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Though for the weekend: Pray for persecuted Christians

By Fr Patrick McCafferty

For Christians of all traditions, the Lord's Supper is of immense importance.

For Catholics, it is the source and summit of the Christian life. In churches and Gospel halls, every Sunday, believers remember the Lord Jesus in obedience to His command: "This do in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19).

Whether we call this act of worship, the Mass, the Breaking of Bread, the Eucharist, or the Lord's Supper, we are united in "proclaiming the Lord's death until He comes"(I Cor. 11:26).

Eight years ago, on June 3, a young Iraqi priest, Fr Ragheed Ganni, had just finished celebrating Sunday Mass in the city of Mosul.

He along with three sub-deacons were approached by terrorists who berated him for not closing the church and moving out of the city.

Fr Ragheed replied: "How could I close the House of God?"

He and the sub-deacons were then shot dead.

Fr Ragheed and his community had been suffering violence and terror for quite some time.

Just before his death, he wrote in an email: "Each day we wait for the decisive attack, but we will not stop celebrating Mass; we will do it underground, where we are safer.

"I am encouraged in this decision by the strength of my parishioners.

"This is war, real war, but we hope to carry our cross to the very end with the help of Divine Grace ... The Eucharist gives back to us the life that the terrorists seek to take away."

Many of our brothers and sisters today - in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and many other places - cannot meet in safety on the Lord's Day.

They risk their lives to gather around the Risen Lord whose love for us is stronger than death and terror.

As we meet this weekend in our various churches, let us remember persecuted Christians. Let us thank the Lord for their witness even to the shedding of their blood for the Gospel.

May their courage inspire us to be faithful to Jesus in every circumstance.

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