A Time of Martyrs

Lucas Cranach the Elder. Beheading of John the Baptist. 1515.

Lucas Cranach the Elder. Beheading of John the Baptist. 1515.

I said to some priest friends at dinner tonight that after I was ordained nearly seven years ago, whenever I preached about martyrdom I would do so in terms of “white martyrdom” (suffering for the faith, not dying for it), saying that it would probably not happen to us that we would ever face “red martyrdom” (dying for the faith).

Well. How times have changed.

The image of the 21 Egyptian Christians forced to kneel on the beach before being decapitated is forever seared into my mind. And then… to hear the reports of how some of them were calling out the name of Jesus before they were killed! Thanks be to God! I hope I would be able to respond the same way in such a situation… but I fear I would shrink back in cowardliness. May God give me the grace.

(NB: I have not watched the video footage of the slayings, and will not watch it.)

So it seems that “red martyrdom” is much more a reality of our time than many of us previously thought. Look at how much has changed in such a short time in our world. Here in Alabama, for example, where I live, one of the last states where one would expect to find gay “marriage”, it has recently been forced upon us by judicial fiat. Seven years ago that was hardly on the radar either.

What is coming next? What is awaiting us here, in the United States of America? Only God knows. But we would do well to pray seriously, and ask the Lord for the grace to withstand whatever may be required of us to give him glory and fulfill his plan for us. He has chosen us to live in this time and place, and he will give us the graces that we need to do so well.

A blessed Lent to all!

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