Summary: Xenophobia destroyed the Jews in Nazi Germany; we must not let it stand in the way of our mission.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross–August 9, 2010

You Shall Be My Witnesses

Here at the beginning of August, the Church gives us feasts that are pointed reminders that Jesus, who predicted His own assassination, was not the last Christian martyr, only the first. I’ve often commented at the outsized number of deacons represented in just one week–four deacons martyred with St. Sixtus on Saturday, St. Lawrence tomorrow. Today it’s Edith Stein–whose Carmelite name was Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Ironically, she is the proof that Pope Pius XII was correct in not taking stronger public stands against the Nazis’ anti-Jew policies. The bishops of the Netherlands did take a strong public stand, and within a week Sr. Teresa, her sister, and thousands of other Jews or Christians of Jewish heritage were rounded off and sent to concentration camps for execution. I suppose the Nazis give us the worst example of xenophobia in history.

Archbishop Gomez, as he reminds us not to neglect to tell others that in Jesus Christ “they can find the answers to their questions about the fundamental meaning of existence and the purpose of life.” (28)

Of special importance in evangelization are two groups. The first will occupy our attention briefly today–Hispanic immigrants. Growing numbers of them “are in danger of drifting from the Catholic faith to other religions or no religion at all.” As they begin a new life in the U.S., whether they are documented or not, they are usually poor and under great personal stress. Their task of assimilation is difficult. It was prescient of Fr. Leopold and Fr. Tony to begin a Spanish Mass here in the parish, and more recently to have faith formation classes in Spanish. But secularization is their deepest problem–trying to fit into a culture that is actively anti-religious and anti-Catholic. The faith must not only shape their perspective on the world but also compel allegiance and devotion to Christ and the Church through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. We need to be alert to ways to aid them in this process, and to bring them closer to the full heritage of the Church.

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