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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Meeting of the Parliament 29 November 2016

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism (European Union Referendum), St Andrew’s Day, Business Motion, Decision Time, Blood Donation


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. Our first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is Father Andrzej Halemba, who is the head of projects for the middle east with Aid to the Church in Need.

Ladies and gentlemen, on this day, 29 November, in 257 AD, St Saturninus, the first Catholic bishop of Toulouse, was martyred for his faith in Toulouse, France. On that day, the temple oracles accused him of having previously struck them dumb when he had walked past. They threatened him and told him to either offer a sacrifice to appease their deities or expiate this crime with his blood. His reply was his final prayer for the cross:

“I adore one only God, and to him I am ready to offer a sacrifice of praise.”

He was still alive when he had his feet tied and roped to a bull, which dragged him about the town until the rope broke. Two Christian women gathered up his remains—reminiscent of the two women standing by Christ as he was crucified—and ensured that he received a reverential burial. The saint now rests in the basilica of St Saturninus, Toulouse. He is the patron saint of Toulouse.

St Saturninus’s witness was an expression of his faith—an act of sacrifice and adoration to God. This is reflected in John, chapter 12, verse 24:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

In 2014, Pope Francis described Christ as

“the first martyr, the first ... faithful witness”.

He added that there are more such persecuted witnesses in the world today than there were in the first centuries of Christianity. The persecution of Christians is not a distant or historical series of events but a frightening reality for our brothers and sisters in Christ today. More Christians have been killed for their faith this century than in all the previous 19 centuries combined.

The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need asserts the validity of the estimate from Human Rights Watch observers that, of all religiously based persecutions worldwide today, 75 per cent are aimed against Christians. They are suffering discrimination and intimidation and are being kidnapped, tortured and killed. They are consoled by Matthew’s beatitudes, at chapter 5, verse 11:

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

What will you do to help your fellow Christians who are persecuted because of their faith? St Teresa of Ávila said:

“Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed.”

How will you put your prayer into action?