COME TO MASS ON WEDNESDAY 27 NOVEMBER AT ST OSMUND'S 19:00 FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT.
RED WEDNESDAY - SUPPORTING THE PERSECUTED CHURCH - 27.11.2019
Our ‘Year of Prayer’ intention for November is for the persecuted church across the world. Are you aware that persecution of Christians is worsening in South & East Asia? That persecution of Christians in core Middle Eastern countries means that it may now be too late for some Middle East Christian communities to recover? That from Nigeria in West to Madagascar in the east, Christians in Africa are threatened by Islamists seeking to eliminate the Church - either by force or by dishonest means such as bribery? That around the world, Christians are a favoured target for violent militant extremists who operate without boundaries and who perceive local Christians as a legitimate alternative to a direct strike on the West?
The Catholic Charity, Aid to the Church in Need are asking for our support on Red Wednesday. The idea is that we attend a Mass ‘in place of/for’ those who cannot. We will be holding a special Mass in St Osmund’s Church on this day at 19:00 to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.
We will also be serving tea, coffee and nibbles afterwards in the Parish Rooms and you will have the opportunity to buy Christian Christmas Cards in support of the ACN and their work with the suffering Church around the world.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
For those suffering because of their Christian faith, that the Holy Spirit may fortify them with the courage to remain strong in faith, as well as with the charity to forgive their persecutors, we pray to the Lord.
For your faithful who suffer for your name’s sake, that you would grant them a spirit of patience and charity, that they may be found true and faithful witnesses to the promises you have made, we pray to the Lord.
For those who suffer persecution for their faithful service to you, that they may rejoice to be united to the sacrifice of Christ your Son and may know that their names are written in heaven among the company of the elect, we pray to the Lord.
For those who follow your Son in bearing their cross, that they may, in every trial, glory in the name of Christian, we pray to the Lord.
Pray that whatever their circumstances, God will give persecuted Christians the right words.
"Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak".
Pray that persecuted Christians will understand and find peace in the sufficiency of God’s grace, even in their weaknesses.
While facing physical threat, especially, Christians may be put into scenarios where they must make instantaneous choices under great pressure. For this reason, we pray for the persecuted church to understand the promises of:
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong".
Pray that Christians facing hardship will draw from a source of power larger than themselves.
Christians facing persecution often have very little control over their lives, including their own safety and health. They often battle against government accusers that do not provide them the right to a fair trial or representation. Because of this, it’s critical to pray that believers in trying circumstances are able to see, like St Paul, that their hardship helps them rely on a God who is far more powerful than them.
2 Corinthians 1:7-10
"Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.
We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again".
Pray God would be present with persecuted Christians in their hardship, protecting them according to His will.
Jesus Himself faced an unjust trial.
And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want”.
The first part of his prayer inspires us to ask God to deliver persecuted Christians from harm. Part of our prayer can be that God will deliver Christians from chains, as he did for St Peter in Acts 12. But we also pray that if God does not see fit to supernaturally intervene in such a way, that we will interceed to strengthen these believers no matter the outcome.
Pray their witness would inspire those who seek to harm them.
Love for Enemies
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you".
When Christians are able to maintain perspective like this, their actions are often noticed by those who persecute them. In the case of Paul and Silas, in Acts 16:25, their behavior—praying and singing and praise in the face of hardship—were observed by both their jailers and other prisoners. In acting out of faith despite their circumstances, they were able to share the gospel with their captors in an opportune moment, and the jailer and his family came to believe, as well (Acts 16:34).
O Lord God,
Your Son Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His resurrection He restores life and peace in all creation.
Comfort, we pray, all victims of intolerance and those oppressed by their fellow humans.
Remember in Your Kingdom those who have died.
Lead the oppressors towards compassion and give hope to the suffering.
Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
You have warned us through your Son Jesus Christ that those who follow Him may be oppressed and abused because of their faith.
We ask that you comfort and give courage to all your children who fall victims to unjust imprisonment, physical harm and intimidation at the hands of their oppressors.
For those who have given their lives in the fight for freedom to openly share and live out their faith, may they be welcomed into your warm embrace.
Please protect our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their faith, especially those who are active in sharing the gospel.
Let your peace reign on those regions where your children are not permitted the freedom to live out their faith in safety.
And watch over and encourage those who work to support oppressed believers on the ground, risking their own lives to do so.