(Kirche in Not) On December 26, the feast of the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen, the Catholic Church in Germany observed a “Day of Prayer for Persecuted and Oppressed Christians”. On this occasion Aid to the Church in Need published a prayer card in postcard format that contains a prayer for the persecuted Church worldwide.
The prayer card is an initiative of the Bishop Emeritus of Augsburg, Germany, Bishop Viktor Josef Dammertz, and is intended as a supplement to the new edition of Gotteslob, a popular German-language prayer book and hymnal.
“Especially now it is important to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in the faith and to support them. For discrimination against Christians and persecution of them are increasing dramatically,” said the business director of Kirche in Not, Karin Maria Fenbert. “Disturbing reports reach us again and again about bishops, priests and religious whose congregations are exposed to violent encroachments and attacks.”
“Because of the current streams of refugees, there is again greater public awareness of the fates of many of these individuals. The persecuted Church today is right in our midst,” Fenbert explained. The “Prayer for the Persecuted Church” is meant to help support by prayer the oppressed Christians in their need and to encourage people to perform acts of solidarity.
The “Holy Year of Mercy” that has just begun may provide new incentive to do this. “After all, prayer and almsgiving are two of the works of mercy that Pope Francis is asking all believers to take especially to heart during this year.”
Join in the concerns of oppressed Christians
AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED has stood beside the persecuted and oppressed Church worldwide for more than six decades. Currently its efforts are focused on pastoral and material aid for needy Christians in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan. This relief agency invites readers to join themselves spiritually with the concerns of oppressed Christians—for example by reciting the “Prayer for the Persecuted Church”.
(Translated by Michael J. Miller)
A similar prayer in English is posted at the website of the United States affiliate of Aid to the Church in Need, www.churchinneed.org:
Prayer for the Persecuted
Father in Heaven, you make your sun shine
On bad and good alike.
Your son, Jesus Christ, died for us all,
And in his glorious Resurrection
He still retains the five wounds of his Passion.
With his divine power he now sustains
All those who suffer persecution and martyrdom
For the sake of their fidelity to the faith of the Church.
Merciful and mighty Father,
Do not allow Cain to return again to murder
Helpless Abel, innocent Abel.
May the persecuted Christians remain,
Like Mary, their Mother,
Together at the foot of the Cross
Of Christ the Martyr.
Comfort those menaced by violence
And those oppressed by uncertainty.
May your Holy Spirit of love
Make fruitful the witness and the blood
Of those who die forgiving.
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