14 Sep THE MARTYRDOM OF TODAY (B)
After Stephen: St Peter, St Paul, and St James the Apostle were all martyrs, and following them a “great cloud of witnesses”. In the liturgy of the Church, special honour is given to the Virgin Martyrs who are models of both the virtues of chastity and courage. Surely, let us be mindful of the martyrs of the Church, their lives encourages us and gives us hope. Many in our society today are undergoing martyrdom daily in their lives. This could either be at our various places of apostolate, community, family, college, workplaces, and mission field.
Hello Brethren, distinctively referenced above is an excerpt of my prior article, “The Martyrdom of Today (A)”. The question we would be asking ourselves, thusly, is not far-fetched from: Oh, what inspiration can we draw from our first martyrs of the Catholic Church? Huh, for what reason is so much attention given to virgin martyrs like Sts. Agatha, Agnes, Lucy, Maria Goretti, to mention just a few? What made these martyrs spectacular, such that, even till today they are not forgotten either by you or myself?
In this piece of writing, I would thereby invite you to journey with me as I uncover these issues with concrete-life-experiences.
To begin with is place of apostolate. Most of us here on earth are engaged in one apostolate or the other. Instead of using the term ‘apostolate’, some prefer to say ‘pastorals’. It is as well contingent on the context one is into, either of these two words can be used interchangeably. The poor, marginalized, homeless, mentally and physically disabled, the sick, and the youth at parishes are few places of apostolate one can think of. How many of us take this as an opportunity to have an encounter with the Society and God? Seldom does such come into manifestation? For the most part, what is realized here is the quick response to the little challenges or struggles of our time, place and people we meet. Brethren, apostolate is a great challenge to us precisely because it is a constant battle, both with and ourselves and between ourselves and the world to be won.
A community can simply be understood as a number of two or more living together under the same roof. This same community, on one hand, is about supporting each other and our chosen ministry, spending time together, sharing talents and resources, and dividing household duties. Truth be told, the rundown is perpetual. Brethren, other than these, there are struggles that each and every one of us faces when it comes to community. A few indications of martyrdom here are; foregoing one’s wants for the benefit of the other, reigning of insults and mockery from community members, accepting each other’s differences, thus, personality, temperaments and character, and above all adjusting to the rules of one’s community. In so doing, is this acceptance encompassed with compassion, fragility, and incompleteness for each other?
Brethren, the next point to show here is the family. I believe most of you would agree with me that the family is an essential agency to the formation of every individual in society. The basic human formation begins from home. In every family, there are seasons of bliss and there are likewise seasons of distress. The struggles faced by each and every member of the family might be that wellspring of unforeseen distress. Is there any family that does not undergo martyrdom? When I say martyrdom, I simply mean “witness” (as in Greek μάρτυς ‘martus’) of one’s Christian faith.
To be an undergrad has its own struggles as well. That is to say, to live a college life is interesting I should say. I have been through it and I know what it takes to be one. It is a life that entails two sides of the coin. That is, the joyful and the sorrowful (struggling) part of it. By and by, how many of us know that each of these sides has a role to play in our lives? It may never occur to you at the beginning, but then, it becomes known as you journey through life.
Give me a chance to take a gander at the workplaces. It is often seen that each and every workplace in the society of today is typically an environment in which people with different personalities, communication styles, and worldviews interact. These differences are one potential source of workplace issues, and can at last lead to a number of conflicts all over for those involved. As an individual, we have the right to be treated fairly and to feel safe in the workplace. But then, what happens? Some of us tend to face harassment and all kinds of discrimination and even stress moments throughout everyday life. All for the sake of our unique nature. Has it always been that we run away from them? Especially when confronted with that? Reflect, reflect and reflect deep inside yourself; you would realize that such can be amazing at times.
Both the ancient and contemporary martyrs (saints) that can help us relate well are quite numerous. Nevertheless, for the purpose of this article, few are chosen for reflection.
St. John Bosco; a Holy One who in his early desired so much to be educated. But then, out of poverty, he was humiliated and reportedly whipped by his elder brother. He referred to John Bosco as “a farmer like us”. This made an imprint and influenced his lifestyle afterward i.e. he educated a lot both in body and soul united. St. Walter of Pontoise; an intelligent and devout one who had a passion to serve God and the Society. Life in his local community was appalling; such that he had to even run away several times to deal with the stress of the situation back then. All things considered, he battled and persevered with the situation as he returned to his abbot. St. Giles; this Holy One may not have been a martyr but, as the word martyr means, he was a true witness to the faith. Blessed Raymond Lull; he worked all his life to promote the missions and died a missionary to North Africa. One day a sermon inspired him to dedicate his life to working for the conversion of the Muslims in North Africa.
Brethren, at your leisure time, do not only hesitate to discover more and reflect on the above martyrs (saints) but then on the following as well: Fr. Jacques Hamel, Sr. Leonella Sgorbati, Felicitas, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, Gianna Beretta Molla, Kateri Tekakwitha, the Martyrs of Uganda, the 19 Martyrs of Algeria (esp. Frs. Alain Dieulangard, Charles Deckers, Christian Chessel and Jean Chevillard). In fact, the list is endless.
Brethren, the martyrs (saints) are our brothers and sisters in this world and our advocates and intercessors in the next. Bear in mind that, the struggles that each and every one of us here on earth is passing through; the martyrs of the Church have undergone more than that. And though most of us may not shed blood as the early martyrs did. Let’s be encouraged to live up to the task of His divine call.
May the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary, full of grace, all beautiful and pure, protect and guard us All!
A.J.M. Mausolfe & J.K. Mausolfe. Saint Companions: For Each Day. Revised and updated by, Ladislaus L. D’Souza. Mumbai: The Bombay Saint Paul Society, 1986.
Terence A, https://terenceaas.blogspot.com/2018/11/the-martyrdom-of-today-a.html Accessed on March 14, 2019.
Raphaël Deillon, The First Miracle of the Blessed Martyrs of Algeria in “Petit Echo” 2019/01 n.1097
September 13, 2019