The following comes from a July 6 Catholic News Agency article:

As church leaders rallied U.S. Catholics to defend their faith against an increasingly antagonistic society and government, the relics of Blessed Oscar Romero and St. Junipero Serra made an appearance at the Los Angeles cathedral.

“We are living in challenging times. Our society and our culture are becoming more and more secularized,” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said July 1. “Sadly, also sometimes, our government is becoming more antagonistic. Sometimes we see policies that are trying to make us compromise our beliefs or deny the commandment that Jesus gives us to love and serve our neighbors,” Archbishop Gomez said during Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

The persecution of Christians in Iraq and Syria was on the mind of Archbishop Gomez. He prayed that the saints intercede for them “to give our brothers and sisters courage and hope.”

“What we are experiencing today — in our country and in the world — is something that the martyrs and saints have always taught us. And that is: that discipleship has a price. The freedom to follow Jesus Christ is not free,” he said. To follow Jesus means to share in his mission to spread “the good news of God’s mercy and salvation.”