Jul 9 – Memorial for St. Augustine Zhao Rong, priest, & companions
Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria in the 600s. Depending on China’s relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operate secretly.
The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Most of them (87) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or labourers, ranging from nine years of age to 72. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests.
The 33 foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese solider who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse (Paris Foreign Mission Society) to his martyrdom in Beijing. Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815.
Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized in Rome on October 1, 2000.
“I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy.”
Have you ever read the Old Testament? I mean really read it fervently and in sequential order? If so, you will find it amazing that despite the many, many, many times God saved the Israelites, the chosen people; despite the many, many, many times that God has forgiven their inequities, they still sin against God. Yet, when there is need, they cry out to God for salvation. What is more astounding is the fact that God forgives them, remembers His covenant with them, answers and delivers them, time and time again.
As I read some of the stories, I could not help but marvel at the endless patience and love God has. I know that if someone has disappointed or hurt me multiple times, I am ready to write them off and distance myself from them. Fortunately, God is not petty with His mercy. This is not to say that there are no consequences for the sins of the chosen people, or for us. There are consequences to our turning our backs to God, and consequences to choosing to fall into temptation instead of following God’s teachings. God understands that we are human and not infallible. As humans, with our innate weakness, we are bound to stumble and fall. Sometimes, we can get up on our own and sometimes we need help to stand up again. That is why God gave us His grace to help us make it through the rough patches. Just as when we fall physically, there are often injuries, either minor or major; similarly, when we fall spiritually, there are injuries. When there are injuries, we often ask why does God seek to destroy or punish us? It is so easy to look at the bad and forget about the good. God does not take joy in punishing or destroying us. Rather, God is love and is merciful. Just as a parent who loves his child will not hesitate to discipline and correct the child for the child’s sake and wellbeing; our Heavenly Father will not hesitate to correct our misguided path, so that we can avoid the pitfalls. Our Heavenly Father is merciful and faithful to the covenant He made with us. If He doesn’t love us completely, He would not have sent His only Son to die for us so that we could live.
Brothers and sisters, let us not forget God’s mercy, love and faithfulness next time we question His justice.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we pray that we will not take Your love and mercy for granted, and that we have unwavering faith in Your Divine Mercy.
Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, we thank you for Your love and mercy and for calling us your children, though we be unworthy.