21 May, Saturday – Persecution and Detachment

May 21 – Saint Christopher Magallanes and his Companions

St. Cristóbal Magallanes Jara was born in the state of Jalisco in Mexico, in 1869. He was ordained priest at the age of 30, and became parish priest of his home town of Totatiche. He took a special interest in the evangelization of the local indigenous Huichol people and founded a mission for them. When government persecution of the Catholic Church began and the seminaries were closed, he opened a small local ‘auxiliary seminary’. He wrote and preached against armed rebellion, but was falsely accused of promoting the Cristero rebellion. He was arrested on 21 May 1927, while on the way to celebrate Mass at a farm. He was executed without a trial, but not before giving his remaining possessions to his executioners and giving them absolution.

With him are celebrated 24 other Mexican martyrs of the early 20th century.

– Universalis

Acts 16:1-10
Jn 15:18-21

If the world hates you, remember that it hated me before you.”

Recently, secularism and relativism have been constantly on my mind. In silent observation, I see their effects on Christians and non-Christians alike. Let’s be clear what secularism and relativism mean. Secularism is the indifference and rejection of religion. It is a desire to exclude religion from social activities and civic affairs. Relativism is the idea that there are no universal, objective truths; only points of view, and each opinion or judgment is valid only for the person or group holding them.

At first glance, these attitudes seem to be innocuous. Separating church from state and to be open to different opinions seem like good ideas. Tolerance of one and all, this is the making of a perfect world. However, you and I know that this is not the case. Current secularism deems religion, particularly Christianity as outdated, unnecessary and ‘mumbo jumbo’ for people who need emotional crutches. To the people who drank from the secular fountain, God is but an imaginary being and should be relegated to the realm of fairy tales, and has no place in society and its discussions. Religion, particularly Christianity, has been shunned. You don’t need to look very far for signs of this. Companies like Starbucks, Google, Facebook and many others have succumbed to the demands of secularists and have done away with the words Christmas and Easter in all their promotional materials. Even to the point that the design of the disposable Christmas coffee cup has become a great debate (at least in North America). What are these people so afraid of? A God that loves them so much that He was willing to die for us? That, truly is a threat. Because admitting it would make us see ourselves in a different light, and we may not like what we see.

The idea of relativism hides behind the guise of freedom. The freedom of choice, the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. Yes, freedom is important, but within the freedom, there are safeguards that do not allow us to hurt others. Like in the case of freedom of the press, we cannot propagate hateful and discriminatory thoughts, speeches or actions against another. Likewise within freedom of will, there are boundaries to protect ourselves and others. Relativism has done away with the safeguards because it does not admit that there are truths that cannot be denied; such as God and His teachings, and that there are boundaries that cannot be crossed (such as the killing of an unborn child or terminally ill – abortion and euthanasia, which are legal in parts of North America). Christians, let us persevere in our faith and not fall victims to the pressures of the world. Let us fashion ourselves like the unbeatable ‘bobo dolls’ that bounce back again and again in the face of adversity and hostility. A friend’s daughter wanted to bring a nativity scene for show and tell to school, and was told by the teacher that it is not permitted to bring religious artefacts to school. However, another child was able to bring a menorah — perhaps the teacher deemed it to be cultural and not religious.

Whatever the case, with the increasing sentiment of secularism and relativism, with the persecution of Christians on the rise, let us stand firm in our beliefs. May our faith be strengthened like the immovable rock against the tide. If we feel ostracised and criticised, let us remember that the people also rejected our Lord Jesus. But in the end, our Lord triumphed over death and sin.

Brothers and sisters, we too can share in that glory if we remain faithful and unwavering in our love of God and His Word.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, grant us the grace to follow Your commandment to love others as we love ourselves, to will the good of the other.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us despite our many transgressions.

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