When I heard of the atrocities happening in Mosul this past week, I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. This is happening in our world today? I know there are bad things happening all of the time. I know there is evil. But I couldn’t wrap my mind around such brutality, such fierce evil.
After the initial shock and sending up prayers, I kept thinking, “What else can I do about this? How can little, insignificant me help these vulnerable people?” Thankfully The Anchoress already wrote up five ways we can do something. And we should do them, ever single one of them.
But then there was another thing that kept coming back to mind. I read this:
Not only was he forced to deny his faith, he still suffered death. And I think of my patron, Joan of Arc, who, agreed to abjure, though she later rescinded.
When I was younger I was filled with zeal for my faith. In my youth I knew that I would say yes to martyrdom. I might have even prayed for the grace to be a martyr, to prove my love to Christ. I look back at that zeal and though, still faithful to Christ and the Church, I am not as ‘excited’ about the thought of martyrdom as I was years ago. It’s difficult enough for me to hold my tongue when someone cuts in front of me or remain patient when waiting for someone for more than five minutes. So much for martyrdom! What makes me think that I could have the strength, courage and faith to endure what so many Saints have done before us? I believe that there is grace present in martyrdom, but there is also cooperation with that grace.
In my youth I was certain that I would have the strength and faith needed, but now I don’t know what I would do. I would hope that I would not denounce Christ. I pray for the grace and faith to remain steadfast. But I can’t really say. Just like one can’t really say what they would do when they face any trial.
When I was a teenager, I was the first responder to a car accident. I reacted a lot more calmly and systematically than I ever thought I would, especially at the young age of 17. But three weeks ago when a hornet’s nest went ballistic on my two nieces, my nephew, and me, I was in a complete panic, screaming, “Run for your lives, run as fast as you can!” while grabbing the youngest. When I got inside the house I threw the kid down and in a barely coherent manner yelled for my sister’s help. I could have handled the situation a lot better than I did. But it just goes to show, you don’t know what you will do in certain circumstances.
A few years ago a friend of mine told me that Francis Cardinal George, was quoted as saying:
“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/tim-drake/the-myth-and-the-reality-of-ill-die-in-my-bed#ixzz3A7E9YM1o
If martyrdom does not happen in our lifetime, it very well could for our children or grandchildren. It’s a serious thing to consider and makes me want to pray more and grow closer to Christ in the Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist. It also makes me want to teach the children around me and help them to grow in their faith.
Pondering the idea and the possibility of martyrdom also reminds me to die to myself daily. Each day there are ways I can be a little martyr to my selfishness, my pride, my sin that goes before me. Perhaps by learning to do so, if faced with the possibility of martyrdom, we may then have the strength and faith to unequivocally proclaim Christ and die for him.
Read the Anchoress’s post; fast, pray, write and give. But also pray that our brothers in sisters in Christ, those being persecuted mercilessly at the hands of Satan may have the strength and faith to give the supreme witness to the truth of the faith.