In the Archdiocese of Dhaka, Catholics welcomed into their community five converts who were baptised on Easter night at the church in Utholi (pictured), Manikganj district.”I am very happy, because from now I can pray to the true God, who died for us on the cross,” a 23-year-old woman said. Like the others who were baptised, she has had to overcome many obstacles to become a Christian and now risks being killed by radical Muslims.
Still, many dangers hang over converts in Utholi. “Last November, we baptised 12 former Muslims. Since then they have received death threats. Some of the parishioners come to church wearing a burqa, so as to confound Islamic fundamentalists.”
A young man who was baptised recently was the latest victim of violence. “Three masked individuals attacked him on his way home from the church. He was beaten and had to be hospitalised. Later he found shelter for a month in the parish building. He has put his life at risk by changing religion.”
The priest notes that the Catholic community has relations with local imams and Islamic leaders. However, some radical Muslim groups do not tolerate the presence of Christians. Father Thomas has called on everyone to pray for them.
In Bangladesh, where Sunday is not a holiday, Easter will be celebrated as a holiday for the first time in 30 years.
This was largely the effort of Gloria Jharna Sarker, the first Catholic woman parliamentarian chosen in the last elections who fought to have the rights of the Christian community recognized at the national level, reports AsiaNews.
On Easter Sunday, April 21, all schools in the country will remain closed. Welcoming the good news, local Christians say it is a positive sign of good relations between religions.
A Dhaka merchant explained to AsiaNews that since independence gained in 1971, Sunday was a holiday, including Easter Sunday. However, Sunday ceased to be a holiday since the mid-1980s, when former president Hussain Muhammad Ershad introduced the Islamic tradition making Friday the weekly holiday. “In this way, the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ was excluded from the nationally recognized festivities ”.
It is not known whether this will happen in the years to come but this year Christians have welcomed it with joy.
Last Monday, Notre Dame’s forest caught fire, incinerating the central spire and most of the cathedral’s roof in a disaster that dismayed the world. Notre Dame, with its limestone facade and stained-glass rose windows, was a resplendent jewel of medieval architecture to most who saw it. On closer inspection, according to church officials, contractors and donors, the cathedral was deteriorating from decades of neglect.
“For sure if the cathedral had been maintained regularly, with a higher level of funding, we would have avoided this,” said Michel Picaud, senior adviser to The Friends of Notre Dame. “The more you wait, the more risks you have.”
The flying buttresses represented the greatest structural risk, according to fundraisers. Church officials wanted to tackle the spire first. “The spire was the most urgent thing,” said Mr. Finot, the spokesman. “It’s made of lead, and the lead was disappearing.”
The spire presented unique challenges. Scaffolding needed first to reach the cathedral’s roof, 50 meters off the ground, and then rise another 50 meters to the top of the spire, encircling the ornate structure without touching it.
On April 15, a dozen workers from Le Bras Freres were working on the scaffolding, according to Mr. Eskenazi. The last one on the site left at 5:50 p.m., turning off the electricity, locking the door and giving the key to a church official in charge of the building, Mr. Eskenazi said. About half an hour later, the first fire alarm went off.
Last week’s heartbreaking fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris seemed to bring the world together in stunned grief. And coming at the beginning of Holy Week, when Christians worldwide mark the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the symbolism was almost too much to bear. I confess that I wept when I watched this ancient church be consumed by fire.
As the smoke poured from the medieval stone cathedral, flames leapt from the wooden roof and, in perhaps the most terrible moment, the ornate metal spire collapsed like a cinder, it was hard for many of us not to think of the suffering and death of Jesus. During his public crucifixion, just as yesterday, crowds of people looked on in horror—feeling powerless, overcome with grief and wondering what they could possibly do.
Among those people was Jesus’ mother, Our Lady: Notre Dame. Our Lady knows exactly what it is like to stand by and see someone you love suffer and die.
But Our Lady also knew that, somehow, God was with her in that time of grief. But we could well ask: Where was God yesterday in Paris?
St. Edmund, whose name means “blessed protection”, was probably born in 841. He lived during one of the most troubled periods of early English history, when hordes of Danish pirates were devastating English kingdoms one after another, burning churches and monasteries, ravaging them, murdering Christians and all inhabitants. According to tradition, Edmund was called to the throne of East Anglia by the kingdom’s people in this critical period. He landed from exile (according to one of the versions of his life) at St. Edmund’s Point near Hunstanton in Norfolk in 855, praying to God to give His blessing on him and his fellow countrymen. Then Edmund proceeded to the royal palace at Attleborough in Norfolk where he officially staked his claim to the throne.
For a year young Edmund was instructed in Attleborough by Bishop Humbert of Elmham (who would also be martyred by the Danes). It was said that within one year he then learned all the Psalms of David by heart, and this Psalter was kept as a relic until the Reformation. The people saw in him their only hope to preserve their small Christian state. On the day of Nativity of Christ, December 25, 855 (or 856), the 15-year-old Edmund was crowned and anointed King of East Anglia. The following years showed that the people’s choice was providential: not only did Edmund become an exemplary and devout king, but he came to be a true national hero and a holy man.
Edmund was tall, with fair hair, well-built and with a particular majesty of bearing. He was a wise and honest man, pious and chaste in all his deeds. In all things he always strove to please God and by his pure life and glorious works he won the respect of all his subjects. Edmund was very meek and humble: he knew that, becoming a king, he could never be conceited with his countrymen, but should only be on a par with everybody in the kingdom. Edmund was protector of the Church and a shelter for orphans, was generous to the poor and cared for widows like a loving father. All who pleaded to him for justice received help.Read More »
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” ~ C.S. Lewis