"Brethren, I , a prisoner of the Lord, exhort you to walk
in a manner worthy of the calling in which you are called."
In this country where we enjoy the freedom of our religion, we often forget that there are other countries in the world where people are not free. There are countries where children cannot go to church, where they cannot\ attend their own schools, where they must suffer for their faith.
An evil government will always persecute the Church. The Roman Empire did it in the days of St. Paul. He was imprisoned, and yet from his prison cell, he wrote fearlessly. Paul accepted prison willingly to defend his faith.
In our own day, and at this very moment, in Jugoslavia, there is another prisoner of the Lord. Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac was imprisoned by the Tito government for his
defense of his faith. Even now while you enjoy freedom of religion he is suffering for his faith. He is condemned to sixteen years of hard labor. The archbishop is not complaining. His faith is too strong for that. He knows that his sacrifices make h im dear to the heart of every Catholic in the world, because the Church does not belong to one city or country, but to the whole world and to every part of it.
I am not telling you any story this morning. But I am asking that the children of this parish remember Archbishop Stepinac in their prayers. Pray that he may be strong and stay strong. He needs prayers and he will be eternally grateful to every child who remembers him in his difficult hours.
Sometimes when you are tempted to say that it is hard to be a Catholic, that it is difficult to live up to the laws of the Church, that it is burdensome to keep the Ten Commandments, that it is tiresome to keep praying; remember Archbishop Aloysius Stepinac, who is undergoing sixteen years of hard labor in prison because of his Catholicism, and draw strength from that. If he can be strong, so can you. He must and so must you.
If Archbishop Stepinac were to write a letter from Jugoslavia to the children of this parish, I am sure that he would tell you to be strong in your faith and I am sure that he would quote the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians, "Brethren, I , a prisoner of the Lord, exhort you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling in which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, careful to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace: one body and one spirit, even as you were called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all , who is above all, and throughout all, and in us all, who is blessed for ever and ever."
Source: Heirs of the Kingdom, Imprimatur 1949