I am at the beginning of hay season for the next week or so, which leaves me little time to write. However, this week, I have sensed Our Lady urging me to republish several writings, including this one…
WRITTEN ON THE FEAST OF ST. STEPHEN THE MARTYR
THIS past year has seen what Pope Francis has rightly called the “brutal persecution” of Christians, particularly in Syria, Iraq, and Nigeria by Islamic jihadists. cf. nbcnews.com; December 24th, Christmas Message
In light of the “red” martyrdom occurring this very minute of our brothers and sisters in the East and elsewhere, and the frequent “white” martyrdom of the faithful in the West, something beautiful is coming to light from this evil: the contrast of the witness of the Christian martyrs to that of the so-called “martyrdom” of religious extremists.
In fact, in Christianity, the word martyr means “witness”…
THE CHRISTIAN MARTYR-WITNESS
Religious extremists force others into their creed,
Christian martyrs invite others to live theirs.
Religious extremists kill others in “service” to their faith,
Christian martyrs give their lives for the faith of others.
Religious extremists strap bombs to themselves,
Christians martyrs fasten their wills to the Cross.
Religious extremists blow up others for the “glory of God”,
Christian martyrs serve others to the point of death for God’s glory.
Religious extremists demand allegiance, taxes, or one’s head,
Christian martyrs renounce their possessions and very lives.
Religious extremists pronounce others “infidels” as they slaughter,
Christian martyrs pronounce forgiveness of their executioners.
Religious extremists arm and train children for war,
Christian martyrs become like little children.
Religious extremists rape women and take them as slaves,
Christian martyrs die defending the dignity of the woman.
Religious extremists often take many wives as concubines,
Christian martyrs often take a vow of chastity.
Religious extremists burn churches, hospitals, and schools
Christian martyrs give their lives building them.
Religious extremists fast and pray to bring about the victory of war,
Christian martyrs fast and pray to end wars.
Religious extremists carry weapons,
Christian martyrs carry one another’s burdens.
Religious extremists cover their faces like cowards,
Christian martyrs boldly show the face of Christ.
Religious extremists take away the liberty and freedom of others,
Christian martyrs sacrifice themselves for the freedom of others.
Religious extremists grant clemency, only if one converts,
Christian martyrs claim Mercy as the reason for their conversion.
Religious extremists commit suicide for the pleasures of paradise,
Christian martyrs give their lives so that others may enter Heaven.
Religious extremists hate their enemies as a sign of their fidelity,
Christian martyrs love their enemies as a sign of their faith.
Religious extremists hold the sword as their banner,
Christian martyrs raise the Cross as their standard.
I wish to invite young people to open their hearts to the Gospel and become Christ’s witnesses; if necessary, His martyr-witnesses, at the threshold of the Third Millennium. —SAINT JOHN PAUL II to the youth, Spain, 1989
St. Stephen, pray for us.
“Father Forgive Them” by Russ Docken
First published December 26th, 2014. In memory of all those killed at the hands of terrorists…
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|1.||⇡||cf. nbcnews.com; December 24th, Christmas Message|