One of my previous rosary meditations was on The Second Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus’ Scourging. I discussed how I see suffering broken down into different groups; one of them being actively-persecuted Christians. Pope Benedict XVI also calls us to meditate on the persecuted Christians in our world. We are called to not only pray for them, but to really contemplate deeply how their experiences mirror the Passion of Jesus Christ. This article discusses how the strength and faith of persecuted Catholics around the world shows us the power of the Holy Spirit that is in all of us.
I think it is very easy for people in the Western world, the United States in particular, to overlook that many Christians around the world are persecuted in their countries. Many of us tend to see persecution as something from a previous era. The first image that comes to my mind is one of people being fed to lions in an arena while a Roman emperor watches. Not exactly a modern example now, is it? Perhaps we may not want to think about persecution and instead focus on happier topics such as our Lord’s resurrection. Many of us also have no idea what real persecution and suffering is. For those of us living in relative safety, persecution means receiving an odd look or a condescending comment if you tell someone you are a practicing Catholic. I personally have a hard time praying for the needs of people around the world who actually face the same threats and challenges as early Christians. And unfortunately, because I do not actively suffer for my faith, those who do are quickly forgotten during the course of my day. Sure, I may think about them momentarily during a small prayer, but sometimes their problems just seem too big and it is far easier for me to retreat to Facebook or television.
We cannot turn a blind eye to those who actively suffer because of their faith. Of course we must keep them in our prayers and help them any way possible (probably by supporting a charitable, relief organization) to relieve or eliminate their suffering. Charity is always a great way to put our faith into practice. But we also must remember the persecuted because they are a very real example of following Christ’s path. Their suffering and faith reminds us just how real and relevant Jesus’ teachings in our lives. Through their faith in Jesus Christ these people have the strength to overcome their hardships. By meditating and praying for the persecuted we not only give them the hope and power to overcome their terrible situation, but we also prepare ourselves for the difficult moments in our lives. If the persecuted Catholics in places like China, India, and the Sudan can find the strength to practice their faith then that should be a sign that ALL of us have that same strength. The persecuted are evidence that the God did not only come into this world thousands of years ago and then left us to fend for ourselves. Their perseverance shows that God has always been with us through the very real prescience of the Holy Spirit to give us the guidance and strength to overcome any obstacle this world has to offer.
Let us pray for those who live out the Second Sorrowful Mystery every day. While we may never know their suffering, they are proof on how strong our faith in God can be. Let us pray that we let the Holy Spirit penetrate our hearts and minds and guide us through whatever hard times we may encounter. We know that the world can be a cruel and difficult place, but at the same time we have faith that God will see us through it. While some events do not go as we wish, let us pray that we truly have faith that God has a plan for all of us that lead us into His Heavenly kingdom. While it is easy to say that we have faith in God’s divine plan when everything goes smoothly, the real test is to trust in God when life turns difficult. But if the faith of the persecuted Christians is any indication, we know we can endure whatever challenges the world may bring.