The Glory of the Martyrs!

Hebrews 12:4

In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Every crucifix is a little sacramental reminding us that at the heart of our faith is a Death.  We prefer, of course, not to dwell overmuch on such things, and this is not entirely bad.  For, of course, to dwell overmuch on the death of Christ, without remembering the resurrection of Christ is as bad as dwelling on the resurrection while ignoring the cross.  Both cross and crown must be taken together or not at all.  One way that crown is won is through martyrdom, which is precisely the resistance of sin prolonged all the way to the point of shedding blood.  It is rooted, to be sure, in the resistance to sin within ourselves.  But it is not a mere inward pietism that ignores the sin of the world.  Rather, in confronting sin within, we find ourselves compelled to confront sin around us as well and not to keep quiet even when the powers of hell tell us to shut up or take it in the neck.  Jesus confronted such powers.  So have all the martyrs down the ages (and in no greater numbers than during the 20th Century, which shall be known as the Century of Martyrs).  Today, thank God for the gift of life he has given you and seek, in some small way, to offer it along with Christ crucified as the martyrs have always done.  It is an offering acceptable to the Lord.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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