On December 8, 2015, the feast of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis promulgated the Jubilee Year of Mercy in order to renew the Church’s awareness of God’s mercy and to remind Christians everywhere that, “The Church’s first truth is the love of Christ. The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of oneself. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy” (Misericordae Vultus, #12).
Creating these “oases of mercy” is no easy task, especially in Asian countries where the Church is small, poor, and often subject to violent persecution and discrimination.
Tribulations of the Asian Church
The following struggles are emblematic of much of the Asian Church. Although the struggles different countries face are various, suffice it to say that they all face some trials.
In Mongolia, Christians must be creative in their expressions of God’s mercy, as they are not allowed to profess their faith anywhere but on church premises. In Indonesia, Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies and pray for one’s persecutors takes on new significance as Christians risk violent persecution when they simply worship together on Sundays. And what about the street children in the Philippines, who must learn to forgive the parents who abused and neglected them?
In these dark places, the light of Christ’s mercy shining through the presence and deeds of missionaries is the only light by which millions of men and women are able to see a way out of violence, destitution, and despair.
The Fruit of God’s Mercy in Asia
Throughout the burgeoning Church in Asia, the Year of Mercy is bearing great fruit: the power of the Holy Spirit is working through the missionaries who consistently show even the most hardened skeptics that it is possible — even joyful — to be merciful like the Father.
In Mongolia, Catholics will soon be able to celebrate Mass with their first native born priest, to be ordained on August 28, 2016. This will enable the Church to grow even more, as only native born Mongolians are legally permitted to own land or run a religious organization.
Indonesian Christians face severe persecution and discrimination, and yet continue to boldly profess their faith. Over 8,000 have fled their homes due to persecution; yet the Church continues to welcome converts who would rather suffer with Christ than live safely without Him.
In Japan, the “evangelization of friendship” is bearing fruit, as young Japanese are coming to see — slowly, but surely — that there is an alternative to the meaninglessness of an atheistic, materialistic philosophy of life. Missionaries in Japan are living out Pope Francis’ call not only to practice the corporal works of mercy (feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, etc.), but also the spiritual works of mercy, particularly counseling the doubtful and instructing the ignorant.
Praying for the Church in Asia during this Year of Mercy
During this Year of Mercy, pray for the missionaries whose task it is to create “oases of mercy” in some of the most hostile spiritual environments in the world.
Pray for an End to Joblessness for Women and the Corresponding Sex Trade in Mongolia.
Pray for an end to joblessness for women and the corresponding sex trade in Mongolia. Even though the literacy rate is almost 100% in Mongolia, and women typically receive more education than men, the lack of meaningful work available to women leaves them vulnerable to human trafficking, homelessness, and hunger.
Pray for the Conversion of Heart of the Anti-Christian Muslims in Indonesia
Pray for the conversion of heart of the anti-Christian Muslims in Indonesia, as well as for the new president, Joko Widodo, that he would have the courage to enact and uphold laws that will protect the Christians from religious persecution. Pray also for the Christians who have been driven from their homes and tormented during worship, that they would have the grace to forgive their persecutors.
Pray for the Youth of Japan
Pray for the youth of Japan, that they would have open hearts and minds, willing to receive the light of Truth that comes from Christ. Most Japanese appreciate the beauty of the Catholic faith, but do not understand why anyone (unless he or she is destitute or sick) would spend time or energy pursuing a relationship with God. The missionaries in Japan need particular prayer for sustained hope in the face of such an intellectually and spiritually hopeless culture.
Pray for the Street Children of the Philippines
Pray for the street children of the Philippines, especially the boys living in the halfway house founded by Missionhurst priest Fr. Gerardo Costa. They need grace to forgive those who are responsible for their suffering, as well as hope for their futures.
Pray for our Missionhurst Missionaries
Last, but not least, pray for the Missionhurst missionaries who serve these young, vibrant, and suffering churches. Pray especially for our Missionhurst missionaries who are living out their call to bring the hope of Christ to some of the darkest places in today’s world. They are living reminders that, “The Church lives an authentic life when she professes and proclaims mercy — the most stupendous attribute of the Creator and of the Redeemer — and when she brings people close to the sources of the Saviour’s mercy, of which she is the trustee and dispenser” (St. John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia #13).
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