7 Reasons Why We Ought to Desire Martyrdom
Sermon by Fr. Samuel Waters | The Daily Knight
Reflection taken from St. John Eudes chapter "On the Spirit of Martyrdom"
Who is a Martyr and what is Martyrdom?
In St. John Eudes's book: "The Life of the Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls" he writes a section on the spirit of martyrdom. The culmination and Perfection of Catholic life is holy martyrdom. It is the most powerful miracle that God can work in a Catholic Soul. Not only in life but in their very death God perfects them making them worthy to die for him as he died for his father and for all of us.
Christ speaking through the true Church promises that he will give the Martyr a special place in his Father's Kingdom. He will give them to eat of the tree of life. You have lost a human and temporal life for me, I will be your life and Eternity. They will receive "hidden Manna" which is the Divine love, which reigns in the hearts of the Holy Martyrs. They will have power over Nations just like Christ himself received from his Father. They will be invested in his colors of white and red. They will have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Apocalypse 7:14). Christ will write upon them the name of God his Father and in the name of the city of his God, (Apocalypse 3:12).
Martyrdom is the Fulfillment of the will of God. The Holy Martyrs who imitated Jesus most perfectly in his life and death while on Earth, shall resemble him in heaven. You shall sit with me in my throne and sit down with My Father in his throne. These promises are addressed to the Martyrs, these are Christ's own saints, who bear His stamp and Godly character.
There are various kinds of martyrs and martyrdom. Those who are disposed or willing to die for Christ are martyrs before God, even though they may not actually die for him. Saint Cyprian says that those who are ready to die rather than offend God are also martyrs. St. Isidore says to mortify the flesh and the passions, to resist unruly appetites, and to persevere to the end in self-abandonment for the love of Our Lord is a kind of martyrdom.
Saint Gregory the Great goes even further; to patiently suffer for Christ; poverty, starvation, deformity, any kind of affliction or endures insult, calumny and persecution, not return evil for evil, but blessing those who harm him by hurtful words, loving those who hate him, this is also a species of martyrdom. St John the Evangelist, St. Tecla (the first female to suffer martyrdom for Christ,) St. Felix of Nola, are all honored by the Church as true Martyrs, although they did not die in the clutches of the tyrants, or in the torments they underwent for Christ. They died ordinary deaths, having been preserved from the death they were ready to endure for Christ.
To be a true martyr, one must die for our Lord himself, for the honor of his Mysteries and Sacraments, in defense of the Church, in support of an article of the Faith or a point of morals, avoiding yielding to sin, because it offends God or resisting sin to the point that you die from the violence of the event. St. Thomas Aquinas says that any act, even if it is merely human and natural, can make us Martyrs if referred to the glory of God. St. John Eudes urges us to make a point of lifting up your heart to Jesus. If the spiritual or bodily help you give to the sick causes you to contracted a Mortal illness, and you give your service to the sick out of love of Our Lord, you will share in the glory of the martyrs.
7 Reasons Why We Ought to Desire Martyrdom
All Catholics, whatever state in life you are, ought always to be prepared to suffer martyrdom for Jesus, for the following 7 reasons:
1) Catholics belong to Jesus and are bound to live for him alone. Therefore we are bound to die for him. St. Paul says none of us liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself. We live and die unto the Lord.
2) God gave us life and being, for his glory alone. We are bound to glorify him by sacrificing to him our being and our life and homage to his life.
3) God commands us to love him with our entire heart, soul, and strength, with the most perfect love possible. We must love him to the point of shedding our blood and giving our life for him. For Our Lord had a most intense desire to shed his blood and died for his Father's Glory. Because his time had not yet come, he chose His Holy Innocents as martyrs. Also ever since he rose from the dead and ascended, he has always kept the infinite desire to suffer and die for his Father's glory and love. Even though he can no longer suffer nor die a second death, he desires to suffers and died in his members. He seeks souls in whom he can accomplish this desire. We ought to offer ourselves to him as candidates for His renewed martyrdom. And we should live our lives in training for martyrdom.
5) Every Catholic made a promise at baptism to adhere to Jesus, to follow and to imitate Jesus, and to be victims consecrated and sacrificed to his glory.
6) Christ is our head and we are his members. Saint Paul reminds us: "Always bearing about in our bodies the mortification of Jesus. That's the life of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies and in our mortal flesh," II Corinthians 4:10-11.
7) The most compelling reason to be a martyr for Christ is the martyrdom Christ suffered on the cross for Love Of Us. Jesus was not content with spending his entire life for us but willed to Die For Love, the cruelest ignominious death in the history of the world. He remains present upon our altars both as priest and victim. This Presence upon our holy altars will be celebrated until the end of time. If we are not ready to sacrifice to him all that is dearest in the world, even life itself, which actually belongs to him, surely we are not Catholic. As a Catholic, we ought to be martyrs, if not in actual fact at least an intention and in will. If you live under the tyranny of sin you will be a martyr to your self-love and your passions, and you will be a martyr for the devil. However, if you desire to be a martyr for Christ, you must strive to live in the spirit of Martyrdom.
What is the Spirit of Martyrdom you might ask?
It is a spirit that has five attributes:
1. It is a spirit of strength and constancy that fears only God and sin and cannot be shaken or overthrown either by promises or threats; by persuasions or violence.
2. It is a spirit of deepest humility that feels only horror for the vainglory and publicity of the world, loves contempt and humiliations of the world.
3. It is a spirit of self mistrust and of most firm confidence in Christ our strength in whom all things can be done.
4. It is a spirit of perfect detachment from the world and everything in it. Those who are to sacrifice their lives to God must also sacrifice to him all else besides.
5. It is the spirit of most Burning Love for Christ, who leads those who are motivated by his Spirit to do all, to suffer all for Love of Christ who suffered all for them. They consider mortification and suffering to be a paradise of joys, to be sought and desired while they avoid and detest the pleasures of the world as much as they detest hell itself.
This is the spirit of martyrdom! Beg our Lord to fill you with this Spirit. Pray to the Queen of Martyrs and all Martyrs that they may obtain this spirit for you from God. Strive to develop in yourself by imitation, a perfect image of the lives of the Holy Martyrs as well as Jesus and Mary so that they may make you worthy to resemble them in death.