Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To be a Martyr

by Mr. Lou Pizzuti, OP
(Originally published 13 November 2012 on http://ouronehope.blogspot.com/)

Cardinal George of Chicago has been quoted as saying that he expected to die in his bed, that his successor would die in prison, and that his successor would die a martyr in the public square.

In these times when the public - and particularly governmental - attitude towards Christians is increasingly hostile, it is possible that many of us may share in such a fate.

Yesterday was the feast of St. Josaphat, a Ruthenian Rite bishop and martyr of the 17th century.  Praying the Liturgy of the Hours last night, I found the antiphons particularly comforting.

  • "Men will hate you because you are mine, but he who perseveres will be saved." We will indeed be hated.  It has already begun.  But, if we want the prize - our salvation - we need to endure.  Never forget our Lord's words -Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • "The sufferings of this life cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us in the life to come." Reflecting on suffering recently, it occurred to me that it has two purposes.  The first, according to St. Paul, is that it "fills up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ" (Col 1:24).  But, suffering also has another purpose - it gives us the opportunity to detach ourselves from the things of this life, of this world, allowing us to focus on heaven.
  • "The Lord tested his chosen ones as gold tested by fire; he has received them for ever as a sacrificial offering." Why is gold tested by fire?  The impurities in gold come to the top so that they may be skimmed off, leaving behind pure gold.  Our testing results in our purity. 

My brothers and sisters, in the days ahead, when it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain your faith, remember this.

Take courage in the fact that, in persevering, you shall be saved.

Take courage in the fact that your suffering actually completes Christ's sacrifice in ways that we cannot know; and that your suffering gives you the opportunity to leave behind your attachments to sin.

Take courage that God is allowing your tested so that you may emerge pure.

Fill your Church with the Spirit
that gave Saint Josaphat courage
to lay down his life for his people.
By his prayers
may your Spirit make us strong
and willing to offer our lives
for our brothers and sisters.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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