It has been said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.

Two page-one stories in this issue put that analogy into sharp focus: Peter Jesserer Smith’s portrait of the April 7 shooting death in Homs, Syria, of Jesuit Father Frans van der Lugt and Edward Pentin’s report on the move within the Holy See to add a prayer for persecuted Christians at the end of Mass.

Father van der Lugt, an elderly Dutch priest, was, by all reports, beloved in his adopted country. In addition to providing the sacraments to the dwindling number of Christians in Syria, he provided refuge from the warring factions.

It was in the early morning that a masked gunman took him out in the street and shot him twice in the head.

This incident — and the growing number of instances around the world in which the faithful are being persecuted for their faith — led to the proposal for the prayers after the conclusion of Mass. They would be similar to the devotional prayers of Pope Leo XIII ("Leonine prayers") from 1864-1965, which included the Prayer to St. Michael.

In these days, when many of us are far removed from the day-to-day struggles of our brothers and sisters in faith to just stay alive, we should always remember that we stand on the shoulders of the Church’s many martyrs. And they should never be far from our prayers.

God bless you!