Imagine trying to live out your faith in a place where it’s against the law. Where crosses, Bibles, and rosaries could get you arrested. Where discussing your beliefs with others is a crime, and praying with other people is forbidden. A place where showing any sign of your Christianity in public makes it permissable for other people to beat you. Imagine living like the First and Second Century Christians, but in the modern world.
This is the reality for the estimated 1.5 million Catholics living in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi kingdom’s law is the Quran. So for the foreign nationals and Saudi converts living there, living and practicing their faith can be a very real invitation to martyrdom.
From Timothy and Titus’s post “Living in Secret As A Catholic in Saudi Arabia”:
It is hard to be a lay Catholic in Saudi Arabia because you have to have a very deep background in your faith. You cannot have copies of the Gospel in your home. You cannot have a rosary. You cannot have contact with your Christian friends as a community; you can have Christian friends, you can frequent the foreign communities but you are prohibited from talking about your faith. So the only possibility is to have a strong awareness and knowledge of your faith that you can bank on in this environment. … So you are a community by yourself. Usually you do not even have your own family because Saudi Arabia has restrictions on family reunification. If you have a daughter who is more than 18 years of age, she cannot stay in Saudi Arabia if she is not married. So most have their families somewhere else. So you are alone and with no contact to other Catholics, which is very hard, and so you have to have the strength of faith in your heart; to be able to pray with out the prayer books, to just know and pray the prayers you have learned by heart from your childhood.
So where do they find the spiritual sustenance that they need? On the air. The radio and television programs which are allowed in other countries cannot be silenced completely in Saudi Arabia, because the government hasn’t yet found a way to silence the airwaves.
For this any many other reasons, the people who make Catholic radio and television are our Conspirators of the week. They bring the Light of Christ and His Church to people who would have no other way to see or hear it. For those whose “parish” is carried in on airwaves and must be heard in secret, Let Us Pray.
By Photo Claude TRUONG-NGOC (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons