During his Friday homily Pope Francis spoke about the persecution of Christians under secularism and other violent ideologies:
“All the people whom the Holy Spirit chooses to tell the truth to the People of God suffer persecution,” said Pope Francis – and Jesus “is precisely the model, the icon.” The Lord took upon Himself “all the persecutions of His people.” The Holy Father went on to note that Christians continue to suffer persecution even today. “I dare say,” he added, “that perhaps there are as many or more martyrs now that in the early days,” because they tell the truth and proclaim Christ Jesus to a worldly society in love with ease and desirous of avoiding problems.”:
“There is the death penalty or imprisonment for having the Gospel at home, for teaching the Catechism, today, in some parts of the world. A Catholic from one of these countries told me that they cannot pray together. It is forbidden. People can only pray alone and in secret – but they want to celebrate the Eucharist and how do they do? They throw a birthday party, they pretend to celebrate the birthday there and [have Mass] before the ‘party’. It has happened. When they see the police arrive, they just hide everything and [continue with the birthday party-cover]. Then, when [authorities] leave, they finish the [Mass]. They have to do so, because it is forbidden to pray together: in this very day.”
This history of persecution, he remarked , “is the way of the Lord: it is the path of those who follow the Lord.” Pope Francis went on to say that this story ends as always in Resurrection, though only by passing by way of the Cross. The Holy Father then turned his attention to Fr. Matteo Ricci, SJ, an evangelizer of China, who was not understood, either. “He obeyed as Jesus did, though,” said Pope Francis. “Always,” he continued, “there will be persecutions, misunderstandings. Jesus is Lord, however, and that is the challenge and the Cross of our faith.” The Pope concluded, asking God to give us the grace to go on His way, and if it happens, even with the cross of persecution.”
M Donnelly comment: Pray for those who are persecuted and for strength to protect our faith.