By Sister Mary Colombière, O.C.D.
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
2 Timothy 3:12
“The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
These first verses may not sound very inviting, but do not stop reading!
Beginning each morning with a Consecration to God of all one’s prayers, works, joys and sufferings of the day encourages us to make a willing sacrifice of our life for His greater honor and glory, for the salvation of souls and for the good of the Church. The faith we profess must be lived on a day-to-day basis.
Christ takes our good works and our sufferings, both small and great, transforming them to benefit, not only ourselves, but also all those in need of His redeeming action. While Christ calls some to shed their blood for the faith, He calls each one of us to become a martyr in spirit.
The word “martyr” means “witness” or “testimony”. Jesus warned us that in becoming His disciples we would stand with Him in giving testimony to the world of an everlasting Kingdom.
“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master ‘ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
The Apostles of Jesus, although eager and excited to begin their ministry were also weak and fearful men. After the Crucifixion of their leader, they went into hiding. It was only following the dynamic inflow of fortitude given them by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost that brought about a rush of spiritual adrenalin into their souls enabling them to boldly proclaim the Kingdom of God.
Persecution followed quickly on the heels of the Apostles and the Faithful.
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer…Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Persecution can reach unbelievable levels of cruelty and horror. It becomes the unleashing of evil. The Nazi genocide in Germany’s Holocaust of about 11 million people bears witness to this even in our own times. However, it also highlights the counteraction of good whereby many rose to the occasion, risked their own safety to hide others and in some cases lost their lives in so doing.
Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurately more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it. (CCC 311)
In the 1920’s and again in the 1930’s Mexico experienced under its president Plutarco Elias Calles extreme waves of persecution from his plans to wipe out Christianity from his country. It was because of the carnage happening in Mexico, that our Mother Foundress, Mother Maria Luisa Josefa, in her concern for saving the vocations of the Sisters in her fledgling community, made the agonizing decision to leave Mexico and seek refuge in the United States. Our community here in the U.S. came about because of this religious persecution in Mexico.
You would not be reading this blog today if the little community in Mexico had not needed to relocate. Had we not been located to the United States, most of our Sisters present in our community now would most likely have sought to follow their vocation in some other community. In spite of the evil intent of Calles, God had a greater plan. In The Face of Darkness1 there was still a light at the end of the tunnel.
In His Incarnation Jesus united Himself with each human person. He took on our human nature emphasizing the dignity of the human person made in God’s image. Saint John Paul II reminded us in his Solicitude Rei Socialis
“At stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator”.
Law cannot regulate our attitude toward others. If we are convinced of our discipleship with Jesus, then we must look at each person that God places in our path and ask ourselves how we respect the dignity of that individual. If we truly believe in the Gospel, then we cannot dictate to ourselves what we will accept and follow and disregard what is not according to our personal vision.
If you are silent, be silent out of love. If you speak, speak out of love.
In the Face of Darkness by Sister Timothy Marie Kennedy, O.C.D.