Friday, October 14, 2011

Exhortation to martyrdom


Some thoughts.
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Origen wrote a treatise on Exhortation to Martyrdom.  It was one of the books I read and reread when I was younger, unfortunately I loaned it to someone and never got it back - or did I give it away?  I can't remember.  I found some passages from the work I'll share with you for today - Fridays are a day of penance and therefore something like a training day for martyrdom.  I think it kind of is.
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MARTYRDOM AND EVANGELIZATION
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The martyrs bear witness for a testimony to the unbelieving, "and so do all the saints whose deeds shine before men. They spend their lives rejoicing in the Cross of Christ and bearing witness to the true Light." 
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Martyrs encourage believers and catechumens to witness to Christ without fear.
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When the Christians came back from the cemeteries after bearing the bodies of the holy martyrs to their burial and assembled in the church for prayer, we used to see the evidence of their holiness. The whole Christian body was there, and no member of the flock showed fear. The catechumens learned a lesson in those assemblies when they heard the report of what the holy martyrs had said to their judges and of the steadfastness with which they confessed the faith up to the moment of their death. I know Christian men and women who saw strange things happen in such assemblies, and even real miracles.

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"We are the sons of a patient God, the brothers of a patient Christ, let us show ourselves patient in all that befalls us."
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We are, therefore, led to believe that the powers of evil do suffer defeat by the death of the holy martyrs; as if their patience, their confession, even unto death, and their zeal for piety blunted the edge of the onset of evil powers against the sufferer, and their might being thus dulled and exhausted, many others of those whom they had conquered raised their heads and were set free from the weight with which the evil powers formerly oppressed and injured them.
In some such way must we suppose the death of the most holy martyrs to operate, many receiving benefit from it by an influence we cannot describe.
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"We are only persecuted when God allows the tempter and gives him authority to persecute us... If it is His will that we should again wrestle and strive for our religion... we will say, 'I can do all things through Christ Jesus our Lord who strengthens me'." - Origen
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Art:  The Crucifixion, Stanley Spencer

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:24 AM

    On Prayer and Exhortation to Martyrdom are two different works, but they are in the Classics of Western Spirituality Volume of Origen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks - I just read Exhortation then.

    ReplyDelete

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