Get Your Exercise!

Hebrews 12:4
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Yesterday, the writer of Hebrews reminded us that one of the sure marks of a valid baptism is suffering.  If we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death.  And death hurts.  Today, however, Hebrews also reminds us that this painful struggle against sin is not as bad as it could be.  Very few Christians actually have to undergo bloody martyrdom (though most people are shocked to discover that the 20th century, not the 3rd, was the great century of Christian martyrdom).  But even in that bloodiest of centuries, only a minority of the Church’s members shed their blood.  This does not, however, mean that martyrdom is something we won’t face – we will.  For the question is not whether we will all suffer and die bloodily, but holily.  A Greek philosopher said long ago that the love of wisdom was the practice of death.  This is exquisitely true.  All our Christian life aims at a final consummation: to die well and thereby enter into endless life.  Our struggle against sin now is practice for the final battle against impenitence.  Mass is a workout for the endless worship that is heaven.  Our prayers of intercession here are kindergarten in preparation for the awesome symphony of prayer that is the beatific vision.  Today, take up the struggle again.  You are going wonderful places one of these days!

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.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage