Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Station of the Condemned

"The frontier between Uzhorod and the Soviet Union is only 60 kilometers away--Whatever will be will be. My commitment is to my apostolic work precisely among them. I have no intention of running away--Besides, it would be no disgrace if they were to kill me. To die for Christ is to live for eternity". 
 --Blessed Theodore Romzha

Station of the Condemned
Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Shrine,
Youngstown, OH

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you;
because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.

    They brought charges against him, saying, "We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king."
    Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so."
   Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, "I find this man not guilty."
   But they were adamant and said, "He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to here." Lk 23:2-7

Among the tens of thousands of Christians condemned to death behind the Iron Curtain was Blessed Theodore Romzha, born in 1911 in a small village called Velykyy Bychkiv in the Transcarpathian region that is now a part of Ukraine. His region changed hands a half dozen times during his lifetime. He was drafted into military service for Czechoslovakia in 1937, a year after being ordained a Byzantine priest. After returning to the Transcarpathian region's Mukachevo Diocese (or Mukacheve, depending on the source) and serving as parish priest for several small churches and teaching philosophy at their seminary, he was elevated to Bishop of Mukachevo in 1944.

During the next three years, the Soviets persecuted, imprisoned and executed hundreds of Ukrainian priests and religious, and attempted to coerce the faithful into splitting with Rome. Romzha was also approached to break with Rome, and his reply was: "I'd rather die." After a failed assassination attempt (where he was nearly beaten to death with iron bars), he was administered a lethal injection by a mysterious nurse who was never seen again. Bishop Romzha's dying words were, "O Jesus..." It's rumored that his death was ordered by Nikita Khrushchev himself.

Within two years Ukraine ceded to the Soviet Union and the Church was forced underground.

Christ sacrificed His very life for His beloved. Do I love Him enough to do the same? 
How strong is my faith? 
Do I have the courage to defend my faith in the face of any kind of accusation?
Am I too afraid of being condemned by friends, acquaintances, coworkers or any member of society to speak up when my faith is challenged?

Lord Jesus, you filled Blessed Theodore Romzha with the courage to stand up for his faith, even unto his death. He understood that political and social orders come and go, but that the truth You've entrusted to Your Church will endure eternally. Fill us with the desire to learn Your truth, and bless us with the grace to live it lovingly and courageously.

   Pilate said to [Jesus], "Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?"
   Jesus answered (him), "You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin." Jn 19:10-11

To be a disciple is to courageously stand beside Our Lord and be condemned to death.

Blessed Theodore Romzha, pray for us.



Joyful Catholics said...

What a remarkabe blog and post! Thank you. We in America need a reminder and gratitude which materialism has robbes us, or rather our 'love for the world's riches' we've allowed to rob us. This is a timely find for me.

+God bless you+

Gina said...

Thank you for reading...I'm glad you were able to gain something from these posts. This Stations of the Cross series has been quite the labor of love. It's been difficult for me to complete, as the topic is so emotionally charged. Thank you for the support, you give me a little kick to keep working on it!

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