Martyrdom: an all too modern reality.
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Pope Francis recently said, “It is true that during the time of Nero many Christians were persecuted, and today there are just as many.” This brief trailer helps us to get a glimpse at this reality.
“Love Costs Every Thing” maps the history of Christian persecution from the first Christian martyrs to seven present-day stories of faith that knows no price. In the face of persecution, these followers of Christ fear compromise more than death itself.
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Filmed in Iraq, Colombia, India, Egypt, France and the United States, this feature-length documentary includes commentary from United States Congressmen, foreign government officials, religious leaders and scholars.
Please check out their website in order to purchase the full version here (we are recommending it based upon the trailer, we have not seen the full version. Those who have, please leave a commentary).
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All this stands to remind us and invite us to accept our Catholic faith in its integrity: no “ifs” or “buts”, pure fiat. Realism, the only acceptable Catholic perspective, requires that we open our eyes to a world that rejects His Coming. We too are called to experience that rejection, following in the footsteps of our Master. The dynamic of the cross, of Christ’s martyrdom, is one that we too are called to live. Some of our brothers and sisters of the faith do so in a very graphic way.
How do we Catholics understand martyrdom?
Benedict XVI spoke beautifully about the reality and mystery of martyrdom on the Feast of St. Stephen in 2007:
It is always necessary to notice this distinctive feature of Christian martyrdom: it is exclusively an act of love for God and for man, including persecutors. At holy Mass today, we therefore pray to the Lord that he who “died praying for those who killed him, [may] help us to imitate his goodness and to love our enemies” (cf. Opening Prayer). How many sons and daughters of the Church down the centuries have followed his example, from the first persecution in Jerusalem to the persecutions of the Roman emperors, to the multitudes of martyrs in our day! Indeed, even today we receive news from various parts of the world of missionaries, priests, Bishops, men and women religious and lay faithful who are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, deprived of freedom or prevented from exercising it because they are disciples of Christ and apostles of the Gospel; at times, they even suffer and die for being in communion with the universal Church or for their fidelity to the Pope. Recalling the experience of the Vietnamese Martyr, Paul Le-Bao-Tinh (d. 1857) in my Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi (cf. n. 37), I noted that suffering is transformed into joy through the power of hope that comes from faith. The Christian martyr, like Christ and through union with him, “accepts it in his heart, and he transforms it into an action of love. What on the outside is simply brutal violence – the Crucifixion – from within becomes an act of total self-giving love…. Violence is transformed into love, and death into life” (World Youth Day 2005, Homily, Mass on Marienfeld Esplanade, Cologne, 21 August 2005; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 24 August, p. 11). The Christian martyr brings about the victory of love over hatred and death.
A video reviewing recent comments of Pope Francis dealing with persecution.
Prince Charles spoke recently about the increasing persecution of Christian in the Middle East.
It is also important to realize that while explicit martyrdom currently takes place much more often in the Middle East, Africa, and places such as North Korea (amongst others), the reality of persecution of Christians is a widespread phenomena. A short time ago, a large group of Catholic men in Argentina suffered all sorts of abuse while defending their cathedral. (See Post)