HIstory classes teach us about the great persecutions of the Christian Church in the Ancient Roman Empire, but I find at least that I forget quite easily that the persecution of Christians continues to this day.
Its easy to forget in our daily lives that being a Christian can be difficult. It is always difficult to lead Christian lives, but we don't have persecution on top of it. In the US we might get hassled for being Christian (or unfortunately other Christians hassle us for being Catholic), but we have it easy. But as Hebrews 13:3 reminds us, we should remember the persecuted members of the Church.
Muslim persecution of Christians exists wherever Islam is the dominant religion. From Pakistan to Morocco Christians are persecuted for believing (and rightly so) that Christ is much, much more than merely a prophet.
In India, Christians are persecuted by hardline Hindus. Some Indian states have outlawed conversion to Christianity.
The Berlin Wall may have fallen, but Communist oppression of Christ's Body persist. There are over a billion people in China and about 6 billion in the world. That's right over 1/6th of the world remains under Commie oppression! They not only oppress the Church in China, but try to subvert it with the Catholic Patriotic Association.
Its great that we went across the globe to liberate the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, but just 90 miles off of our shores the tyrrany of Communism remains. The Church remains persecuted in Cuba, China and other Marxist nations. Its speaks volumes when people would rather risk drowning, dehydration, storms and hunger to float 90 miles on an inner tube than stay at home.
But enough of the bad news though. We know who will eventually win. Christ has promised us the eternal victory.
But the battle is not over yet and there is much we can do to help our brothers and sisters that we so often forget are still persecuted and often martyred like so many saints before them, including our first Vicar of Christ, St. Peter.
There are many organizations such as the Voice of the Martyrs, the Bible Site, Aid to the Church in Need, and the Cardinal Kung Foundation actively working with the persecuted Church.
We can take comfort in the Church's triumphs over persecution in ancient Rome and the Eastern Bloc (thanks in no small part to our former Pope JPII), but as Our Lady of Fatima reminded us prayer is necessary to avoid even more horrible evils that may come of Communism.
Our Lady of Fatima and St Joseph the worker, pray for us!