See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Martyrdom



The ultimate sacrifice.
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Commenting on another post, a reader chided another commenter implying that there is something wrong with the desire for martyrdom, that it is somehow a selfish desire rending a person incapable of caring about anyone else.  What an incredibly twisted understanding of martyrdom.  Many of the early Christians considered their lives to be a preparation for martyrdom.   Self denial and following Christ along the narrow way is itself a sort of preparation for martyrdom.  The modern Christian can't be cheated of such an honor.  That is why the bishop used to slap us at our confirmation, to remind us of the difficulties of living and witnessing to the faith, even unto the possibility of martyrdom.  The  blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.  The martyrs are the furthest away from selfishness and apathy any human being could be.   St. Ignatius of Antioch begged his fellow Christians not to stop his martyrdom, writing, "If the lions don't want to eat my flesh, I will compel them to!"
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More relevant to our own day, I want to share the story of the Gorkum Martyrs, men who were tortured and mutilated before and after being hanged to death.  They died a martyr's death because they would not renounce their faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and because of their obedience and fidelity to the Pope.

The Gorkum Martyrs.
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By 1572, the Netherlands had fallen culturally and politically into Protestant hands, and Catholics of the country became objects of persecution for Lutherans and Calvinists alike. As town after town fell to Protestant control, the Catholic clergy of the area were arrested and often tortured. The goal of this mistreatment was not death, but apostasy.
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In June of 1572, the town of Gorcum (modern Gorinchem, 20 miles west of Rotterdam) fell into the hands of Calvinist pirates, and immediately they arrested nine Franciscan priests. Later, two Franciscan lay brothers, three secular priests, and an Augustinian canon were also arrested. Eventually four more priests were added to their number. These included two Norbertines, another secular priest, and John of Cologne, a Dominican friar working outside of Gorcum. After hearing of the arrests of the Franciscans, St. John disguised himself and traveled to Gorcum to console his brother priests with the sacraments. He was eventually caught and imprisoned along with them.
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The pirates demanded that these nineteen priests and religious deny the Real Presence and the authority of the Pope. They refused, much to their captors’ distress. Despite a plea for leniency from William of Orange, the Dutch prince and leader of the Protestant Rebellion, the Calvinists of Gorcum transferred their prisoners to nearby Brielle, where they were martyred outside of town in a dilapidated shed. Their bodies were horrifically desecrated both before and after their deaths, out of mockery for their priesthood.
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One of the secular priests killed was notorious for his unchastity. When accused of this by his captors, he offered his famous reply, “Fornicator I always was, but heretic I never was.” - Source
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Their feast day was July 9.

8 comments:

  1. “Fornicator I always was, but heretic I never was.” - I have never heard this before, thank you for sharing!

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  2. Ooh, is this about how Larry was all concerned with his "eternal reward" (quotes not mine) and "Truth" and all that?

    Yeah, man, Jesus was like about the here and now and stuff and like, fairness, ya know? He wouldn't want us to go to any trouble for our faith.

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  3. I like that too Matt.

    Mercury - yeah - this is my reply to that. I'd also like to point out to that commenter who is really doing the whining about all of 'his' issues. He accuses every one else of whining and yet his whole schtick is based upon whining.

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  4. Ooh, is this about how Larry was all concerned with his "eternal reward" (quotes not mine) and "Truth" and all that?


    That was me, Merc. I suffer from Obsessive Martyr Complex. It means I don't give a carp about anyone or anything. In fact, I don't even know why I'm wasting my time responding to you in the first place, because I'm too busy trying to be a martyr.

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  5. Don't get any ideas Badger...

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  6. Larry, maybe if you just went out on the Interstate of something and messed around - after all, all you want to do is suffer and die for its own sake - doncha know, Jesus was about tolerance and social justice and not judging people's actions. He didn't care so much about sin as personal affirmative self-realization (or some other post-modernist mumbo jumbo) ...

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  7. A saint is someone who has to live with a martyr.

    Or is it the other way around?

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  8. Eve - lol! I like that.

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Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.