Remembering Christ's martyrsFATHER GEORGE RUTLER
During the millennium celebrations of 2000, Pope John Paul II went to the Colosseum in Rome and remembered Christ's martyrs:
Chesterton said: "Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die." A recent example was Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Văn Thuận of Vietnam, who died in 2002. He became Coadjutor Archbishop of Saigon in 1975 and was imprisoned for 13 years, nine of those in solitary confinement. His serene witness seemed to have converted some of his guards. Those who are persecuted by those who hate the faith ("odium fidei") have great power from Heaven to strengthen the Church on earth. In 2009, a seminarian named Joseph Nguyen, whose parents had immigrated to the United States and had personally known Cardinal Nguyên Văn Thuận, contracted pneumonia complicated by swine flu. He lay in a coma for 32 days, after his heartbeat had dropped nearly beyond recovery and his brain activity ceased. His parents prayed for the intercession of Cardinal Nguyên Văn Thuận. The young man regained consciousness and said that while in the coma, he had two visions of the cardinal. He is now well and back in seminary.
The courage of Christ's witnesses is an embarrassment to those for whom Christ is not a holy mystery but just an enigma. This past week, the media cast a blind eye on the murder by jihadists of a 33-year-old Polish priest, Father Marek Rybinski, who ran a Salesian school in Tunisia. In Kabul, Afghanistan, after six years of torture and deprivation in prison, Said Musa was sentenced to public execution under sharia law for converting from Islam to Christianity. The father of six children, one disabled, had been working with the Red Cross since losing a leg to a landmine while serving in the Afghan army. Save for the Wall Street Journal, our newspapers have been uninterested in this. In 2006, the intervention of President Bush saved another convert, but there has been no similar executive appeal so far in the instance of Said Musa. Indeed, the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom still remains vacant in the present administration.
The courage of those who suffer far outweighs the weakness of those who do nothing, and it greatly strengthens the Church. "For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
Father George William Rutler. "Remembering Christ's martyrs." From the Pastor (February 26, 2011).
Reprinted with permission of Father George W. Rutler.
Since 1988 his weekly television program has been broadcast worldwide on EWTN. Father Rutler has published 17 books, including: Cloud of Witnesses - Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.
Copyright © 2011 Father George W. Rutler
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