Today we remember and celebrate martyrs in China that most of us don’t know much about. St. Augustine Zhao Rong was a soldier, not a Christian, when he escorted a missionary bishop from France, St. John Dufresse to his martyrdom. Augustine was so impressed by his witness he himself was soon baptized and became a priest - then captured, tortured and killed for the faith in 1815. With them we celebrate 120 named and many thousands unknown Martyrs for Christ over 4 centuries of persecution in China that still continues to this day. In 1900 the Boxer Rebellion, a brutal complicated international conflict in China took special aim at Christians and at least 40,000 Christians, mostly Catholics were killed.
Today’s 1st reading caused me to wonder: “Are we relying too much on man and science right now…given our current situation?”
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“My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hands on her, and she will live.” Matthew 9:18 In 1902, a child was martyred, Maria Goretti, not yet 12 years old. She was canonized in Rome in 1950 before the biggest crowd to witness a canonization up to that time. Her mother and her murderer were in attendance.
Do you know what a bearing wall is? St. Paul did. He described it in the Letter to the Ephesians. Christ is our bearing wall, a wall that bears the weight of a house from top to bottom.
Today we commemorate the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church. We venerate and ask the intercession of this small but significant group of converts to the faith. Thankfully, most of us will not become martyrs, however, this doesn’t mean that we’re not called to live out our faith courageously.
“If you cannot preach like Peter, if you cannot pray like Paul, you can tell the Love of Jesus and say he died for all.” That is the second stanza of one of my favorite hymns, There is a Balm in Gilead.