By: Sister Timothy Marie, O.C.D.

So you ask me outright: “What are you willing to die for?” Well, that’s one question I’ve never been asked before!

This will take some thought before I can answer. Do you mean to die for as in DIE? Die for something like a person or a cause? To tell you the truth I’ve never really thought about it and now that you ask I’m finding it an uncomfortable question – one I’d actually prefer NOT to think about.

Hmm. . . . . To die for. Well, I remember the story of St. Maximillian Kolbe. In the Nazi Concentration camp during WWII, he stepped forward to take the place of the designated man to be shot and killed, right then, right there on the spot, just another killing in this brutal place in this ignominious chapter of world history. He died a martyr during what has come to be known as The Holocaust. He offered his life because the designated victim had a wife and children and he did not. As simple as that. And he died for that reason. He willed to die out of charity.

As for myself, I’ve never thought about it. I learned in Catholic School as a youngster that on the feast of a martyr the priest wears red vestments and that red symbolized the blood of martyrs. In public high school during my sophomore year, I had a Jewish social studies teacher and he was awesome. He made the travail of the Jewish people during WWII come alive before our class and I’ve never forgotten his professionally compelling and personally inspiring classes on bigotry, prejudice, and unrestrained hatred. I have never forgotten his stories. We were riveted, as it were, to these revelations of human debasement and unrestrained violence. And Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Sein) told her sister, “Come, let us go die for our people,” when they were arrested and killed in the concentration camp along with the many others simply because they were Jewish.

St. Gianna Molla gave her life for her unborn child, choosing not to have treatment for cancer within her so her baby could be born unharmed. She, too, was a martyr. She died that her little daughter could come into the world safely. Perhaps, if earlier in her life she had been asked the question of what she would be willing to die for, just perhaps, she wouldn’t have known how to answer it. Yet, when the time came, she knew and her decision to forego treatment sealed that decision. She died that her baby could live.

So, perhaps that is the answer.

When the moment comes, we will know.

A martyr? One of us Carmelite Sisters? One of you readers of this blog? With today’s world being the way it is (I think you know what I mean) anything could happen. But, not to worry, God is in charge and we are “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1).

Amen.

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