As people gathered to celebrate Easter in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday, a series of bombings ripped through several churches and hotels, killing many who had gathered to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection. With more than 300 dead and another 500 seriously injured, people around the world are grieving the violence that has once again been perpetrated against those in a house of worship.
Pope Francis concluded his Easter Urbi et Orbi address on Sunday by expressing his solidarity and sympathy for those affected by the bombings.
“I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community [of Sri Lanka], wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” he said.
The devastation of these coordinated attacks is almost unfathomable, as as place of worship on the holiest day of the year for Christians should be a place where people, young and old, can feel safe. It has been reported that there were threats of an attack in the weeks leading up to Easter, but that didn’t stop the Christian people of Sri Lanka from gathering to celebrate the Resurrection. Patrick Madrid, host of The Patrick Madrid Show reflected on the courage that the victims showed by going to church, despite the threats of attack.
“We can be easily fat and happy in this country, isn’t that true?,” he said. “Because we talk about religious liberty infringement and things, but we have it so easy compared to what other people are going through. Could you imagine going to Mass on Easter Sunday morning, knowing that there were jihadists in your midst who were saying that they were planning to do this, or something like this, and you go to Mass anyway?”
And it was not just the courage that the victims showed, but the courage that is now required for Christians in the area to continue to gather in worship, even after these traumatic events. Patrick asked, “Would you feel ambivalent going to Mass next Sunday, knowing that several parishes in your area had been suicide bombed? And maybe even some people that you know are now dead? Would you go to Mass?”
As we pray for the victims of these bombings, Patrick pointed out that the faith these victims showed should serve as an example to American Catholics, reminding us that we should treasure the faith we have been given, and not take for granted the relative ease with which the sacraments are made available to us.
“I think these are all things that we should be thinking about,” Patrick said. “Because it’s easy for us to become insulated with our own business, but also our own luxurious lifestyle here. We take for granted that the priests will be there to hear confessions and baptize our babies. And maybe if you and I were to think more about the people who don’t live that way, and yet they’re faithful Catholics, I think that can do a lot for all of us in terms of wanting to be better Catholics. Don’t you?”
During his show, Patrick mentioned that we should not only pray for the victims of the Easter bombings, but we should ask them to pray for us, too. He said, “The stories are truly heartbreaking. But, you know, we have more martyrs now. Not that we seek martyrs, but we are granted the privilege of having martyrs among us, just as happened in the early Church. And we should take care to pay attention to that.”
Patrick explained that, because of the timing and location of many of the bombs, one can presume that a hatred of Christianity was a motive in these bombings. And that means that the victims in Sri Lanka could be considered martyrs for the faith.
“There is a phrase in Latin that is odium fidei, which means hatred of the faith, referring to those who perpetrate the killing of Christians by martyring them,” Patrick said. “When they do so out of hatred of the faith, that’s what odium fidei means. That is a principal qualifier for somebody to be regarded as a martyr.”
“So our brothers and sisters around the world who are being slaughtered mercilessly by these maniacs in the name of religion and out of hatred for Christ in the Catholic Church and the Christian faith in general, I think these people qualify under that rubric,” he continued. “And whether the Church winds up canonizing them or not, we don’t know. But the main thing is that they’re showing by their example – their willingness to suffer if necessary for believing in Jesus.”
All you holy martyrs, pray for us!
Listen to the full discussion below: