Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Revisiting Teeny Tiny Martyrs

I was raised, in Catholic school, on stories of martyrs. These were gilded, shimmering beings who (I just knew) had floated through their lives on a plane above the rest of us, smiling at their hangmen and singing for joy in prison cells.

It did not occur to me that the wounds of such heroes might actually hurt. Nor that anyone called to such glory would not feel instantly glorious. Oh no. I was sure these shining ones were granted special dispensations from pain.

I even brought them, sometimes, into my young world of pretend.  Crossing arms across my chest, gazing wistfully at the sky with head tilted back, I glided across my front yard confident that I looked exactly like the painting on a holy card. 'Goodbye world... so long, family.... farewell, neighbors playing cowboys. I bequeath to you the cars in my sandbox and my swing hung on a tree and my black cocker spaniel.  As for me, I'm off to dance amid the flames.....'   

Fast forward many years. As a grownup in today's world, I recognize the truth that martyrdom hurts.  Prison cells are far from comfortable. Real people in real flames probably don't feel like dancing. 

I also recognize something else. I have finally gotten the message that sainthood isn't only for some.  It is for every single one of us. And martyrdom? Well, that's not a word we're tossing around lightly these days.

I have been thinking a lot, again, of the littlest martyrdoms. The ones you and I face, day after day after day. The thought of these little deaths is sticking with me, and I am seeing them more and more as opportunities. Chances to lay down my comfort, my popularity, my reputation, my pursuit of fun and luxury and entertainment; chances to stand up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

'That pain? You can offer it for this intention'
'When you're insulted for Me, choose to count it joy'
'Pray for My Church'
'Die to your own will in this matter'
'Intercede for an end to abortion'
'Take a stand for My truth about marriage'
'Pray for Godliness in the world'
'Do not participate in this evil'
'Don't react to that person in anger'
'No one is standing up for Me. Will you?'
'The world is in trouble. Do you see that? Will you let Me show you that? Will you work and pray and sacrifice for My truth even when it costs you?'

My little deaths to self are, when compared to true martyrdom, oh so tiny. My steps toward sainthood are wobbly and small.

But I am failing God if I don't take those steps. I'm failing Him when I don't cooperate with His call.

You and I? We may feel spiritually teeny.

But we have the call to be heroes. We have the call to be saints.

Painting: Charles Amable Lenoir, Joan of Arc

This is a slightly edited repost from 2014. It is being linked with Theology Is A Verb and Reconciled To You for 'It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday'   


  1. You description of your youth and how you perceived those saints is what I thought. (Sometimes I fail to remember in my adult age.) And Yes! We all have the call to be saints. Beautiful post.


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