Christian discipleship calls us to be witnesses to Jesus, dying to ourselves so that Christ’s love can be made known. Sometimes these acts of witness are small, and other times they cost us more, but our witness is always outward-looking, making Christ more credible to a sceptical world.
Recently, Joseph Cardinal Coutts, Archbishop Emeritus of Pakistan, visited Melbourne with Regina Lynch, International Director of Projects for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The two of them have been travelling Australia, raising awareness of Christian persecution globally. It was a privilege to sit down with them, hear their stories and listen to some of the amazing work ACN is doing around the world. As well as being an advocate of interfaith dialogue, Cardinal Coutts is a powerful witness of the need to work tirelessly for love and justice, even in the face of hatred, discrimination and persecution.
In line with this, ACN has recently released Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith 2020–22, highlighting the growing persecution of Christians worldwide. The report includes information from ACN and other local sources, first-hand testimony, compilations of incidents, case studies and a country-by-country analysis of the extent to which Christians are targeted around the world. With Red Wednesday today, it’s a good opportunity to brush up on our knowledge of what’s happening in the Church globally and to keep our brothers and sisters in our prayers.
On Saturday 19 November, six men gave witness to their faith through ordination. With great joy, Melbourne received three new transitional deacons and three new priests in a beautiful Ordination Mass. Archbishop Peter A Comensoli thanked the men for their witness and their willingness to be instruments of Christ’s grace, reflecting on the virtues needed to serve the Lord in these vocations.
Great works of art are a unique and beautiful way to witness to our faith. Recently, artist and restorer of religious art Joseph Giansiracusa passed away in Melbourne at the age of 76. Convinced that statues and other works of art can raise our hearts and minds to God, he used and shared his skills to foster a passion for the sacred in God's people, leaving a beautiful legacy. Bernadette Thorley pays tribute to a gentle and generous craftsman.
Finally, this coming Sunday is the beginning of Advent, when the Church year resets and we begin the liturgical cycle again. On the path of Christian discipleship, we often need these opportunities to slow down and start over, to find renewal, to come home again. But with all the hectic activity that the end of the year brings, Advent isn’t always a season we observe with care and attention, so we offer you our Advent ‘guide for the perplexed’—a chance to refresh our understanding of what this season is all about and how to engage with it more deeply.
We hope you will be inspired by the stories we’ve shared this week, of those whose lives are a living witness to Christ’s goodness and love. May they move us to surrender more deeply to Christ’s love, so that through him we may be faithful and fruitful witnesses of him to the world around us.