The memory of the holy martyrs exalts the glory of Christ before the world. A blogger priest posted his thoughts urging the faithful not to forget the martyrs canonised during the Jubilee of 2000. In parallel, the authorities took down a statue dedicated to one of those martyrs, erected in front of a church in Yongnian (Hebei). The priest’s online post was also removed.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - "The Church in China must remember and exalt its Chinese saints," wrote Shanren, a priest, on his blog to all his faithful and fellow countrymen so that the Chinese Church might follow the example of its martyrs who, as simple and loyal people without superior gifts, "sacrificed their lives for the faith" and "glorified Jesus Christ" before the world.
Among the saints to remember, Fr Shanren did not forget the 120 Chinese martyrs, canonised by John Paul II in 2000, an action that the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association has always attacked as "colonialist interference" by the Holy See, but above all because the devotion to the martyrs was bringing closer together in the shared faith official and underground Catholics.
Fr Shanren’s thoughts, posted on the feast day of Our Lady of Sheshan (24 May, Mary help of Christians), was topical. On 3 May, the statue (pictured) of one of the martyrs canonised in 2000, John Wu Wenyin, was unveiled in the parish of Yongnian, diocese of Handan (Hebei). He was tortured and killed during the Boxer Rebellion. However, a few days later local authorities ordered the statue’s removal. Fr Shanren’s post was also blocked after a day.
In the New Testament, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews declares with great pride: “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) This is a glorious proclamation by the author of the Hebrews with the testimonies of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets.
For those witnesses of faith, the author of Hebrews exclaimed: “(They) conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises; they closed the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped the devouring sword; out of weakness they were made powerful, became strong in battle, and turned back foreign invaders. Women received back their dead through resurrection. Some were tortured and would not accept deliverance, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others endured mockery, scourging, even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword’s point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, and tormented. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and on mountains, in caves and in crevices in the earth. Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:33-40)
Christian faith is so true and solid. One of the main reasons for it is that under His Cross surrounds the believers incessantly eager to live for faith, and saints ready to die for faith, from ancient times to the modern world, and from the beginning until the end. Many of them merely have a simple appearance of believers in front of the Cross. Their faith in the Lord on the Cross has transformed them to be courageous, steadfast and strong, and would die before surrender.
Therefore, the author of the Hebrews encouraged the Hebrew faithful: "Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” (Hebrews 12:3-4)
Since the Catholicism was introduced to China and subsequently in all phases of history, there were faithful who sacrificed themselves for faith. They had no extra limbs, like “three heads and six arms”, and certainly not steel or iron-made superman. They were not even sages or wise people. Being ordinary, timid, self-centered, coward is of human nature. However, because of their faith, they had not surrendered when they faced persecutions or threats, and they would never betray the Lord. They were forced to exile and even kept behind bars. They resisted all kinds of temptations even in fears and apprehensions, because they believed in the Lord Jesus’ great promise.
In the Jubilee of the Millennium, Saint Pope John Paul II canonized 120 saints of the Chinese Church. Among the 120 Chinese Saints, there were bishops, priests, seminarians, sisters, but more of them were laypeople, of whom the youngest was only a teenager. They have made the best testimony to the Christian faith in the land of China. The Church has rewarded them with the exemplary role of our faith!
The Korean Church has a pilgrimage site to commemorate beheaded believers; and the Church in Japan has a monument for the martyrs in Nagasaki. The martyrs commemorated by these two Churches were indeed the believers who sacrificed their lives for the faith. The martyr-saints should be exalted and glorified because "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the new Catholics”. Only when the saints of their own Churches are not forgotten, the local Churches will then be flourished. Because the holy name of Jesus is exalted, as the saints are glorified in front of the world!
Today is the Feast Day of Mary Help of Christians. The universal Church, the saints in Heaven are praying especially for the Church in China on this day. Let us remember the saints in China and exalted the Chinese saints! Now let us entrust our prayers to them for their intercessions for the Church in China!