Pope Francis pays tribute to recent Christian martyrs

At morning mass recently, Pope Francis honored the many Christians who are persecuted and killed for their faith around the world, and requested we remember them:

The true history of the Church is that of the saints and the martyrs. In these days how many Stephens there are in the world! Let us think of our brothers whose throats were slit on the beach in Libya; let’s think of the young boy who was burnt alive by his companions because he was a Christian; let us think of those migrants thrown from their boat into the open sea by other migrants because they were Christians; let us think – just the day before yesterday – of those Ethiopians assassinated because they were Christians… and of many others. Many others of whom we do not even know and who are suffering in jails because they are Christians. The Church today is a Church of martyrs: they suffer, they give their lives and we receive the blessing of God for their witness.

God’s Word is always rejected by some. God’s Word is inconvenient when you have a stone heart, when you have a pagan heart, because God’s Word asks you to go ahead trying to satisfy your hunger with the bread which Jesus spoke of. In the history of the Revelation many martyrs have been killed for their faith and loyalty towards God’s Word, God’s Truth.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at Casa Santa Marta

He also expressed solidarity with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, after the recent murder by ISIS of 28 Ethiopian Christians, sending a message of condolence to the Patriarch Matthias:

With great distress and sadness I learn of the further shocking violence perpetrated against innocent Christians in Libya. I reach out to you in heartfelt spiritual solidarity to assure you of my closeness in prayer at the continuing martyrdom being so cruelly inflicted on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and some parts of Asia. It makes no difference whether the victims are Catholic, Copt, Orthodox or Protestant, their blood is one and the same in their confession of Christ!

Please remember these martyrs in your prayers.

Advertisements

Novena starts today: Mary, Undoer of Knots

One of my favorite websites begins a novena today — to Mary, Undoer of Knots (one of Pope Francis’ favorites!)

Here is a quote from Irenaeus about Mary loosening our knot of sin:

The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary.

For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the Virgin Mary set free through faith.

Irenaeus

Mary undoer of knots

I hope you can join in praying this novena!

“Their blood confesses Christ”

“The blood of Christians is a testimony that cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.

Pope Francis

Prayer for Persecuted Christians

Father Robert Barron requests:

“The news of 21 Coptic Christians mercilessly slaughtered this past weekend reminds us that age of the martyrs is not a time long ago, but right now. Let us pray today for all those suffering religious persecution, and particularly for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.

“Pope Francis eloquently said that ‘the blood of Christians is a testimony that cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. They are Christians! Their blood is one and the same. Their blood confesses Christ.’

“Let us join in prayer with our Holy Father and in communion with all Christians who are persecuted, especially those who live and profess their faith under the threat of violence and death.”

Pope Francis’ Christmas message to Middle East Christians

This is such a moving, beautiful message that Pope Francis sent to Christians in the Middle East, that I had to share part of it.

“The majority of you live in environments which are predominantly Muslim. You can help your Muslim fellow citizens to present with discernment a more authentic image of Islam, as so many of them desire, reiterating that Islam is a religion of peace, one which is compatible with respect for human rights and favors peaceful coexistence on the part of all. This will prove beneficial for them and for all society.

“The tragic situation faced by our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, as well as by the Yazidi and members of other religious and ethnic communities, demands that all religious leaders clearly speak out to condemn these crimes unanimously and unambiguously, and to denounce the practice of invoking religion in order to justify them. Your very presence is precious for the Middle East. You are a small flock, but one with a great responsibility in the land where Christianity was born and first spread.”

Pope Francis

You can read the rest of His Holiness’ message here.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…”

Pope Francis recently requested prayers for Jerusalem: “I invite you to pray that the Holy City, dear to Jews, Christians and Muslims, which in recent days has witnessed diverse tensions, always be a sign and foretaste of the peace which God desires for the whole human family.”

Jerusalemflower

Rabbi Yehuda Glick, an advocate for the equal right of all religions to pray in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount, was recently a victim of an assassination attempt. I pray that his efforts to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflicts between religions in that region may come to fruition.

Rabbi Yehuda Glick prays with Muslims at the Temple Mount:

.

Please pray!

_()_

Recognizing Intrinsic Goodness

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13: 35

Such good news from the Synod report today! It is good when Christians acknowledge the intrinsic worth and goodness of all their brothers and sisters, without regard to their marriage status or sexual preferences, etc. but recognizing that all people have “gifts and qualities to offer.” And this is in line with what Pope Francis said earlier, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners. And we are all sinners, and cannot judge one another. There is a wise saying in Buddhism, that I should never attack another person, because I cannot know if he is not further along the path to enlightenment than I am. We can all learn from each other and benefit from others’ gifts.

And we are here to serve each other, offering Christ’s love to each other. I especially loved the paragraph that spoke to this need to minister to one another:

Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm.

So, I’m thrilled that my adoptive Church is taking this step to implement Pope Francis’ call for us to be servants to all! “Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.” We are called to humble ourselves, to love others and be kind to our fellow travelers in this earthly pilgrimage and pray for each other, and not to presume to know where someone else stands in their relationship with God. We are all sheep; none of us is the Shepherd.

“Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God.” 1 Peter 2: 16

Paradoxically, it is in this serving others, and serving God through serving others, that we find real freedom. Be blessed in answering God’s call!

Cardinal Bergoglio washes feet

Cardinal Bergoglio washes feet

That those with mental disabilities may receive the love and help they need…

The Holy Father’s prayer intentions for the month of September were for those with mental disabilities, “that they may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life”, and for service for the poor, “that Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.”

I’m particularly grateful for September’s prayer intentions. I believe Pope Francis’ call for change in the world’s treatment of the poor, and change in our political and economic systems that glorify wealth and create deep divisions between the rich and poor, is one of the most moving of his messages to the world. And especially since he practices what he preaches!

I’m also very moved by his prayers for those with mental disabilities, since my family has been particularly plagued with mental problems. Both my husband and I suffer from depression, and have to take medication to help fight it off. Both of my parents, and Jim’s father, all suffered from depression as well, and my father suffered from alcoholism for many years.

When I was in high school, my older sister became anorexic, and lost so much weight that she was around 60 pounds before she was hospitalized to receive treatment. (This was before Karen Carpenter died from anorexia, so nobody knew what on earth was going on with my sister or could figure out what to do for her.)

My mother had a mild form of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) where she compulsively made lists with little grids and boxes and checked things off all the time, but at least it was fairly harmless. My younger two children also have OCD, and have to take medication for it.

Jim and I like to joke, “Mental illness doesn’t run in our family, it gallops!” 🙂

My oldest son has a most severe and scary mental problem, though: paranoid schizophrenia. For a few years after high school, we noticed he seemed to have problems, but hadn’t realized what it was till a friend, who also has a child with this disorder, listened to a description of his actions and gave us her opinion of what was troubling our son. Anyway, after a couple of stints in a prison/hospital (after threatening suicide), he’s now on medication, doing better, and hopefully will continue the upward trend.

Those with mental disability are always in my prayers, but I’m grateful that the Holy Father has been praying about this, because I believe that the prayers of the righteous are particularly efficacious. (That’s why we ask the saints for their prayers, right?)

Pope Francis in prayer.

Next month’s prayer intentions of His Holiness are for Peace (“That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence”) and for World Mission Day (“That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.”)

Please join the Holy Father in prayer!