Minority Christians. That Christians who are in minority situations may have strength and courage to live their faith and persevere in bearing witness to it.
It's hard not to notice the waning of majority Christian culture in the United States. We are still predominantly a Christian nation, but non-Christian voices are also among us. Sometimes these voices are polite and reasonable, sometimes harsh and unfair. As Christians, we are understandably saddened when the larger culture rejects our ways. Yet we are thankful to live in a land where people are free to worship (or not worship) as they please.
Our own experience, perhaps, makes it easier for us to imagine what it must be like to be a Christian in a culture that is not Christian. Some minority Christians are free to practice their religion, thank God, even in cultures dominated by other religions.
Other minority Christians are persecuted. They cannot always speak up in political debates. They may not be permitted to vote their consciences. The U.S. State Department has reported that little religious freedom currently exists in Burma, China, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, and Vietnam. Yet we know that many Christians live in each.
In some places, like the Holy Land and Iraq, the situation is becoming so violent and hopeless that many Christians are leaving. The birthplace of Christianity may become a place without Christians.
So we pray with all our hearts for minority Christians. May they be strong and joyful in the Lord. May they be allowed to live their faith and persevere in bearing witness to it.
Can you remember a situation in which you were a minority Christian? How might others have treated you more charitably in that situation?
Luke 21:12-19 — "…they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons….You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends…By your perseverance you will secure your lives."
World Missionary Day. That World Missionary Day may kindle a greater missionary awareness in every baptized person.
Sunday, October 21, is World Missionary Day. In a special message on the occasion, Pope Benedict calls continuing evangelization the universal mission of the Church, something we "cannot escape."
The Holy Father says that every faithful person must respond to the mission's appeal and not see it just as a task for specialists. "All Christian communities are born missionary." We are each "collaborator" and "protagonist" in the new evangelization of the world.
Being baptized, we become disciples of Jesus Christ, adopted children of God, dead to our former lives of sin, alive in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have become Christ's witnesses to the world, charged to speak of the things that God has done for us.
The Pope ends his message praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary to "make us aware that we are all missionaries, called by the Lord to be his witnesses in every moment of our lives."
The Holy Father's call to each of us to be a missionary may inspire us or burden us. Let's take this opportunity to look within ourselves to connect strongly with Jesus there. By seeking Jesus within, we will find the love and the power to speak of him to others. By uniting with Jesus, we become aware of the desire of his heart to draw all people into the Love which is God. We are not called to empty words and cold actions. We are called to speak and act out of our close friendship with Jesus, our Savior and Master.
As a Christian, how is your own faith indebted to missionary activity past and present?
Romans 9:25-29 — "As indeed he says in Hosea: ‘…in the very place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," there they shall be called children of the living God.'"
Daily Offering Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
Prayer of the Month
O St. Therese of the Child Jesus, we fly to you with heartfelt affection. We ask you to place under your special protection those who travel far to declare the Good News.
In your earthly life you followed these heroic souls with special love. Now that you are in heaven and see Jesus face to face, please pray for them. May missionaries bring many souls to Jesus, redeeming them by his precious blood. Sustain them in their many labors. Comfort them in their sorrows. And offer your fervent prayers to God for the salvation of those who hear their words.
O glorious St. Therese, heavenly patroness of the missions, co-patroness of the Apostleship of Prayer, hear and answer us. Amen.