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Nov 01, 2023 611 Shalom Tidings
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This Saint Died as an Opium Addict

The Chinese Boxer Rebellion in the 1900s killed nearly 32,000 Chinese Christians and 200 Western Missionaries. Among these devoted Christians who gave their life for their faith, Saint Mark Ji Tianxiang stands out because, at the time of his death, he was an opium addict who had not received the Sacraments for 30 long years.

Ji was raised in a devout Christian family, and he was a respected and charitable doctor in his community. Fate be blamed, the opium he took to abate a disturbing stomach ailment took hold over him, and he was addicted to it in no time. 

Though he went to frequent Confession, Ji found himself in the grips of a powerful addiction that refused to succumb to any means of resistance. His parish priest and confessor eventually told him that he could not continue to repeat the same sin in Confession anymore. Confession requires a conscious resolve to repent and sin no more, and this repeated sin, in the 19th century, was not understood as an illness. He was henceforth restricted from receiving the Sacraments, but he continued visiting the Church and stayed true to the Lord’s ways. He remained sincere to his faith because He believed in a Merciful Father. 

Many assumed that he would be the first to deny the Lord when faced with the threat of persecution. But along with his son, grandchildren, and daughters-in-law, he persevered till the very end. In fact, Ji provided spiritual consolation to his fellow Christians as they were imprisoned and awaiting execution. 

Stories record that as they were dragged to prison, his grandson, shaking with fear, asked him, “Grandpa, where are we going?” He calmly and jubilantly answered: “We’re going home.” He went to his death, singing the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope John Paul II canonized him in the year 2000. 

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