Tuesday, February 3, 2009

St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr

I often tell congregations, when I get to preach on the feast of a martyr, that martyrs do not suddenly decide to start witnessing to the Lord unto death. They do not suddenly find themselves in conflict with the enemies of the Gospel. Long before they are called to make the ultimate sacrifice they witness to Christ on a daily basis, living the Gospel whole-heartedly. I have by my bedside an old booklet, lent me by a fellow Capuchin, on the mother of Maria Goretti and her account of her daughter. Maria lived her faith with total devotion, despite her few years and in the face of continuous attempts to get her to compromise that faith, long before she was finally attacked and killed. Blaise was no exception. He too lived the Gospel first before he gave his life for it. The martyr is an exile from the world long before his or her body leaves it. As our world changes, recession bites, governments enact unjust, and evil laws, intruding on privacy or using public funds to promote the destruction of life we too are called to stand up for Christ on a daily basis, to witness to Him. Maybe, one day, we may be asked to give the ultimate witness. Less than 200 years ago priests were hunted here in Ireland and Catholicism was a repressed faith. People gave their lives for it. Are we to be the generation that fails the test?

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