“…The Apostles create seven deacons, and among the seven “deacons”, Stephen and Philip in distinguish themselves in particular. Stephen evangelizes with strength and parrhesia, but his word encounters the most obstinate resistance. As they find no other way of making him desist, what do his adversaries do?
…Stephen is condemned to death, condemned to stoning. But he manifests the true “fabric” of the disciple of Christ. He does not seek loopholes, he does not appeal to people who can save him, but rather places his life back into the hands of the Lord, and Stephen’s prayer is beautiful at that moment: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7: 59) – and he dies as a son of God, forgiving: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7: 60).
These words of Stephen teach us that it is not beautiful speeches that reveal our identity as children of God, but rather that the abandonment of one’s life in the hands of the Father and forgiveness for those who offend us make us see the quality of our faith.
Today there are more martyrs than at the beginning of the Church’s life, and martyrs are everywhere. Today’s Church is rich in martyrs, it is irrigated by their blood which is “the seed of new Christians” (Tertullian, Apologetic, 50,13) and ensures growth and fruitfulness for the People of God. The martyrs are not “holy men”, but men and women in flesh and blood who – as the Revelation says – “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7: 14). They are the true winners.
Let us also ask the Lord that, looking at the martyrs of yesterday and today, we can learn to live a full life, welcoming the martyrdom of daily fidelity to the Gospel and conformation to Christ.”
Full version; The General Audience concluded with the recitation of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.
There are over 200 episodes of violence against Christians reported in India in 2019: this is the data sent to Agenzia Fides by the NGO “Alliance Defending Freedom” (ADF) based in New Delhi. In a report by the organization, 218 incidents of various kinds occurred in 243 days in 2019. Of these, 159 were episodes of mass violence, about 27 such incidents every month, claimed ADF-India,
The incidents were reported to the United Christian Forum (UCF) toll-free number, notes ADF-India, which is committed to providing free legal assistance to the victims.
The note sent to Fides states: “The modus operandi followed in the 159 cases of mass violence is the same. A crowd accompanied by the police arrives to disturb a prayer celebration, shouts slogans and hits members of the assembly of the faithful, including women and children. Then the Pastors who lead the liturgy are arrested or detained by the police with the false accusation of forced conversions”, says A.C.
The State Patriotic Association of Catholics has ordered the dioceses to hold ceremonies to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. All the official churches are asked to sing the national anthem, to practice the flag raising ceremony, to pray for the homeland. All these activities must be documented and sent to the headquarters of the National Patriotic Association. Yesterday in many parishes the mass began with the singing of the national anthem.
Even the official Protestant churches have artistic events and performances inspired by patriotism and communism. In these circumstances it is also important to celebrate sinicization. All these events are usually attended by members of the United Front, which oversees religion activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.
All the religious groups present in the country recognized by the government, including the Islamic Association of China and the Buddhist one, have put together events related to the 70 years of the People’s Republic of China. At the same time, police surveillance of house churches (unofficial) and their members has been stepped up.