It is too easy to take our faith for granted. We can complain at the slightest requirement. Perhaps the Mass is “too long.” Perhaps the air conditioning or PA system is less than ideal. Perhaps the Church’s moral teaching seems too demanding or “out of touch” with modern thinking. Perhaps some aspect of the Liturgy seems “boring.” And so forth.
But have you recalled that martyrs died so you could have this faith? Every one of the Apostles except St. John the Evangelist died a martyr’s death for our capacity to know that Jesus is Lord and that he died and rose for us.
- Andrew was crucified on an X shaped cross after being scourged. He preached to his tormentors to his last breath.
- Bartholomew had his skin flayed off
- James the Great (Son of Zebedee) was beheaded
- James the Younger was cast off the Southeast pinnacle of the Temple. When the 100 foot drop did not fully kill him he was beat to death with clubs.
- John the Evangelist was thrown into a vat of boiling oil and when he miraculously survived he was sent to prison on the Isle where Patmos where he died years later.
- Jude was shot through with arrows
- Simon was Crucified
- Matthew was killed with a sword
- Phillip was beheaded
- Peter was crucified upside down.
- Thomas was stabbed to death with a spear
- St. Matthias was stoned then beheaded.
- Mark was dragged to death by horses.
- Paul was beheaded
- Luke was Hanged to death
What will you suffer for handing on the faith? The martyrs went to death to proclaim Christ but some us cannot bear if some one merely raises an eyebrow at us or scoffs. Merely being less popular or excluded from the world’s admiration is too high a price for many. The next time you recite the Creed at Mass remember those words are written with blood. The next time you kids protest going to Church or your teenager scorns the faith you insist they practice, remember that others have faced far more formidable does than an unhappy child. The next time you are challenged for your faith and merely have to risk ridicule, remember others suffered (and still suffer) prison. Many were (and still are) killed for it.
Remember the Martyrs and stay faithful, dedicated and courageous. Stand firm in the Faith and never give up.