Christianity arrived in China by way of Syria in the 600s. Depending on China's relations with the outside world, Christianity over the centuries was free to grow or was forced to operate secretly. The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Most of them (87) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or laborers, ranging from nine years of age to 72. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests. The 33 foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese solider who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse (Paris Foreign Mission Society) to his martyrdom in Beijing. Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815. Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized in Rome on October 1, 2000.
The 120 martyrs in this group died between 1648 and 1930. Most of them (87) were born in China and were children, parents, catechists or laborers, ranging from nine years of age to 72. This group includes four Chinese diocesan priests.
The 33 foreign-born martyrs were mostly priests or women religious, especially from the Order of Preachers, the Paris Foreign Mission Society, the Friars Minor, Jesuits, Salesians and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.
Augustine Zhao Rong was a Chinese solider who accompanied Bishop John Gabriel Taurin Dufresse (Paris Foreign Mission Society) to his martyrdom in Beijing. Augustine was baptized and not long after was ordained as a diocesan priest. He was martyred in 1815.
Beatified in groups at various times, these 120 martyrs were canonized in Rome on October 1, 2000.
The People's Republic of China and the Roman Catholic Church each have well over a billion members, but there are over 12 million Catholics in China. The reasons for that are better explained by historical conflicts than by a wholesale rejection of the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Chinese-born martyrs honored by today's feast were regarded by their persecutors as dangerous because they were considered allies of enemy, Catholic countries. The martyrs born outside China often tried to distance themselves from European political struggles relating to China, but their persecutors saw them as Westerners and therefore, by definition, anti-Chinese.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is intended to benefit all peoples; today's martyrs knew that. May 21st-century Christians live in such a way that Chinese women and men will be attracted to hear that Good News and embrace it.
A year after these martyrs were canonized, Saint John Paul II addressed a group of Chinese and Western scholars, gathered in Rome for a symposium honoring the 400th anniversary of the arrival in Beijing of Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit scholar and Chinese intellectual.
After noting the positive contributions that Christianity had made to China, especially in health care and education, Pope John Paul II continued: "History, however, reminds us of the unfortunate fact that the work of members of the church in China was not always without error, the bitter fruit of their personal limitations and of the limits of their action. Moreover, their action was often conditioned by difficult situations connected with complex historical events and conflicting political interests. Nor were theological disputes lacking, which caused bad feelings and created serious difficulties in preaching the Gospel....
"I feel deep sadness for these errors and limits of the past, and I regret that in many people these failings may have given the impression of a lack of respect and esteem for the Chinese people on the part of the Catholic Church, making them feel that the church was motivated by feelings of hostility toward China. For all of this I ask the forgiveness and understanding of those who may have felt hurt in some way by such actions on the part of Christians."
Daily Prayer - 2015-07-09
I remind myself that I am in your presence O Lord.
I will ask God's help,
to be free from my own preoccupations,
to be open to God in this time of prayer,
to come to know, love and serve God more.
At this moment Lord I turn my thoughts to You. I will leave aside my chores and preoccupations. I will take rest and refreshment in your presence Lord.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Gn 44:18-21, 23b-29; 45:1-5
Judah approached Joseph and said: "I beg you, my lord,
Responsorial Psalm PS 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21
R. (5a) Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
Alleluia Mk 1:15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 10:7-15
Jesus said to his Apostles:
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Meditation: Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29; 45:1-5
Subscriber? Login to view archives.
Saint Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs (Optional Memorial)
It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you. (Genesis 45:5)
Have you ever heard of a Fresnel lens? It's a very thin, powerful lens system that can project the light from a single bulb as far as twenty miles away. Pioneered in 1823, it is still in use today in many lighthouses around the world.
Although the Fresnel lens was an important advancement, the actual placement of the lighthouse itself was just as important. If it was built on ground that was too low or too high, for example, it could be obscured by obstacles or by the clouds. Sometimes, a lighthouse had to be placed on a cliff overlooking the sea or on outcropping rocks, making for both a treacherous construction project and an inhospitable place to work.
Near the end of his story, Joseph realizes that his job is to be a kind of Fresnel lens. He sees that the different situations he has found himself in—prisoner, servant, prophet, and steward—have all been opportunities for him to shine God's light into the lives of the people of Egypt. He also realizes that God has been using him to save his people, the Israelites, from famine. This is probably the hardest of all his situations, however, because it means that Joseph has to step out of his official, lordly role and forgive his brothers for all the harm they have caused him.
As he did with Joseph, God has placed you where you are so that you can shine his light. It may be hard to believe at times, but it's true—you have the potential to help people find their way in this world and even more important, to find their way to the Lord. As it was with Joseph, there are times when it's not all that easy to shine your light, times when you have to forgive or go out of your way or be extra generous.
Don't let this frighten you. Remember, it's his light shining in you, so it doesn't all depend on you. Just imitate Joseph, and take it one step at a time. You'll find Jesus giving you the grace you need as you lean on him.
"Lord, help me to shine your light wherever I am."