The Martyrs of Uganda, whose feast we celebrate tomorrow, were among the very first converts to Christianity in their country during the Nineteenth Century. Of those whose names we know, 23 were Anglican and 22 Catholic. Most of them were young pages in King Mwanga’s court. Mwanga had a habit of sexually abusing boys and when this group of his servants refused to submit to him his anger eventually boiled over into ordering their cruel death by burning.
The young men went bravely to their martyrdom. Because they were united in knowing about and opposing the king’s abusive behaviour, they were better able to withstand it, even at such great cost.
The great missionary pope, Benedict XV, beatified the Martyrs. Paul VI canonised them, remembering the Anglican as well as the Catholic. All died for the faith. Perhaps it is time to recognise these brave young men as the patron saints of people who suffer sexual abuse. If the Church thus openly celebrated those who oppose the abuse of power, of intimacy and of the human body, it could come closer to ending this cancer.
Meanwhile, I invite you to read this powerful post from a blogger known as Dixi.
Altar Cross, St Mary Magdalene, Davington, Kent. MMB
I wrote in the first blog in this series (December 13th, 2015) that we might need a stimulus from outside to grow our childish faith to adulthood as our bodies and minds mature. Therese showed us that. (December 30th, 2015) But we have to be open to growth for it to happen properly. Normally teenagers grow physically into adults without having to think about it, though some will diet to control or arrest the process. Great distress may be caused to themselves and others.
It can be all too easy to feel uncomfortable in one’s own skin if it is spotty or showing ribs or else not showing ribs. Growing in faith can be subject to similar pressures and embarrassments.
But as Pope Francis said on January 8th:
When we have something in our hearts and we want to ask the Lord forgiveness, it is he who awaits us to give forgiveness. This Year of Mercy is also a bit like this: We know that the Lord is waiting for us, each one of us. Why? To embrace us; nothing more. To tell us: ‘Son, daughter, I love you. I let my son be crucified for you; this is the price of my love.’ This is the gift of love.
God will do the same that he did with the prodigal son who spent all his money on vices: He will not let you finish your speech, he will silence you with a hug. The embrace of the love of God.
May we learn to accept and return that embrace from whomsoever God uses to show us his love. And may we be ready for the next person who needs the embrace of a real hug or else a cup of tea or even a smile.