Day nine: Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness
Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023
22nd week in Ordinary Time
“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mt 5:10-12).
We conclude our novena before tomorrow’s beatification of the Ulma family in Markowa. At the end, we are left to contemplate the final beatitude of Jesus promised to those “who suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness.” This beatitude was lived to the full by the Ulmas at the hour of their martyrdom. It was the culmination of their earthly journey to the glory of heaven, in accordance with the spirituality of all Jesus’ beatitudes. As a result, they enjoyed the blessing of God already during their lifetime, while on their way to eternal blessing in heaven.
Today, we implore the same grace for ourselves, so that the path of the eight beatitudes may also become our path to the happiness of eternal life. This is possible thanks to Christ, for this path requires sacrifice, self-denial and taking up one’s cross, sometimes to the point of martyrdom. We learn this at every sacrifice of holy Mass. In humility, let us stand before this mystery of our paschal journey to the glory of heaven, apologizing to God for all our infidelities and sins.
– Our acknowledgment of Christ can give rise to resentment and intolerance, and we may run into various difficulties and grievances with other people. Whenever we experience such situations, let us unite in prayer with Christ so that he may “take them on himself” and thus share in the salvation of the world through sacrificial love.
– Our love for Christ will always be put to the test. And if we love him truly, nothing will separate us from him (cf. Rom 8:35). Let us rejoice before the Lord in every victory we have won over ourselves by being tested in our faith. Let us thank him that, supported by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have been able to bear genuine witness to the salvific power of Christ’s cross.
– Our strength in suffering for justice is the witness of the martyrs. Let us thank Christ for the martyrdom of the Ulma family. Laying down their lives for fidelity to the Gospel, they showed us that this is possible even in the most difficult circumstances of life. In prayer, let us invoke their intercession with God, so that we too may faithfully cling to Christ, his Gospel and the church until the end of our days on earth.
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The Archdiocese of Przemysl, Poland, prepared this novena to be prayed ahead of the Sept. 10 beatification of the Ulma family in Markowa, Poland. It was adapted from “To the Glory of the Altars along the Path of the Eight Beatitudes” by Father Stanislaw Herezga. The Holy See’s Dicastery for Communication provided the English translation. Find the entire novena here.
Images credit: From the archive of Mateusz Szptyma. All rights reserved.
Learn More About the Ulma Family
Under the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II, Jews were indiscriminately arrested, imprisoned, and killed. Christians who helped them hide or escape placed themselves in the same peril. Josef and Wiktoria Ulma, who, guided by the parable of the Good Samaritan, which was underlined in red ink in the family Bible, sheltered a Jewish family in their village of Markowa. As a result, in 1944, Josef, Wiktoria, and their seven small children – one not yet born – were murdered by the Nazis. This biography tells the story of the heroic virtue and sacrifice that lead to their beatification.