in the river Jordan was also the Son of God. According to The Telegraph Newspaper, “more than 200 million believers, in the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, experience high levels of persecution because of their faith.”  North Korea tops the list and Egypt and India are also noted for the persecution of Christians.

Creating awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians is necessary. 2019 may usher in hopes of peace and prosperity; it may also bring us a new ‘era of martyrdom,’ according to Pope Francis, who was speaking to pilgrims in Rome three weeks ago. The Roman Pontiff went on to say that today there are many martyrs, “even if they do not make the headlines.”

To combat the silent suffering of Christians, last November, people across the world but especially in the UK and Ireland took part in a project called #RedWednesday – with cathedrals, churches, schools, colleges and universities floodlit in red, all ‘Making a Stand for Faith and Freedom.’ In London, iconic buildings and landmarks including Marble Arch, Lambeth Palace and the Houses of Parliament in London were all floodlit red as people joined a candle-light procession to Westminster Cathedral as a mark of solidarity with those persecuted because of their religious beliefs.  The project, now in its third year, was promoted by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Pontifical Charity that supports persecuted Christians.

Other countries participating in #RedWednesday included France where the Grand Mosque of Paris and the Great Synagogue of Paris went red, as did the Rialto Bridge, in Italy, Venice and Armagh Cathedral in Ireland.  In the Philippines, 47 cathedrals and 29 basilicas were also floodlit red.

Perhaps one of our new year’s resolutions for 2019 is to talk openly about those who suffer persecution and thus create an awareness of the dangers and hardships they endure.  To quote Pope Francis again: “How many Christians even now bear the burden of persecution, marginalisation, discrimination and injustice throughout our world. Yet they continue courageously to embrace death rather than deny Christ. How difficult it is, even today, freely to practice the faith in all those parts of the world where religious freedom and freedom of conscience do not exist.” (Zenit, Dec 21st 2018)

Source: The Telegraph 

Photo credit: Flickr 

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