Last night I had dinner with a friend who recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land. In Jerusalem, she was cursed and screamed at for quietly praying her Rosary at the Wailing Wall. She was asked to leave a restaurant when the host spotted her bag, which is adorned with a beautiful Marian image, and told to go the dining room upstairs. She was also told to return the cup of coffee she got at the counter before leaving and was advised not to return. This was starkly different than the trips she had taken previously.
While making the Stations of the Cross, she saw that an ad for jeans had been disrespectfully posted right above the 9th station - Christ's third fall beneath the weight of the cross. She was dismayed but wondered who she could complain to about such a blatant disregard.
We talked at length about the events happening in our world and how everything, even the Holy Land, now feels different. We may be at the point of no return.
My friend had not heard of St. Madeline of Nagasaki before, so I gave her a brief history, which you can find elsewhere on this blog. Madeline was only 24 years old when she was put to death for the crime of being a Christian. She was hung upside down over a pit of animal entrails and other garbage for two weeks before she finally died. I pray but don't know that I would demonstrate similar conviction of my faith should the same choice be posed to me.
I pray to St. Madeline each day for Christians who are persecuted everywhere, but especially in the Middle East. The lovely jihadists at ISIS apparently blew up Jonah's tomb. They've been on a destructive rampage that, in the end, will make the Taliban look like choir boys. Apparently, alQaeda isn't radical enough for these folks. Boko Haram, ISIS, al Qaeda - all spawned by the same father.
The gates of Hell will not prevail, but the trials are coming just the same and we can't say we don't deserve it. Some folks are wearing or posting the Arabic symbol for N in solidarity with Christians in Mosul, who have been told to get out or die by the sword. ISIS terrorists have marked Christian homes with the N symbol to stand for Nazarene. Chilling, isn't it?
We cling to the Cross.
We each carry our own, and one day, it will carry us.