Liturgical Colour : White
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great event and a great day of prayer and asking for supplication, that is for the suffering that our brethren in faith suffers even this very moment, as they had for the past decades, of the great persecution and hostility against the faith and the faithful in China. Today is the day of universal prayer, when we, as one Church of God, pray as one for the deliverance of our brethren who are daily persecuted just because they remain faithful and true to the fullness of the truth that God has revealed and kept within His Church.
Today we also commemorate, perhaps very appropriately, the feast of our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary in her aspect as the Help of Christians, as the hope for all mankind who are in the darkness of this world and under the dominion of Satan, for Mary, as the mother of Jesus our Lord and Saviour, is the vessel through whom the Lord worked His great graces and power, that led to our salvation in Jesus.
Today also we celebrate the feast of our Lady of Sheshan, who is the representation of Mary the Help of Christians, the patroness of the Basilica at Sheshan near Shanghai in China, which was famous both in China and around the world, and one of the lasting symbol of the perseverance of the faithful throughout the many decades of persecutions against the faith and the faithful ones of God.
Today’s celebration and prayerful devotion is a vivid and strong reminder to all of us, that in our world today, despite it being generally easier for us to live in the world, with all the amenities and goodness and improvements in the living quality and standards, especially for those who live in the developed countries, not everything is always good for us. Persecution against the faithful is real, even in this day, and we should never think that persecution is only a thing in the past or during the Roman times.
These days, being a faithful person is getting ever more difficult, especially because there are more and more oppositions against the faith and as mankind grew in their power and achievements, they also grew in pride, and loathed having to be ‘ordered’ around by someone whom they deem to be inexistent in their faulty and lacking sense of understanding. Mankind grew in their opposition and resistance to the love of God and His ways, preferring to follow their own ways.
That is precisely the condition of the Church besieged around the world, from the West and the developed world in general where the faith is under serious attacks from the so-called secularism and relativism, especially in terms of moral and scientific relativism, which undermined the teachings of the Church on the faith in the hearts and minds of many among the faithful, leading them to fall into corruption and trap of the evil one. Mankind misused the wisdom and intellect given to them to serve their own purposes, and this even lead to them doubting about God and thinking that He is not present, using their scientific discoveries to try and proof that in vain.
Then, there are also many oppositions and persecutions by those affected by the heresies of the faith, and by those whose eyes had been clouded by the devil and therefore unable to comprehend the truth of the Lord, which He had revealed through Jesus, and from Him, through the Church and its teachings. These persecutions occur throughout the world, and many of our brethren suffer from it. Daily, there are new persecutions everywhere in the world, that even new martyrs arise every single day.
And we come to the main point of importance for this day, that is the persecution of our brethren in faith in China, and to a lesser extent, the persecution of the faithful and mankind in general, in other Communist and authoritarian states, most notorious being the state of North Korea, which continuously and without regards to human rights and nature, punish and torture countless peoples for opposing their authorities and out of fear of losing their absolute control and power over the people.
Let me give a brief history and explanation of how the Church in China came into this sad and unfortunate state of affairs. The faith was brought to China by many missionaries of the faith centuries ago, who persevered through oppositions and persecutions. The faith grew very rapidly and soon millions of the faithful came forth in that country with the oldest civilisation in the world. They managed to reconcile their faith with their culture and all the differences between them.
As the Chinese monarchy and Empire crumbled and replaced by republican governments just over a century ago, and the people and the faith went through a difficult time, and wars and conflicts were commonplace in those turbulent years, culminating in a deadly and devastating war, between China and Japan that took the lives of millions. And yet, during those difficult times, the faith continued to grow rapidly.
But the devil certainly did not rest and he worked hard to undermine the successes that we had achieved. The Communists that first spread from Russia and then into China, brought great ruin and suffering for the faithful. They followed the godless, atheistic and anarchic teachings and ideologies of Karl Marx, or Marxism, who argued that religion is the opium of the masses that is the people, because to him religion gave people false hope. This shows how mistaken Karl Marx was and how ignorant he was in the faith, the one true and only faith.
Yet, people took the idea seriously, and as Marxist ideas propagate by rising along the line of class divide and class warfare, gaining the support of the poor supermajority, Communism became very popular and brought about great trouble for the faithful, in many parts of the world. And although persecution of this nature had ended with the inevitable fall of many Communist regimes around the world just around two decades ago, but in countries like China and North Korea, persecution continues right until today.
In China, the advent of the Communist power in there spelt trouble for the faithful and for the Church, when in 1949, the Communists won the power struggle for the ultimate power and control in China, and persecution had continued ever since in various ways and methods. For more than six decades, the faithful had been subjected to varying degrees of persecution, be it openly or subtly, and many martyr were born out of this great persecution.
The Communist and atheist government tried to control the Church by creating their own ‘official church’ which they controlled with absolute power and tyranny to partially give a facade that the government tolerated freedom of religion and faith, but in fact, until today, is greatly fearful and opposed to the Church and to the faith, rightly so because they built their authorities on the power of the devil, and with the faith, the devil shall fall, and so will those who depend on his power.
They forced the faithful to go through forced labour and intense concentration camps, through various tortures and punishments, and yet they failed miserably, as the faith will only grow ever stronger with persecutions, and they will not succeed. They acted in desperation for they fear of losing their power, but the Holy Spirit will certain not remain silent. As He had done before, He will come and then transform this world anew, and yes, transform China anew!
Brothers and sisters, let us all pray, and pray hard for the deliverance of our brethren in faith, who are persecuted and discriminated daily for their perseverance to remain faithful to the truth in the Lord. We are in this sense, very fortunate that we have such freedom to practice our faith, but again, we have to be ever vigilant, that we do not fall into the trap and temptations of Satan. Let us pray for the many missionaries who work in spreading the Good News, be it openly or clandestinely in the country of China and North Korea, and many other parts of the world that are still in darkness.
May our Lord, together with His blessed mother Mary, the help of all Christians, protect and help all those who suffer for His sake, and those who keep alive faithfully their faith and devotion to Him. May they all be safe and be blessed day after day, and may we also be inspired by their perseverance and dedication to Your Most Holy Name. Lord, bless China and her people, and may Your Name be known throughout that country, that the whole people may know You and turn to You as their Lord and Saviour. Amen!