The martyrs of the Church leave me at a loss for words.
Since I was really young, I’ve been fascinated with learning about the Saints & especially the martyrs. I felt myself drawn to St. Joan of Arc — I was inspired by her bravery, her heroism and her fierceness.
For years, I had such a hard time imagining martyrs like her went through. It felt so foreign to me. It felt archaic. The situations and circumstances seemed so far removed from anything going on today in our world today…
But the persecution of Christians is nothing new, and in fact it is escalating around the world every single day.
And as we learn more about the persecution of Christians – especially in the Middle East right now — I am astounded with the violence against humanity.
I am heartbroken.
Which leads me to this…
There are so many people witnessing to their faith right now even in the midst of such persecution. They are courageous, they are hopeful people.
And I ask myself — do I ever exude such courage and hope with my faith as these people are doing right now in the Middle East?
What can we takeaway from the witness of these martyrs?
Pope Francis was just in South Korea last weekend to beatify more than 100 martyrs, and he spoke of their witness – which he says, continues to bear fruit today.
One woman, Theresa, who traveled to South Korea for the beatification mass was asked to reflect on the topic of martyrdom while she was there.
“In Taiwan, we do not have such occasions [of martyrdom], because our religion is quite free, but during our daily lives we can also do little small things to witness to God,” who is “love, and truth and hope,” she said. “I think if we can do little things day by day and express such faith, such truth to all, and make some little sacrifices, I think it’s a tiny, tiny way of martyrdom.”
“When seeing the faces of those who were killed for their faith, Theresa noted, “They all had such a big smile, and they [looked like they] don’t feel any pain in such a strong sacrifice. I was really touched.”
I personally feel so small, so cowardly, when I compare myself to the martyrs of the Church and their sacrifices.
But we can learn so much from them & from their great witness to God’s love.
And we can try to emulate that in our own lives.
Please join me in praying for all the persecuted Christians. And here’s an idea I saw online through a campaign — #20DaysforPeace — “Forgive anyone who offends you. And offer it for those who persecute Christians in Iraq.”
You can read more about Theresa’s experience in South Korea here.