24 November, Wednesday — Endurance in Adversity

Nov 24 – Memorial for St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest, martyr, and companions, Martyrs of Vietnam

Between the arrival of the first Portuguese missionary in 1533, through the Dominicans and then the Jesuit missions of the 17th century, the politically inspired persecutions of the 19th century, and the Communist-led terrors of the 20th, there have been many thousands of Catholics and other Christians murdered for their faith in Vietnam. Some were priests, nuns, or religious brothers. Some were lay people, some were foreign missionaries, but most were native Vietnamese killed by their own government and people.

Record keeping being what it was, and because the government did not care to keep track of the people it murdered, we have no information on the vast bulk of the victims. In 1988, Pope John Paul II recognized over a hundred of them, including some whose Causes we do have, and in commemoration of those we do not. They are collectively known as the Martyrs of Vietnam.

St. Andrew Dung Lac (1785-1839) was a Vietnamese priest who worked in the missions with the priests of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris (MEP). He was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured in the persecutions of Minh-Meng. He died with St. Peter Thi, beheaded in Hanoi for the offense of being a priest. He was canonized on 19 Jun 1988 by Pope John Paul II. He is one of the Martyrs of Vietnam.

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Dan 5:1-6,13-14,16-17,23-28
Lk 21:12-19

“You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but not a hair of your head will be lost. Your endurance will win you your lives.”

It has been a while, but particularly in the recent months, that I felt the Catholic church has been under attack. From scandal after scandal of abuse, the recent residential school incident, the pandemic rendering Catholics unable to attend Mass in person, to the current negative, yet hugely inaccurate social climate, on any religious truths.

At times, I feel really despondent about my faith. Not faith in our Heavenly Father, but the practice of faith against all adversity and all opposing forces. It seemed like a battle just to hold our ground in the face of all the negativity.

Often, I quietly pray if God can rectify the current situation, and silently ask why doesn’t He take action now? The very second I ask that, I realize that I too would be obliterated along with all that is wrong in this world. For we are all sinners, we are broken in various ways. It is His mercy that He takes the time to rectify all the wrong, by giving us chances to change our hearts and our ways.

For by grace that our Lord provides, do we accomplish all things, do we overcome all things. It is precisely our reliance on His grace that provides us the endurance we need for the journey in the current valley of tears.

I’m not trying to depress you. On the contrary, this should bring us Catholics immense hope and faith that our God triumphs in the end, and He is keeping an eye on us as we journey. That is comforting to know!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)

Prayer: Our most merciful Lord, please grant us the grace of perseverance and endurance.  Strengthen our faith, our hope and our trust in You until You come again.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you for giving the strength we need in facing any adversity. You are all we need.

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