July 9 is the Feast Day of the Holy Martyrs of China
There are 120 martyr saints of China. One of them is St. Mark Ji Tianxiang. He was an opium addict. Not had been an opium addict. He was an opium addict at the time of his death. For years, Tianxiang was a respectable Christian, raised in a Christian family in 19th-century China. He was a leader in the Christian community, a well-off doctor who served the poor for free. But he became ill with a violent stomach ailment and treated himself with opium. It was a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but Tianxiang soon became addicted to the drug, an addiction that was considered shameful and gravely scandalous.
As his circumstances deteriorated, Tianxiang continued to fight his addiction. He went frequently to confession, refusing to embrace this affliction that had taken control of him. In spite of his fallenness, Tianxiang knew himself to be loved by the Father and by the Church. In 1900, when the Boxer rebels began to turn against foreigners and Christians, Tianxiang was rounded up with dozens of other Christians, including his son, six grandchilden, and two daughters-in-law. While Tianxiang was never able to beat his addiction, he was, in the end, flooded with the grace of final perseverance. No threat could shake him, no torture make him waver. He was determined to follow the Lord who had never abandoned him.
As Tianxiang and his family were dragged to prison to await their execution, his grandson looked fearfully at him. “Grandpa, where are we going?” he asked. “We’re going home,” came the answer. Tianxiang begged his captors to kill him last so that none of his family would have to die alone. He stood beside all nine of them as they were beheaded. In the end, he went to his death singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
St. Mark Ji Tianxiang is a beautiful witness to the grace of God constantly at work in the most hidden ways, to God’s ability to make great saints of the most unlikely among us. On July 9, the feast of the Holy Martyrs of China, let’s ask St. Mark Ji Tianxiang’s intercession for all addicts, that they may have the courage to be faithful to the Church and that they may always grow in their love for and trust in the Lord. St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, pray for us!
Thank you to all our volunteers for our very first Vacation Bible School on July 1st and the Fourth of July celebration. Thank you also to all who brought their family and friends to our church; both events helped to introduce our community to more people in the greater Atlanta area.
The hardest part of evangelization is attracting non-Catholics to come to an RCIA course. The Chinese Lay Missionaries Foundation has one lay evangelist serving in Taichung who has been very successful in attracting them: she had 30, then 40, then 50, then 59 baptisms over the last four years. This success was due to the fact that 70% of her catechumens were attracted by Catholics who belong to a prayer community which uses the “One-Brings-One” method. In the last nine months, Fr. Lou Aldrich worked with lay evangelists in Tainan and has formed four of these groups. On July 22-23, Fr. Aldrich will explain the successful method used in Taichung and he will share his experience in using this method in Tainan.