20130617 Martyrs remembered 紀念殉道烈士

On July 13, 1917 the three children of Fatima saw a vision regarding the persecutions during the 20th century.

            The children saw a bishop dressed in white and they had the impression that it was the Holy Father. “Other bishops, priests, men and women religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other bishops, priests, men and women religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”

Countless martyrs

            During the 20th century there were persecutions in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East and Europe.

            Between 1931 and 1939 Spain experienced the greatest Christian mass slaughter since the times of the Roman Empire.

            During World War II, the Nazi regime fiercely persecuted the Church. After World War II, Communist persecutions had become systematic in Eastern Europe.

            Blessed John Paul II said, “Countless numbers refused to yield to the cult of the false gods of the 20th century and were sacrificed by Communism, Nazism, by the idolatry of State or race”.

            On May 13, 1981 John Paul II (the bishop dressed in white) was shot at St. Peter’s Square. After the assassination attempt, it was clear to John Paul II that “it was a mother’s hand that guided the bullet’s path and in his throes the Pope halted at the threshold of death”.

Inspiring witnesses

            John Paul II said, “The Church has once again become a Church of martyrs…This witness must not be forgotten.”

            The Holy Father repeatedly urged the faithful to keep alive the memory of the martyrs of the 20th century. He said, “The new generations must know the cost of the faith they have inherited, if they are to receive the torch of the Gospel with gratitude and shed its light on the new century and the new millennium.”

            The Church keeps alive the memory of martyrs especially through canonizations and beatifications.

            Two of the most famous martyrs canonized by John Paul II are St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941) and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross or Edith Stein (1891-1942).

            St. Maximilian was a great devotee of Our Lady. He founded the Militia of Mary Immaculate, started a Marian magazine, and established an international center of Marian devotion.

During World War II, St. Maximilian was arrested by the Nazi. At the concentration camp, in reprisal for one prisoner’s escape, ten men were chosen to die. Father Kolbe offered himself in place of a young husband and father. He died a martyr of charity on August 14, 1941.

            Edith Stein was a philosopher who converted to the Catholic Faith after reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. She became a Carmelite nun and lived a life of prayer, fasting, and penance. In 1942 she was arrested by the Nazi and was killed in the gas chamber on August 9. 

1917年7月13日,聖母在葡萄牙的花地瑪,顯現給三個小孩,讓他們預見,教會在二十世紀所受的迫害。

 

三個孩子看到身穿白衣的主教,他們一致認定那位就是教宗。路濟亞寫道:「我們見到他和其他主教、神父及修士、修女,走向陡峭的山上;山頂豎立著一個粗製的十字架,有如一株帶樹皮的軟木樹。抵達山頂前,教宗走經一座半被荒廢的大城,不乏頹垣敗瓦,令人舉步唯艱。教宗顯得痛楚和憂傷,他不斷為走經的橫屍亡魂祈禱。到達山頂後,教宗跪在那巨大十字架下,但隨即被一群軍人用鎗及箭射殺,隨後趕抵的主教、神父及修士、修女,甚至包括一些各階層的平信徒,他們遭到與教宗同一的命運。在大十字架下兩旁,站著兩位天使,手執水晶造的灑水棒,用犧牲烈士的血,灑向奔向天主的靈魂。」

 

無數的殉道

 

二十世紀,亞洲、非洲、中美洲和南美洲、中東及歐洲,均發生迫害教會的事情。

 

1931至1939年期間,天主教在西班牙經歷自羅馬帝國以來,最大規模的屠殺。

 

第二次世界大戰時,納粹軍團瘋狂迫害天主教會;大戰結束後,教會在東歐卻遭受共產黨有系統地禁制和壓迫。

 

真福教宗若望保祿二世說:「二十世紀,無數貞忠之士,因為不屈於敬拜異神,又受納粹和共產主義的迫害,再因不容於某些地方與族群,都成為教會的殉道者。」

 

1981年5月13日,身穿白袍的教宗若望保祿二世,在聖伯多祿廣場被企圖行弒受傷,幸保性命。事後他認定是聖母的手擋住了子彈,保了他的性命。

 

激勵人心的見證

 

教宗若望保祿二世曾說過:「教會又變成殉道者的教會;這類血的見證,我們不應忘懷。」他又敦促信眾,常緊記近代的殉道者,並強調「新一代的教友們,要明白承傳信德的價值,以感恩之心接過福音的光,讓這真光在新世紀、新千禧年,發光發亮。」教宗身體力行,以宣聖、宣福慶典,延續和活化對殉道聖人的紀念。

 

教宗若望保祿二世宣聖的人中,兩位廣受世人注目的是聖高比神父(1894-1941),及聖德蘭.本篤十字架(又稱聖依蒂.詩婷)(1891-1941) 。

聖高比熱愛聖母,創立了「無玷聖母軍團」,創辦「瑪利亞報刊」,更設立國際敬禮聖母中心。第二次世界大戰爆發,高比神父被納粹逮捕,1941年8月14日,在集中營代替一名年輕的父親接受毒氣死刑,成了愛德的殉道者。

 

聖依蒂.詩婷是哲學學者,閱讀過聖女大德蘭的自傳後,皈依聖教,且成為聖衣會修女,過著祈禱、齋戒及補贖的生活。1942年被納粹拘捕,同年8月9日,死在集中營毒氣室內。

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