Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Persecuted Church


Christianity seems so commonplace in this country that many forget how truly radical Christian beliefs are. The very idea of God becoming man so scandalized the once glorious angel Lucifer that he rebelled against God, too proud to worship Christ in the lowly guise of a man. Even now, Lucifer rages against Christ’s followers. This rebellion takes shape today in the bloody attacks of Islamic terrorist groups against all who do not believe as they do, often singling out Christians with a special vengeance. With stunning frequency, videotaped murders of Christians appear online, while reports of cold-blooded massacres of hundreds of innocent schoolchildren, university students, churchgoers, or Sunday shoppers pour in. Countless victims are kidnapped, raped, enslaved, or murdered in the name of Allah.
Facing the reality of this horrific violence is difficult. I cringe at the bloody photographs that appear on the news and avoid watching the videos released by the terrorists. But recently, after hearing about an ISIS video showing the beheading of 21 Ethiopian Christians, I watched a video response: “Who Would Dare to Love ISIS: A Letter From the People of the Cross.” This beautiful short film, linked below, included a clip from the ISIS video.

 

I watched as the 21 men were led across a beach by masked assassins, not one among them begging for his life or pleading for mercy. As the men were forced to kneel before their executioners, the camera paused momentarily on the face of one young man, eyes closed, praying silently, his countenance reflecting great peace. Not one of those young men was overcome by hate or fear: not one gave in to the demand to deny Christ. The clip ended before the beheadings but those brave men all died that day. Yet even in death, they were victorious.  

The slickly produced ISIS video, intended as a propaganda tool, will surely backfire, touching many hearts as it did mine. The visual evidence of the courage of these men and others like them may wake up Christians everywhere, even in our peaceful and often complacent country. As in the early days of Christianity, the faith and hope shown by these modern martyrs in the face of death will convert hearts and minds, perhaps even winning the hearts of their persecutors for Christ.

We may never face death for our faith but the day will come when we must decide if we will stand with Christ – or deny Him. Jesus warned, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you… in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.”(Jn. 15:20, 16:2) In preparation for this spiritual battle, we must arm ourselves with prayer.

Recently in Nigeria, where persecution by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram is severe, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme was praying the rosary in his chapel, distraught by the violence decimating his people, when Jesus appeared to him in a vision, holding out a sword. As the Bishop reached for the sword, it became a rosary. Jesus gave it to him, saying, “Boko Haram is gone.” (see link below for more details about this vision.)
In this battle, Jesus shows us the path to victory. Will we take it? Trust in Him, pray always, and take courage. He is calling you to follow Him to the glory of the Cross. Even in the darkest night, the Light of Christ shines, and the darkness has not overcome it. This battle is the Lord’s, and He has won the victory.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

By His Wounds, We Are Healed

In times of deepest sorrow, Jesus is with us.

It’s been said that God created man because He loved the stories. In fact, He was so caught up in the story of mankind that He himself entered into human history, in just the same way we all do. God became a child, entrusting himself to the care of a mother and father, in a little family that faced all the hardships and joys of any human family, thus showing us how we are to live, love, suffer, and die. With silent strength, Joseph accepted the task of watching over Jesus and Mary. Mary, chosen to bear the Son of God, accepted her mysterious fate with grace, from the exultant moment the child was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit, until the moment a sword of sorrow pierced her heart as she watched her beloved Son die on the cross. Confronted with mysterious events they could not understand, Mary and Joseph trusted in God’s plan, obedient to His will.

Like Mary, a mother’s greatest joys and her deepest sorrows are intimately bound up with her children, with whom she shares an eternal bond of love. Like Joseph, a father’s greatest call is to be protector of his family; his deepest desire, to see his children “grow in wisdom and stature.” This natural inclination towards parenthood and the desire for our children’s welfare is truly written in our hearts and in our DNA. It is also true that when a parent experiences the loss of a child, sorrow pierces the heart like a sword, whether that loss occurs before birth due to a pregnancy loss like miscarriage or abortion; or later, with the death of an older child. In the case of the unborn child, we sometimes fail to fully acknowledge the impact of the loss. Grief is buried: unexpressed and unresolved, it can negatively impact our lives and relationships. The traumatic loss of a child deeply impacts the very essence of God’s intention for men and women, almost invariably leaving a profound wound that is difficult to heal – but nothing is impossible with God.

If we allow Jesus, who lived in that little family and at the same time was One with the Father in heaven, into whatever hidden grief we hold in our hearts, He can transform our sorrow into joy. He knows what it means to laugh and to weep, to rejoice and to mourn, to be betrayed and abandoned, to lose a friend to death, to feel compassion for a woman mourning the loss of her only son – and to suffer and die. The wounds in His hands, his feet, and his heart are evidence of His humanity, and those wounds remain visible even in His glorified Divinity. His scars, like our own, provide strength. Only Jesus, fully Divine and fully human, can heal our deepest sorrows. As Bishop Fulton Sheen once wrote, "Scarred men come for healing only to scarred Hands! Only a Risen Jesus with scars can understand our hearts.”
 
Read this article on Catholic365:
 

By His Wounds, We Are Healed

 
 
 
 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Who Would Dare to Love ISIS? (A Letter from the People of the Cross)

Love conquers hate, light overcomes darkness, and death is no more.

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Please watch.



Blogging for Catholic365

Catholic 365: Spreading the Word of God and the Catholic Faith


Please visit my page on Catholic365, a wonderful online forum for Catholic writers covering topics on faith, life, and "what's going on."

Find it at the link below:

Catholic365: Author Nancy Marie Murray


Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Great Romance - Marriage in God's Plan

There is much talk in our times about marriage - 
what it means; who can marry; why or why not?
 
These questions represent a new challenge to Christians to clearly teach what marriage is meant to be and why we should preserve the true meaning of marriage. 
 
Throughout scripture, from the first scenes in Genesis to the last moments of the Book of Revelation, we can find the meaning and intention of God for marriage,
meant to be a beautiful reflection of Christ's love for us, His Church.


My article for the Tri-City Herald on marriage and its meaning is linked below:

Following God's Will Brings Profound Love

 
 
 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Heaven Unveiled: The Apocalypse

The Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse -

 what it meant for the early Christians, and what it means for us today.
 
 

Link below to read my article for the Tri-City Herald's Spiritual Life column:

Always be prepared to stand for your faith

 
 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Pilgrimage in Honor of Our Lady of Sorrows

My article online at the National Catholic Register is linked below.

Our Lady's Tears - A Visit to the Grotto in Portland, Oregon

"If you believe she [the Blessed Mother] has appeared anywhere...listen to her"

~Immaculee Ilibagiza