Dear Readers: I wanted to share with you a snippet from my continuing faith journey, as events in the Middle East unfold. My son has a delightful friend, with whom he had a playdate today. We went over to his friend’s home, and his mother treated the boys to an assortment of fruits and me to a cup of specially prepared tea. Being the historian and geographer that I am, when I am over to their house, I often ask after the situation in the country from which this friend’s family hails (in the area of the highly volatile Middle East).
On our last visit to this family, the mother asked me about being a Christian — as well as the differences between Catholics and Protestants. I told her what I knew, blessing the fact that I had completed the RCIA instruction last year so I could answer with some details. Today, she was excitedly about a book she is reading: Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young. She seemed happy to have someone to confide in, telling me about the joy of reading the Bible and how this differed significantly about how she felt when reading the Koran (which didn’t really appeal to her at all). The children also identify themselves as Christian.
Needless to say, she is unsure of how much farther to go forward — as we both knew many Muslims in the land from which she hails would be quick to punish anyone declared an apostate who left Islam. She and her family return back to the homeland occasionally. We discussed the sacrament of baptism, and a little about my son’s baptism last year. She is uncertain how to proceed, but continued prayer and learning seemed the best advice to give. She is contemplating several faith options at this point.
It is difficult to know what to say to someone you care about when Baptism by Blood seems like a genuine possibility.
Baptism of blood signifies martyrdom of an unbaptised person, that is, the patient bearing of a violent death or of an assault which of its nature leads to death, by reason of one’s confession of the Christian faith, or one’s practice of Christian virtue.
Jesus Himself attests the justifying power of martyrdom. Mt. to, 32: “Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in Heaven.” Mt. 10 39 (16, 25): ” He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for me shall find it.” John 11 12, 25: ” He that hateth his life in this world keepeth it unto life eternal.”
So, if you have advice to give, please feel free. During the conversation, I shared a little bit about a near-miraculous experience I had last week, and how much I had come to appreciate the guiding love of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life. For example, the friend’s mother really enjoyed about the near-instant intersession of St. Anthony of Padua on my future writing career.
A friend of mine also wrote today of a Christian killed recently, after he challenged Pakistan’s blasphemy laws: And speaking of freedom…
Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistan government’s only Christian minister (he was Roman Catholic) was assassinated while on his way to work in Islamabad on Wednesday. Bhatti was in the process of pushing for the reform of harsh blasphemy laws that impose the death penalty for insulting Islam.
To highlight the fact that persecutions of Christians could occur anywhere, even in a deeply Catholic country, I told her a story about the Mexican persecution of Catholics in the 1920’s, which I discovered only recently. This comes from a short biography of Saint José María Robles Hurtado:
Persecution of Catholics throughout Mexico, known as the Cristeros Era, lasted roughly from 1917 to 1937. The name Cristeros, derived from the Spanish Cristo Rey, Christ the King, refers to Anti-Government Rebel Fighters, including hundreds of Knights of Columbus.
“¡Viva Cristo Rey!” – “Long Live Christ the King” -, and “¡Viva Cristo Rey y Santa María de Guadalupe!” – “Long Live Christ the King and Holy Mary of Guadalupe” – were the last words of many Cristeros, Catholics and martyred Priests and Knights. Emulating Christ on the Cross, they would open their arms wide and yell out these words with their last breath. Photographs of these Martyrs were cherished as holy cards. Some were reprinted in Columbia Magazine during the Order’s extensive Campaign of Education about the Persecution of the Church. To the Government of Mexico these declarations of Faith were clearly rebellious and treasonous. Yet the holy words were ratified by Pope Pius XI, who officially established the Feast of Christ the King in 1925.
JOHN 11:25-27: Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Believe you this? She said to him, Yes, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.