Thursday, August 14, 2014

Of Maximilian, Martyrdom, Migraines and Moods

I write this on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who was killed at Auschwitz in 1941.  Just this morning I came across a striking article about this hero of the faith.  “The Flowers in Cell 21" is definitely worth a read (just click this line to find it), and has drawn me to spend much of today pondering this saint, in his death cell, wasting away for the sake of Christ. 

I have been thinking of others, too; of martyrs down through the ages.  I've thought about people still standing for Christ today, refusing to renounce Him now.    

And I've thought about me.  

All day I have battled a headache, a "common" migraine.  The kind that makes a person feel as if a bruised brain is rattling around inside a battered skull.  Which sounds rather dramatic, I know, especially since I've been able to function.  I was even able to get to Mass, where I sat in something of a....  

Well.  Something of a "mood."  

I know I get to blame at least some of that mood on the headache.  I know migraines can cause sufferers to feel sluggish and out of sorts.   But honestly.   Did the music have to be so loud, and so "bland?"   Why couldn't we have soaring, worshipful, awe inspiring, reverent music?  And silence!  Oh yes, silence after Communion.  On this headachy day, that would have been oh, so greatly appreciated.  And while I was at it, I thought about how distracted I get by modern church buildings that have "Mass in the round."  While such architecture might suit the preferences of others, the distraction of people laughing across the room on this headachy day did not suit me. 

See what I mean by "something of a mood?"  A genuine, poor-me, distracted-by-the-round-sounds, bland-music-battered mood.  

Again I thought about Maximilian.  During his days of absolute starvation, he didn't get to look at anyone.  He did not have other Christians who would glance across the room at him and smile.  His room was a tiny, dreadful cell.  He would have been overjoyed with a round auditorium.  Especially one in which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was being offered, and where people had the amazing privilege of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ! 

And then I thought about us.  Those of us who, regardless of surroundings and song selections, have the freedom to gather to worship God, and to speak the Name of Jesus, and to actually receive Him day after day.

And then I thought about them.  These.  Our brothers and sister in Christ who cannot proclaim themselves Christian, at this very moment, without risk.  People who are trying to get their families to freedom, people whose situations are so grim that a migraine every single day for the rest of their lives would be a welcome exchange.

And then I thought about me.  The person who groans about headaches and grumbles aloud at a misbehaving computer (did I just admit that?) and whines about the heat.

There are people in agony for the sake of Christ, people whose very lives are at stake.  And I huff about a slight rise in the temperature.

And so, I think about Our Lord.  I think about the fact that I can join my fellow Christians throughout the world in asking Him to pour His graces upon His suffering servants.  I can pray for them, night and day.  I can pray for peace.  I can offer headaches and tummy aches for those who are willing to bear trials rather than turn away from Him.

I can remember my heroic brothers and sisters when I'm tempted to downplay my own commitment to Christ in the face of those who might mock me or think less of me for such allegiance.  If God can offer grace in life-and-death situations (as He certainly does), He can give grace when I feel stung by a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend. 

He gives grace to enable us to offer up aches and pains, and moments of sadness, and times when our commitment to Jesus Christ is questioned or misunderstood by others.  We can offer these things in prayer, in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters.

We can even offer computer snags.  And something of a mood. 

Painting of woman by Edgar Degas
Other Painting is 'The Christian Martyrs Last Prayer'

To look more into our Refuge in Trials, click this line


  1. Hoping your head feels much better today. I read that article that you posted and when the author was talking about it all looking so tourist-y, the image of the Coliseum came to mind as well. What the Christians then and now have / are suffering!!

    1. I know, Patty; it's sobering. My head is better today - thanks!

  2. When we see what our poor brethren are suffering it puts our own personal difficulties in a different light! This is so good, Nancy...a timely reminder to stop fixating on the small trials we each have.. and to offer everything to the Lord on behalf of His persecuted Body. Amen to that! xox

    1. Oh, absolutely, Trish. What others are undergoing is in my mind so much, and in my prayers. It is making me realize how much I DO fixate on my little trials that really are no trials at all.


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