25 May 2014

This Week Letter – May 25, 2014

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My Dear Parishioners and Friends, The passage from the first letter of St. Peter (3:15-18) designated for the Sixth Sunday of Easter speaks, among other things, of the Christian obligation to defend our faith. At various times through the centuries, the followers of Christ have defended Christianity … sometimes through theological translations, when elsewhere others used force of arms as, for example, when the pagans wanted to take over Europe. Many died as martyrs giving their lives in defense of their faith. Today we fight a different battle. Although it still cannot be said that Christians are not thrown into prisons. It is needless to remind anyone of the incidents in India in 2008 when many Christians were killed there. In contemporary times, Christians are being persecuted by Islamic or Hindu radical movements as well as by radical atheistic movements currently prevailing, for instance, in North Korea and for many prior years in the USSR. According to estimates of the Open Doors Foundation nearly 100 million Christians are victims of persecution, mainly in Islamic countries along with North Korea as a result of Hindu extremism and Islamic terrorism, with the trend only intensifying. A report of the papal organization ” Church in Need” states that over 170,000 Christians die each year throughout the world. The “Church in Need” estimates that 3/4 of the victims of religious persecution are Christians. Per Dr. Tomasz Korczynski, up to 70 million died a martyr’s death through the year 2010, 45 million of these in the 20th century alone. Testimonies of the sufferings of these Christians for the faith is harrowing; even the story of Brother Thach of Vietnam who was detained by the authorities simply for taking pictures of the police, photos meant to be distributed at Christian meetings. Brother Thach preached the Gospel from his prison cell for which he was placed in solitary confinement– a small cage where he suffered dehydration under a 500-watt bulb. Another example — in Eritrea, Christians declaring their faith were detained in prison cells. In today’s Europe, a Swedish Pastor was made to apologize and pay compensation just for following in the steps of St. Paul the Apostle and declaring homosexuality to be a perversion. There are priests and pastors who are afraid to call abortion and euthanasia murder. This, too, falls under Christian persecution. In our world today, it is difficult to stand up for Christianity. It is necessary to be armed with appropriate resources. Christians of all denominations ought to unite, set aside old conflicts and together face progressively worse discrimination. I urge everyone to ask themselves a few of the following questions: Am I supporting persecuted Christians with my prayers? Among us, do I witness acts of Christian discrimination? Do I pray for the unity of all Christians? Do my attitude and behavior give witness to my own discrimination against Christians of other denominations — Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, etc.? In another week, on Sunday, June 1st, we will come together at the Mass commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the formation and ongoing activity of the Polonia Club. During the 1:30pm Solemn Mass, at which Bishop Andrew Wypych will preside, we will thank God for all the good the parish has experienced and will continue to receive thanks to the dedicated religious and patriotic work and collaborative efforts of the Polonia Club. I am personally grateful to its president Casey Milewski and his wife Teresa as well as to the entire management board for such a wonderfully running club that is truly a good parish asset. All are invited to celebrate, regardless of origin, tongue or culture. Also invited are representatives of our neighborhood government and of the City of Chicago. Let us show that we are all one family supporting each other. Today is your last chance to purchase tickets for the Anniversary Banquet being held on June 1 at 4:00pm at Lone Tree Manor. Until our next meeting!