Saturday, March 11, 2006
The Age of Martyrs Continues: 2005
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Just this week I read the somber reality that the day of martyrs is not over. In 2005 Fides, the news agency for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, reported 26 missionaries died for serving the Gospel message of Our Lord: "Go forth and make disciples of all nations."

These people are living example of the need for an adamant faith in our times. It is only by God's grace that these people could have laid down their lives. Now these men and women surely have been rewarded with eternal life. Let us keep their souls in our prayers nonetheless, but let us also pray that the continued persecution of Catholics and Christians immediately ceases. Everyday Catholics are forced to celebrate their faith in fear in certain countries. They need our prayers as brothers and sisters in Christ.

According to Fides, in 2005, one bishop, 20 priests, two religious brothers, two nuns, and one lay missionary were murdered for their work for the poor and spreading the Gospel. And this is the 21st Century! We must realize the love that is required to be a Catholic. As Catholics we all are called to possess that same love for Christ that we would rather lay down our lives for Him than offend him. Only through love of the Eucharist and continual prayer can we hope to achieve such a beautiful faith.

These figures from Fides, however, were finalized before the December 28, 2005, murder of Ursuline Sister Clementine Brantschen from South Africa. The 74-year-old Swiss nun was shot during a robbery. The bishop that died in 2005 was Bishop Luigi Locati, an Italian who was working in Kenya. Pope Benedict XVI wrote, in his book On the Way to Jesus Christ: "Missionary work requires, first and foremost, being prepared for martyrdom, a willingness to lose oneself for the sake of the truth and for the sake of others."

As we clearly see the age of martyrs is not over, so let us keep all missionaries in our prayers. The world is in need of prayers desperately.

Prayer for Missionaries

O Almighty God, Lord of the harvest of souls, we ask You to guide and bless all who have gone forth to preach the gospel. Endow them with the gifts of generosity and concern. Send your Holy Spirit on them, that He may strengthen them in weakness, comfort them in trials and direct their efforts. May He open the hearts of their hearers to receive Your message. Let Your revelation enlighten all minds for the salvation of souls, and let Your love heal every heart and body for the happiness of each person. May all people consciously acknowledge You and serve You by living the teachings of Your Son. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Image Source: Believed to be from the AP

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