We are called Easter People and Eighth Day People. This is because Christ rose from the dead on Easter Sunday…the eighth day. The Easter Liturgy is so central to our faith that each Sunday and each Mass recalls the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I recently had a conversation with a priest who lives and works in a place where Sunday Mass is offered every day of the week. The parishioners cannot come to Mass on Sundays because their bosses and very low wages don’t allow that freedom. In fact, to openly tell people that you attend Catholic Mass will put your life at risk.
The Holy priest said that during April, he celebrated Easter Liturgy twenty two times…almost every day of the month. So important was Easter Mass to the people April essentially became a month of Easter Sundays. As he wanted each liturgy to be as like Easter Sunday as possible, the priest prepared a different homily for each congregation so each group would hear a message particular to their place and situation. His name and location are not being revealed to protect the safety of the people involved.
In 2012, over 100 thousand Christians were killed for their faith. Some made headlines, but most if not almost all of these killings went unreported in the major media outlets. So the next time you hear the priest or deacon say, “The Gospel of the Lord,” be sure to say a prayer for those who cannot hear those words every day. And when you respond, “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ,” say it knowing that those words are special…especially for those who have to say them in hiding.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Nigeria is the 7th most populous country in the world and home to some 21 million Catholics. In recent years, growing corruption and religious violence have distressed this West African nation. In a recent visit to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto voiced their concerns of this descent into disorder. With an economy of over $244 billion and recipients of generous international aid, little help reaches the poorest and most in need. Where government has been unable to or unwilling to serve the people, the Catholic Church, whenever possible, has filled the void. Illustrating the vital role of the Church in the life and well-being of the nation is the fact that the area of Sokoto, where the Catholic population is smallest is also the poorest and most violence ridden.
Nevertheless, the Church remains, serves and suffers with the people through the many attacks and problems and offers hope.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Speaking from India, journalist Anto Akkara told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that, while the state government had officially dissolved the camps for Christians who fled mob violence in Orissa last August, there are still about 1,000 Christians living in tents. At their height the displacement camps housed 50,000 refugees, many of who have gone back to their villages.
Akkara said that most of the Christians who have not returned are living in the slums of Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Orissa, east India, fearing the government will not be able to protect them should violence erupt again. His remarks follow the US Commission on International Religious Freedom’s decision earlier this month to put India on its “Watch List” for “the government’s largely inadequate response in protecting its religious minorities.”
ACN provided initial emergency relief for those in the camps, temporary tent chapels where Mass could be said, and has promised help to Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar to rebuild churches and other buildings destroyed in the violence. During the anti-Christian pogroms of last August, more than 70 people were killed, 5,031 homes were attacked, and 171 churches targeted.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )