June 17, 2016
Remarks from a homily by Pope Francis reflecting on martyrdom:
"The prayer at the beginning of the Mass recalls that 'the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.' We speak of the growth of a plant and this makes us think of what Jesus used to say: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a seed. Someone took the seed and planted it in the ground and then went home – and whether he slept or was awake – the seed grew and blossomed.' This seed is the Word of God that grows and becomes the Kingdom of Heaven; it becomes Church thanks to the strength of the Holy Spirit and to the witness of Christians.
We know that there is no growth without the Spirit: it is He who is Church, it is He who makes the Church grow, it is He who convokes the Church’s community. But the witness of Christians is necessary too. And when historical situations require a strong witness, there are martyrs, the greatest witnesses. And the Church grows thanks to the blood of the martyrs. This is the beauty of martyrdom. It begins with witness, day after day, and it can end like Jesus, the first martyr, the first witness, the faithful witness: with blood."
Today we pray especially for all who labor in God's vineyard and are persecuted for answering His's call to spread His Good News. May they be strengthened and supported by God's grace in spreading the Gospel!
Day 5 - The Novena for the Persecuted Church
O great cloud of witnesses! O host of Angels and Saints worshiping God for all eternity! O holy ones in heaven above, Pray for us!
You who were once part of the Church on earth, you who were faithful servants of the Church Militant, you who suffered for the love of God, Pray for us!
In all ages, the Church is persecuted and hated. We pray, oh Lord, through your holy Saints, that we may be blessed with the freedom to worship and adore you at all times! We pray that you may bless your Church throughout the world and me, personally, with your grace to persevere with love in the face of persecution just as You did on the Cross.
(Mention your personal intentions here)
St Christopher – Pray for us!
St. Charles Lwanga – Pray for us!
St. Kizito and the Ugandan Martyrs – Pray for us!
St. Paul Chong Hasang, St. Andrew Kim and the Korean Martyrs – Pray for us!
St. Genesius – Pray for us!
St. Cyprian – Pray for us!
St. Luke – Pray for us!
Blessed José Luis Sánchez del Río – Pray for us!
St. Andrew – Pray for us!
Holy Innocents – Pray for us!
St. Catherine of Alexandria – Pray for us!
St. Fabian and St. Sebastian pray for us!