MANILA, Jan. 18, 2017 – With Europe fast becoming a hotbed for religious intolerance and discrimination, Europeans are pointing to the Divine Mercy for being the force that challenges them to continue proclaiming Jesus in an increasingly secular society.
“In France … now Catholics are persecuted because [of a] conception of life that is very, very against any religion,” said Myriam Michelin, a retired principal from the South of France, who was at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion yesterday, Jan. 17 for day 2 of the ongoing World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM) 4.
Citing Lingayen – Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas homily on the need to counter the “fear of opposition” in the name of mercy, the consecrated lay person who is based in Taiwan said French Catholics are challenged even more to stand by their faith.
‘God loves you’ stickers
“We should not be afraid to be in contradiction,” Michelin said of her country which has seen a rise in anti-Christian acts like the killing of French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel during morning Mass in July 2016.
According to her, more French Christians are also responding to the Divine Mercy by rediscovering the power of silence.
“I think the strong discovery of what the bishop said today in his homily is to be quiet, be still to pray, and let God come into you. That is the point,” explained Michelin.
For 22-year old Maria Lechner, Austria’s anti-Christian environment is perfect for her own personal New Evangelization initiative of “God loves you” stickers.
“Also in our place it’s very difficult to show to the people around you that you are Christian, that you are Catholic…I think it is always the best to be like a model, to live freely,” said the nurse who brings stickers to give away to strangers she meets everyday as a conversation-starter about the faith.
The great message
Lechner, who is attending WACOM4 together with 47 other delegates from all over Austria, stressed how important it is to “show the love and the greatness of God in [one’s life].”
“In our place, we can do many things. There are many people who do not believe in God now…And I like to tell them always that God loves them that God is mercy to them. He forgives them all their sins. And this is a great message you should tell everybody,” she stressed.
An estimated 5,000 WACOM 4 delegates from Indonesia, France, UK, Canada, Fiji, Italy, Brunei, Austria, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea gather for day 3 of the international event on Jan. 18 at the National Shrine and Parish of Padre Pio in Batangas. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCPNews)