Christians being forced to leave their homes in Mosul, with their goods confiscated. Christians caught in the cross-fire between Moslems and Jews in the Holy Land. Christian children kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Christians feeling pressure from secularist legislation. A Christian woman in Sudan sentenced to death for being Christian... We usually think of all these as isolated incidents, and we tend to assume that Christianity is generally welcomed and tolerated. Not true. According to a recent piece in The Independent:
Most people in the West would be surprised by the answer to the question: who are the most persecuted people in the world? According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular group with members in 38 states worldwide, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. (The Independent, Christians: The world's most persecuted people, 27 July 2014)
This means that, even today in the modern world, following Jesus is still an unpopular choice. Jesus never said following him would be easy. In fact, these are his words:
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
Christians can and must stand up against persecution. We must condemn acts of religious discrimination against fellow Christians, and we must support and defend our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted. We must stand up for justice and demand fair treatment. But we also must follow the example of Jesus. This means that we must oppose violence and hatred with peace and love. Most importantly, we must remain faithful to Jesus no matter what. They key to our religion is an unconditional "Yes" to following our Master wherever he leads us, even when we must join him on the cross. The greatest tragedy is not persecution, confiscation of goods, even the loss of our lives. The greatest tragedy for a Christian is to succumb to the pressure and deny our master.
Please join me in praying for persecuted Christians around the world. We pray that they may remain faithful to Christ and be able to answer violence and hatred with peace and love. Beginning tomorrow, August 14th, the feast of St. Maximillian Kolbe, I will be praying a novena for persecuted Christians. It will end on August 22, the Queenship of Mary. May the Queen of Heaven give us victory in every struggle.
Solemn Novena to Our Lady of Victory
Lord, have mercy on us, Christ, have mercy on us, Christ, hear us, Christ, graciously hear us. God, the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us. God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us. God, the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us. Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.
The response to the following greetings is Pray for us. Our Lady of Victory, Victorious daughter of the Father, Victorious Mother of the Son, Victorious Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Victorious servant of the Holy Trinity Victorious in your Immaculate Conception, Victorious in crushing the serpent’s head, Victorious over all the children of Adam, Victorious over all enemies, Victorious in your response to the Angel Gabriel, Victorious in your wedding to St. Joseph, Victorious in the birth of Christ, Victorious in the flight to Egypt, Victorious in your exile, Victorious in your home at Nazareth, Victorious in finding Christ in the temple, Victorious in the mission of your Son, Victorious in His passion and death, Victorious in His Resurrection and Ascension, Victorious in the Coming of the Holy Spirit, Victorious in your sorrows and joys, Victorious in your glorious Assumption, Victorious in the angels who remained faithful, Victorious in the happiness of the saints, Victorious in the message of the prophets, Victorious in the testimony of the patriarchs, Victorious in the zeal of the apostles, Victorious in the witness of the evangelists, Victorious in the wisdom of the doctors, Victorious in the deeds of the confessors, Victorious in the triumph of all holy women, Victorious in the faithfulness of the martyrs, Victorious in your powerful intercession, Victorious under your many titles, Victorious at the moment of death,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Spare us, Lord. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Hear us, Lord. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy, Lord. Pray for us, blessed Lady of Victory. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
The Novena Prayer
Let us pray:
Our Lady of Victory, we have unshaken confidence in your influence with your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Humbly we ask your intercession for all of us associated under your title, Our Lady of Victory. We beg your powerful assistance also for our own personal needs. your special intention in your own words In your maternal kindness please ask Jesus to forgive all our sins and failings, and to secure His blessings for us and for all the works of charity dedicated to your name. We implore you to obtain for us the grace of sharing Christ’s victory and your forever in the life that knows no ending. May we join you ther to praise forever the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, on God, for all the ages to come. Amen.
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To Thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine evyes of mercy toward us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of Thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection, implored Thy help, and sought Thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto Thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To Thee I come; before Thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate! despise not my petitions, but in Thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
All this we ask of The Father in the name of Mary’s Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with Him and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer to Our Lady of Victory
O Victorious Lady! Thou who has ever such powerful influence with Thy Divine Son, in conquering the hardest of hearts, intercede for those for whom we pray, that their hearts being softened by the rays of Divine Grace, they may return to the unity of the true Faith, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.