Fr Chito Soganub on Red Wednesday: Persecution strengthens us
MANILA, Philippines – Father Teresito "Chito" Soganub, the Marawi priest once held hostage by the terrorist Maute Group, led the observance of Red Wednesday at the Manila Cathedral on Wednesday, November 28.
Red Wednesday is an annual commemoration of persecuted Christians around the world. On this day, Catholic participants wear red and light their churches in the same color – the color of martyrdom.
At the Manila Cathedral, Catholics observed Red Wednesday through a 6:30 pm Mass presided by Soganub and other priests. The Mass ended with prayers outside the Manila Cathedral, which was lit up in red and surrounded by the faithful holding candles, around 8 pm.
In his homily, Soganub recounted his 116 days in captivity from May 23 to September 26, 2017, at the hands of Maute terrorists who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).
"You cannot do anything except to pray," he said of his experience. "I could not see the presence of God because fear swarmed me, because imminent death and the trauma are covering my eyes not to see the wonders of God." (READ: Marawi priest Chito Soganub says captivity a 'test of faith')
But Soganub said persevering in persecution can also inspire others.
"Even if we are persecuted, we do not lose hope. We do not lose faith," Soganub said. "Persecution strengthens us. Persecution purifies us."
Red Wednesday was launched by the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to raise awareness about persecuted Christians.
ACN Philippines cited a study by the Center for New Religions, saying more than 90,000 Christians "were murdered in 2016." The group said this "is equivalent to one Christian being murdered for the faith every 6 minutes."
"Red is the color of martyrdom in the Christian faith. The Red Wednesday campaign will shine a light on religious persecution and will honor all Christians who have suffered and died for Christ," ACN Philippines said on its website. – Rappler.com