Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thinking about the joy of martyrdom ...

The martyr offers himself to God as a sacrifice, as a priest, in union with the sacrifice of Christ: he offers, with himself, all that he has on earth, fortune, family, children...

Clearly "the cup of salvation" in Psalms is the death of the martyrs. 
That is why the verse "I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord" 
is followed by "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" 
- Origen

I used to 'study' Origen's Exhortation to Martyrdom.

That is, I would read and re-read certain passages over and over.  Sometimes with fear, sometimes with longing - although I trusted the sentiments of fear more than longing.  I could never trust myself - and with St. Phillip I pray, "Do not trust Terry, Lord ...."  Nevertheless, the martyrs fill my heart - inflame my heart - with holy joy, with holy fear, and with holy love.  I recall talking with a nun one day at the turn of her monastery - she spoke about the desire for martyrdom with such intensity, I was deeply moved and edified.  She is still alive, so who knows, perhaps she will be given that grace.  Monastic life developed as the first persecutions ceased - monastic life was a not only a preparation for martyrdom, if you will, it was seen as a sort of substitute.

Anyway, I'll share a couple of quotes I found online from Origen.  (I loaned my copy of the Exhortation some time ago and it was never returned.)  I may have shared these quotes before, but it seems especially appropriate to do so once again today.  Not surprisingly, the source is Coptic.

+I think that they love God with all their soul who with a great desire to be in union with God,withdraw and separate their souls not only from the earthly body but also from every material thing that can keep them from God. Such men accept the putting away of the body of humiliation without distress or emotion when the time comes for them to put off the body of death by what is commonly regarded as death.

+For it is likely that the nature of things allows, in a mysterious manner that most people cannot understand. The possibility that the voluntary death of one righteous man for the community will avert by expiation evil demons who cause plagues or famines or tempests at sea etc. .

+We must regard the blood of the holy martyrs as freeing us from harmful powers; their endurance, for example, and their confession even unto death, and their zeal for religion serve to blunt the edge of the plots the powers lay against a man in his sufferings... Such is the kind of service that the death of the most pious martyrs must be understood to do, many people receiving benefits from their death by an efficacy that we cannot explain.

If you ever wanted to be a priest, and for some reason were not able to, prepare yourself for martyrdom by a mortified, holy life ....
+Origen in his work "Exhortation to Martyrdom" explains that by martyrdom, a believer can offer himself as a true priest in sacrifice to God, for "Just as Jesus redeemed us by His precious blood, so by the precious blood of the martyrs others may also be redeemed. Martyrdom is "a golden work," "the cup of salvation." The martyr offers himself to God as a sacrifice, as a priest, in union with the sacrifice of Christ: he offers, with himself, all that he has on earth, fortune, family, children. - source

+Who would ponder these considerations and not utter the apostolic cry: "The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us!" (Rom. 8:18). For how can the confession before the Father fail to be much greater than the confession before men? And how can the confession made in heaven by the One who had been confessed fail to exceed in the highest degree the confession made by the martyrs on earth of the Son of God? 
+God once said to Abraham: "Go forth out of your country." Soon perhaps we shall hear it said to us: "Go forth out of every country." It would be well if we were to obey, and come to see in the heavens the place which is known as "the kingdom of the heavens."

Queen of Martyrs, 
pray for us
that we may be made worthy
of the promises of Christ.


O, Mother of my God, and my Lady Mary; 
as a beggar, all wounded and sore, 
presents himself before a great Queen, 
so do I present myself before you, 
who are Queen of heaven and earth. 
From the lofty throne on which you sit, disdain not, 
I implore you, to cast your eyes on me, a poor sinner. 
God has made you so rich that you might assist the poor, 
and has made you Queen of Mercy 
in order that you might relieve the miserable. 
Behold me then, and pity me: 
behold me and abandon me not, 
until you see me changed from a sinner into a saint.
- St. Alphonsus


  1. Thank you Terry for all of the above, So edifying; & I really like St. A.'s quote. I have felt so subdued since Fr. Jacques' martyrdom. I think quite a bit about France, Elder Daughter...about the Sacred Heart..."Who So Loves Man" !!

  2. Did you also read that there are some who question Fr. Jacque's martyrdom? That those of us who believe he was martyred are "jumping the gun?" One blogger comes to mind as he questions just how "willing" Father J was to be martyred since it was reported by the eyewitness nun, "he was seen trying defend himself before his throat was slit."
    He then goes on detail as to what the CC teaches just what a martyr is and what the requirements are.

    It was an interesting read but one that was a bit upsetting since I started to wonder how it was questioned. He did end the article by stating that we must pray for Fr. J and the many like him who have been murdered for the faith but he added that we must not call him a martyr until the Church declares him one.

    In the end, only God knows. I continue to pray.

    1. I saw that stuff. Which is why I posted this - his whole life prepared him for this moment. Trying to defend oneself is a natural defense - physical reaction when one is ambush or forced to do something. We need to take into consideration Fr.'s age and perhaps frail condition - supposing he had difficulty kneeling and struggled?

      The overwhelming reaction has been to acclaim him as a martyr - he died for the faith. The Church will decide in the end. I pray to him and ask his help already.

    2. I agree with you which is why it was upsetting to me to read that some are already questioning. His difficulty kneeling or struggling to kneel might have been viewed as resisting ... who knows?

      I pray for him too and am asking he join our prayers in order to defeat ISIS and all who rage against Christ and His Church.


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