Thursday, September 26, 2013

Prayers for Persecuted Christians

Following the plea made yesterday of His Holiness Pope Francis for Christians to pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world, I thought it might be helpful to post a few prayers that you can pray either alone or with your family and friends.

The Mass for Persecuted Christians

The liturgical texts of the Church are always a good place to begin when looking for prayers.  The Roman Missal provides the following prayers:

O God, who in your inscrutable providence
will that the Church  to the sufferings of your Son
grant, we pray, to your faithful who suffer for your name's sake
a spirit of patience and charity,
that they may be found true and faithful witnesses
to the promises you have made.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

Prayer Over the Offerings

Receive, we ask, O God,
the prayers and sacrificial gifts we offer in humility
and grant that those who suffer persecution
for their faithful service to you
may rejoice to be united to the sacrifice of Christ your Son
and may know that their names are written in heaven
among the company of the elect.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer After Communion

By the power of this Sacrament, O Lord,
confirm your servants in the truth
and grant to your faithful who suffer tribulation
that, as they follow your Son in bearing their cross,
they may, in every trial, glory in the name of Christian.
Through Christ our Lord.
Talk with your priest about your concern for the persecuted Church and about your desire to prayer for them.  Ask him to offer this Mass with some frequency.

A Prayer for Persecuted Christians

The branch of the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need in the United Kingdom provides the following prayer:
Father in Heaven, you make your sun shine
on good and bad alike.
Your Son Jesus Christ died for us all
and in his glorious Resurrection
He still retains the five wounds of his Passion.
With his divine power he now sustains
all those who suffer persecution and martyrdom
for the sake of their fidelity
to the faith of the Church.
Merciful and mighty Father,
do not allow Cain to return again to murder
helpless Abel, innocent Abel.
May persecuted Christians around the world
remain, like Mary, their Mother,
together at the foot of the cross
of Christ the Martyr.
Comfort those menaced by violence
and those oppressed by uncertainty.
May your Holy Spirit of love
make fruitful the witness and the blood
of those who die forgiving.
A Papal Prayer Intention

Pope Francis' missionary prayer intention for the month of September 2013, to which we should all join our prayers, is as follows:
That Christians suffering persecution in many parts of the world may, by their witness, be prophets of Christ's love.
Though the month of September is nearly complete, we could certainly continue to hold this intention in our heats, especially as we pray the Rosary and pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

A Prayer for One's Enemies

One of the prayers of Saint Thomas More will be especially helpful for those who are themselves persecuted for the name of Jesus Christ:
Almighty God,
have mercy on N
and on all that bear me evil will and would me harm,
and on their faults and mine together,
by such easy, tender, merciful means,
as thine infinite wisdom best can devise;
vouchsafe to amend and redress
and make us saved souls together in heaven,
where we may ever live and love together
with thee and thy blessed saints, O glorious Trinity,
for the bitter passion of our sweet Savior Christ.
A Difficult Search

Finding prayers specifically for persecuted Christians and for their persecutors has proven - rather surprisingly - difficult.  I have intentionally not provided prayers for specific regions or countries where persecution occurs, nor have I provided prayers simply for peace in general terms.

Are you aware of other prayer for the persecuted and their oppressors?  If so, would you kindly provide a link to the prayer or the text of the prayer and the person from whom it comes?  Thanks!

A Suggestion

Because we are often forgetful and become too easily absorbed in our own affairs, it might be helpful to print out the Holy Father's question and put it somewhere you will be certain to see it each day: on the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror, the dining room table, the dashboard of your car, your desk at work, in your daily prayer book, etc. (you could do the same with one or more of the above prayers). In doing so, you will be continually called to prayer.

Now, lest we forget, Pope Francis' question:
How many of you pray for Christians who are persecuted? Ask yourselves, do I pray for that brother or sister who’s in difficulty for confessing their faith?

Lao Christians must renounce their faith or face expulsion

The Fides news agency is reporting that Christians in Laos are being required to either renounce their faith in Christ or be expelled despite the freedom of religious liberty granted by the Lao Constitution:
The civil authorities of the district of Atsaphangthong, in the province of Savannakhet, have determined that the Christian Lao citizens in the various villages in the district, must renounce their faith, otherwise they risk expulsion from the district. As Fides learns, the measure was enacted given the growing number of conversions to Christianity in several villages. The decision was announced on 21 September, during an official meeting of members of the civil authorities with the population of the village of Huay [more].

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vietnamese government plans to confiscate Church property

Asia News reports that the Vietnamese government is planning to confiscate land in Hanoi belonging to the Redemptorists:
Hanoi authorities have opened a new battle front with Catholics with an expropriation order issued by the Department for Urbanism and lease of land owned by the Redemptorists of Thai Ha parish, near lake Ba Giang.  The priests, religious and faithful say the measure is "illegal" and constitutes a "violation" of the rights of the Christian community, as explained in a letter published in recent days by the superior Fr . Matthew Vu Khoi Phun.
 The land desired by the government has belonged to the Redemptorists since 1928.

At least 85 killed by two Islamic suicide bombers in Pakistan

Two Islamic suicide bombers outside All Saints Church, an Anglican community, killed at least 85 people and wounded 150 others in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Sunday, September 22nd:
Police said two suicide bombers, each wearing more than 13 pounds of explosives, detonated themselves following a Sunday service as 600 members of the Protestant church gathered on the church lawn for food distribution.

Jundallah, a group linked to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in response to U.S. drone strikes, the latest of which Sept. 22 reportedly killed seven people in the tribal area of North Waziristan.

"Until and unless the drone strikes are stopped, we will continue to strike wherever we find an opportunity against non-Muslims," said a Jundallah spokesman [more].
It is possible that number of deceased may reach or exceed 100, according to a report from Aid to the Church in Need, which also provides some additional background:
The explosions struck the church in the Kohati Gate area of Peshawar, just after the morning Communion service had ended.
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (formerly called the North-West Frontier Province), where Islamist extremist groups have a number of strongholds.
Militant group, Tahrik-e-Taliban Jandullah, claimed to have carried out the bombing in retaliation for U.S. drone strikes.
But a statement by Pakistan’s main Taliban group, Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, made it clear that they took no responsibility the church attack [more].
The New York Times discusses Sunday's attack in relation to other attacks which have been occurring in Pakistan where Christians comprise less than 3% of the total population.