First of all I would like to give a big THANK YOU to the members of the Parish Council and the Knights of Columbus and to all who worked so hard to make the Parish/ School Picnic on Saturday, September 7 such a FUN time. Everyone who was there really enjoyed it. It was a relaxing, easy-going, fun event; just right for marking the end of Summer. It was great to see so many parishioners just hanging out and enjoying each other’s presence. The objective of the picnic was to strengthen our sense of community as a parish, and in my book it succeeded admirably. THANKS!
This week brings us the celebration of several Saints who were martyred. On Monday we remember Saints Cornelius, an early Pope, and St. Cyprian, a North African Bishop. They were martyred during the persecution of the Roman Emperor Decian. Cornelius died in 253 and Cyprian in 258. Not only did they have to face persecution from the pagans, but they were both vexed by the controversy in the church over what to do with the Christians who had lapsed during the persecution and now wanted back in the church. Cornelius and Cyprian had some differences with each other over this, but basically they both supported a middle position that allowed lapsed Christians to return to the faith.
On Thursday we remember St. Januarius, who was Bishop of Naples. He was martyred in the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian between the years 300 to 305 A.D. We don’t know how he died. One legend is that he was thrown to wild bears in the amphitheater; another legend is that he was beheaded. In any case he is still very much revered in Naples. The local legend is that his blood, which is kept in a sealed vial, liquefies on his feast day. It is the cause of celebration in Naples each year.
On Friday we celebrate the feast of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, priest, Paul Chon Ha-sang, and companions, all martyred in Korea. There were 98 Koreans and three French missionaries who were martyred between 1839 and 1867. Among them were bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay persons: 47 women, 45 men. Collectively they are known as the Korean Martyrs.
And on Saturday we celebrate the Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist. By tradition he is also accounted a Martyr, though there is no historical proof of this.
So this week we are reminded of martyrs from the earliest Christian times (St. Matthew), to the turbulent early years of Christianity (Cyprian, Cornelius and Januarius), and well up into historical times with the Korean martyrs. In every age and culture there has been opposition to the Christian message, and often this opposition has turned violent. In our own day, right now in many places around the earth, Christians suffer for their faith. Most prominently we see the Coptic Christians suffering in Egypt and the Syrian Christians also caught in the middle.
As we remember the Saints on the calendar, let us especially keep in our prayers all those around the world who today suffer for their Christian faith. Pray that they will be triumphant like the Saints whose feast days we celebrate, and that their heroic witness will convert their persecutors and bring peace to the Church and to their countries.