Our only hope to survive
Christian persecution is prayer
Excerpts of a Poor Clare’s testimony amid
the scourges of terrorism in India
L’Osservatore Romano, Issue #49, p. 13
December 3, 2008
What is the impact of anti-Christian activity on our contemplative life? What are our impressions at this time? What are our thoughts, hopes, fears and anxieties?
First of all, let us say that we are profoundly moved and saddened by the fact that our country, once tolerant and peaceful, has become a hotbed of terrorism and of Christian persecution. These causes are not enough to make us desperate or disheartened, because “we know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now” (Rm 8:22) awaiting the new heavens and a new earth.
We are full of hope because we know that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity and that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him” (Rm 8:28). We know that this is the storm that precedes the calm; we know that God will triumph and that Easter Sunday will certainly come after this Good Friday.
We are undoubtedly facing a real persecution of Christians, a persecution that is an invitation to rouse all Christians from their lethargy, a lethargy in which we contemplative Sisters can also be caught. It pains us to think that perhaps until now we have not been true Christians, that our Heavenly Father is giving us a jolt in order to make us credible Christians and we praise the Lord because the Church in India is awakening.
What has been the impact of all these events upon us cloistered nuns? Only by listening to what happened in a community at Quilon can one understand what is occurring in all of our communities. It all began with an unacceptable law on education, approved in Kerala. Then we heard of all the events in Orissa and the profanation of our chapel in Milagre, in Bangalore. We were very sad and decided to fast and pray.
It has been interesting and encouraging to see the reaction of the elderly in the home next door to our monastery. Until that time they had come regularly to the community prayers and limited themselves to remaining in their places in the refectory. However, after hearing this bad news, they went into the chapel with their walkers and their canes, to pray together with the community.
One 80-year-old went laboriously from one door to the next, knocking at the doors of her friends, summoning them to chapel to pray and intercede together with us. Their fervour edified and encouraged us; even the elderly felt rejuvenated.
“We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him” (Rm 8:28). We are certain of this. Like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and storms, so these frightening and destructive events are also necessary episodes that God permits in order to perfect the human race.
We believe and we are sure that, even if what we are now experiencing is painful and apparently more than we can bear, they are part of the plan of God who corrects dishonest humanity, asking the human person for conversion of heart and purifying the Church.
While we await the renewal of the Church in India with deep hope, we are struck by the plight of the Christian poor and missionaries. Numerous Christians must convert to Hinduism to save their lives; a great many women religious and others, especially the poorest, are hiding in the wild without either water or food. Women, especially religious, have been abused and kidnapped. Our hearts are deeply pierced and we feel called to intensify our life of prayer and sacrifice.
At the same time, we find comfort in the thought that our Heavenly Father knows all, and we pray that His heart will turn with compassion for all human suffering and help us understand that He has permitted these events for a greater good.