BRAVERY UNDER FIRE
This is the title of a Film made to tell the extraordinary story of an Irish priest who died as a British army chaplain in the First World War.
Last Thursday, Campbell Miller, director of the film, presented a copy to Pope Francis to be screened in the Vatican, days later.
The film depicts how Jesuit Fr Willie Doyle repeatedly risked his own life to save others during some of the war’s bloodiest battles.
This film title should strike a cord in the heart of anyone concerned about the plight of persecuted Christians and the Priests/Religious who risk their lives to serve the pastoral and material needs of the flock entrusted to them in those dangerous situations.
Today, in some parts of the world, being a priest or a religious remains a dangerous task – earlier this year four nuns in Yemen were murdered, while a number of priests and bishops have been killed in Syria, likewise in Iraq, Nigeria, Mexico among many other Countries.
Speaking about the situation in Iraq, Sr Suhama Tams said, “It is our job to be with our people. I don’t believe it will happen, but should the day come on which every last Christian leaves Iraq: we priests and nuns will be the last to leave.”
Many priests remain at their mission posts at risk of their own lives, in the midst of war or the threat of violence by armed groups. They are on the spiritual battlefront, risking everything for Christ, in order to proclaim the Gospel to the people.
They give care to their faithful in critical situations caused by natural catastrophes or political upheaval. In times of tribulation and need the people seek refuge in churches and help from their priests – as for example the refugees in Nigeria who have fled from Boko Haram, or those in the Central African Republic and Sudan who have been forced to flee their homes because of the crises there. Or again the people of Venezuela, where the rate of inflation has reached 13,800%. In all these situations the priests share what little they themselves have with those who have lost everything.
One of the most frequent concerns expressed to Aid to the Church in Need by Bishops from around the world is for material support towards the livelihood of Priests.
From now till November, ACN (Malta) is requesting for Mass offerings to contribute to the livelihood of the Priests who perform pastoral work among the poor and persecuted Church.
As recognized by the Church, November is a month to pray for the faithful departed. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 1032, “From the beginning, the Church has honoured the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends alms-giving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead”.
Masses may be offered for loved ones, living and dead.
The Masses will be celebrated for the intentions of our kind benefactors, while offerings made will help them carry out their priestly ministry in these difficult and dangerous circumstances.