Photo Credit: WCC
Together with millions of Catholics around the world, you and I awoke Easter morning celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, meanwhile fellow Catholics in Sri Lanka were killed and martyred as they attended Holy Mass in their parish churches. They were victims of Islamic terrorists. The news was shocking and as the death toll grew and the reports came in, it became evident that this was one of the most vicious attacks carried out in recent times. In fact, it was the largest terror attack on civilians since the assault on the Twin Towers in New York City on 9-11.
Upon hearing the news and seeing the horrible graphic pictures of death and destruction of holy places of worship, I was profoundly saddened and afflicted with the pain and suffering of my fellow Catholics. I immediately turned to prayer for these victims, especially turning to the Blessed Mother asking her to comfort them in their pain and sorrow.
At the same time, my thoughts immediately were of the message Our Blessed Mother gave at Fatima in 1917. She lovingly brought a message from God in Heaven that the world was not following His will. That is was profoundly decadent. She prophesied that if the world did not change its ways and turn back to God, it would suffer “wars and persecutions” and that the good would be “martyred.” That is what we saw in the Easter Sunday attacks. Faithful Catholics who died because of their faith!
The Secular World Press Underreports, Minimizes and Just Moves On.
ABC News via YouTube
While the secular world press is making it out as just an “incident,” it is a sinister escalation in attacks and acts of desecration on Catholic churches across Europe, the Middle East and the Christian world in general.
Make no mistake. Our Catholic brethren in Sri Lanka were murdered inside their local churches out of hatred of the Catholic Faith. To those living, the threat to their lives is so great that even as I am writing this e-mail, I received a news item reporting that Catholic leaders have suspended all Masses indefinitely for fear of more attacks.
In their World Edition, Fox News reported Sri Lankans must now attend Mass at home with churches closed after the bombings. From a small chapel, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, delivered a homily before his clergy and country's leaders expressing, “this is a time our hearts are tested by the great destruction that took place last Sunday,” Ranjith said. “This is a time questions such as, does God truly love us, does he have compassion toward us, can arise in human hearts.”
How Can Our Hearts and Prayers Not Go Out?
I can’t imagine not having Mass and not receiving Holy Communion for fear of being murdered by enemies of the Faith. God help our persecuted brothers and sisters!
With the responsibility as a Catholic leader and senior lay organizer here in the United States, together with you and thousands of Rosary Warriors, we must plan to act to honor these heroes of the Faith.
Doesn’t it seem the fire at Cathedral of Notre Dame is old news already? What about the years of genocide in Iraq and Syria; and, perhaps many are not aware that just a few months ago as many as 280 people in Christian communities in middle and northern Nigeria were killed in just the short period of time from February through March.
I am not trying to rekindle difficult news without purpose. We must not allow the highly secularized, frenetic world of 24-hour, 7-days a week, internet-driven, news cycle to cloud our vision and dull our sensitivity to what is happening to our Catholic brethren around the world and now in Sri Lanka. Quite to the contrary.
Our participation is important and urgent!
These modern martyrs for the Faith in Sri Lanka shall not be dismissed as an “incident or afterthought”!
The image online of proud parents standing with their daughter in her First Holy Communion dress just before the unthinkable happened crushed my spirit.
In an instant, that immaculate white dress symbolizing purity turned red, drenched with the innocent blood of martyrdom. God’s little angel, deprived of ever receiving the Body of Christ – a privilege reserved only for mankind, not even the angels can receive Communion since they are pure spirit – in an instant joined the Resurrected Christ in Heaven along with her parents.
How many opportunities of virtue for those Catholic souls to touch others through corporal and spiritual works of mercy -- even perhaps the conversion of the enemies who killed them -- cut short? What works for Our Lord’s glory will never be realized in eternity since His servants were abruptly cut down?
Photo Credit: Credit: CNN Newsource
Over 290 Catholic souls, each with a God-given mission here on earth, ruthlessly blown apart because they chose to follow the truth of the Catholic Faith. So many Catholic families lost to this heinous act.
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” ~ Tertullian, a Father of the early Church.
In fact, God bestows special graces to the Church through the blood shed by those killed out of hatred of Him.
For this reason, as the Founder and President of Catholic Action and lay leader of Operation Storm Heaven, I am giving the honorary title of Rosary Warrior to each of those who laid their life down for Christ. If praying the Rosary is powerful in storming Heaven with prayer, the sacrifice of these martyrs is monumental.
Through the communion of saints, let’s you and I join our prayers together with their intercession to redouble our spiritual effort to storm Heaven with prayer!
I Ask You Again, Now What?
As we spoke to our Faith Defender community and as I huddled with my team at Catholic Action, we thought:
- First, we’d pray for the intentions of those that lost a loved one in the bombings and for the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka during our worldwide Rosary on May 1st. But we felt it wasn’t enough.
- Second, we thought perhaps we can dedicate a month of intentions and a novena, but that wasn’t enough either.
- Then, we were inspired and decided,
On May 13th, Feast of the First Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, I am going to be at the Shrine in Fatima, Portugal to honor these fallen faithful on behalf of Cardinal Burke, leader of Operation Storm Heaven, and together with you and each person in the ranks of Operation Storm Heaven who choose to join together with me in spirit.
*Save the Date and Time! You can join in immediately by letting me know through the links on this page.
To honor the martyrs of Sri Lanka and persecuted Christians around the globe, I will be laying a wreath at the feet of the statute of Our Lady of Fatima at the actual site where Our Lady appeared to the three seers. This wreath will honor these fallen Soldiers of Christ.
On top of this, I have already spoken with his Eminence who has agreed enthusiastically to coordinate my delivery of this wreath with his celebrating Mass with the following intentions:
- For the repose of the souls of the those martyred in Sri Lanka and persecuted and displaced Christians in our world.
- For the attacks on sacred Catholic churches and cathedrals ‘Houses of God’.
- Through the spilt blood of the martyrs of Sri Lanka ask God to provide extraordinary grace to bring back to the Catholic Faith any family members of Operation Storm Heaven who have left the Catholic Church.
- To bless and protect all Rosary Warriors and intercede for their personal intentions.
- To beseech Our Lady of Fatima to stay the hand of God’s wrath while we gather together more Rosary Warriors to spread devotion to the Rosary for the conversion of sinners as she asked.
- To beseech God to restore His grace in the world today
As I type this message, my team is contacting the Archdiocese of Columbo in Sri Lanka and the office of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith to offer our deepest condolences and to ask for his intentions.