Embrace the Lifestyle of a Living Martyr

Early Christian Martyrs

Catholic author, Peter J. Kreeft, in his new book, “How to Destroy Western Civilization and Other Ideas from the Cultural Abyss“, recalls the unshakable faith of the early Christian martyrs who refused to recant from what they knew to be true. They went joyously to their death singing out, “Credo in unum Deum….”. Therefore Kreeft asks:

”What is the difference between then and now? Then every Christian knew one salient fact about Christianity, that it is either EVERYTHING or NOTHING, either the world’s stupidest lie or the world’s ultimate truth, that if Jesus Christ is not literally everything to you, then He is nothing at all. Now almost no one knows that anymore, and those who do, and say so are labelled fanatics.”

If Jesus Christ is everything to us, then what do we care if the world labels us a diversity of derogatory names? Why should we worry if we are ostracised and mocked? We should rejoice in our humiliations and suffering: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His footsteps” (1 Peter 2:21).

Many believers may not be aware that we are all called to be living martyrs. Blessed Pius XII reminds us: “Not all of us are called to die a martyr’s death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian virtue. This demands strength of character…a constant, persistent and relentless effort is asked of us right up to the moment of our death. This may be conceived as a slow, steady martyrdom”.

Whatever sin is crucified in this present life will escape God’s retributive justice in Purgatory. The lifestyle of a living martyr is, in a very real sense, Purgatory Now, and if we have been purified in this life, we have been made ready for the Beatific Vision in the next one: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

The earnest and consistent embrace of the lifestyle of a living martyr ultimately prepares us for Heaven. How important it is to live our lives in the light of eternity! St. Paul confirms and underscores the teaching of Jesus in talking about the living martyrs who are “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in [their] mortal flesh” (II Cor. 4:10).

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13 Responses to Embrace the Lifestyle of a Living Martyr

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    Peter Kreeft is s good teacher; he is a beacon of hope at Boston University, a faithful convert, a truth seeker, and articulate speaker. He asks questions that makes one think.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Stephen Hand says:

    What, please, is the source of the Pius XII quote about a “slow, steady martyrdom”?


  3. Reblogged this on Zero Lift-Off and commented:

    So true and very sad that the world overall never really learns its lessons; the “Ways of the World” are contrary to eternal love! Meaning people don’t change for the most part, the majority just go along to get along or take sharp turns into one mad folly or another because they are easily duped or sometimes they are plain crazy people! We who are here living so differently and often in opposition to the eternal or He who is not of this world and lives above in a completely different world! But those that will stand up for what is right or obvious Truth, are few and far between; a huge shortage of heroes or Martyrs for Jesus on planet earth! Because, being one does mean being willing to give it all up, everything put on the alter to God; laying it on the line to do His will no matter what the price must be, to say God my heavenly Father I will give up my life when you ask for it in the name of Jesus; if that is what You require of me! Let’s be blunt how many people would today be willing to do that in a world full of self-aggrandizement even if it would mean preventing an evil from occurring or to simply save another life that God wills; very few would!

    Why do I say this, mostly because love, genuine absolute love is waning in this world because its filling up fast with Narcissists and Bigots, who are too busy pleasing themselves and trying to get something, whether it be more money, power, a better this or that just about any “Thing” they can get their greedy hands on. Are there many selfless persons around these days who are all about serving, say even a little bit like Saint Mother Teresa; hardly, although there are undoubtedly some but in a world of nearly 9 billion people the actual number of these exceptionally rare human beings is so minuscule its hardly for real, likened to a tiny island in a sea of chaos!

    Perhaps it can only add up one way how I’m thinking about it, in terms of truly being a “Martyr” and “true believer/giver” perhaps even imitating Christ Jesus in an absolute expression of love is the more correct way to think about it; which is something that He Himself told us about this subject, I do believe!

    “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.” John 15:13 Aramaic Bible

    So of course our all loving Savior and heavenly Father don’t want us to suffer and die to prove to them how thankful and committed we are to them, but, as stated here we all should fight hard in this spiritual battle to achieve these virtuous ideals as a suitable goal for any one of faith, and I quote; “This demands strength of character…a constant, persistent and relentless effort is asked of us right up to the moment of our death. This may be conceived as a slow, steady martyrdom”. “How to Destroy Western Civilization and Other Ideas from the Cultural Abyss ”
    God bless.
    Brother in Christ Jesus
    Lawrence Morra III

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kathleen says:

    Hello Stephen.

    The quote from Pope Pius XII comes from his homily at the canonisation of St. Maria Goretti. She was a paragon of chastity and purity, and Pope Pius XII notes how the example of her life and death is a call to all Christians to a persistent, even relentless pursuit of virtue and perfection.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. kathleen says:

    Yes Mary, Peter Kreeft is truly a great teacher, and very insightful, getting right to the core of the issues he discusses. I heard Raymond Arroyo mention them to Kreeft when he interviewed him about his book on his show, “World Over Live”, last Thursday.

    Only the above quote in black is actually taken from his new book. The rest of the article is just a sort of summary of Kreeft’s words, plus those of Pope Pius XII, and a few other saints and apologists.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. kathleen says:

    Thanks for your comment and the reblog Lawrence.

    Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a great example of someone who was “a living martyr”. Many thousands of people have benefitted from her amazing Christ-like witness to Our Lord’s words to: “love your neighbour as yourself!” She knew much suffering in her endeavour with numerous challenges, hardships and difficulties, but also great joy that only a clear conscience can bring.

    But even the cloistered life of saints like St Thérèse of Lisieux (and the countless unknown hidden saints whose names will be revealed to us only in Heaven) were those of living martyrs. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, fighting our ardent natures to avoid all sin, forgiving the many injustices life throws at us, and a constant striving for humility – IOW, living the lifestyle of a martyr – can make a saint of everybody!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Stephen Hand says:

    Thank You, Kathleen!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kathleen…Oh my God so perfectly said! Absolutely; wonderful Saint Mother Teresa was a Martyr; thank you for pointing that out! Many times I had thought what an amazing Angel of Mercy she was while alive when I would hear about or see he on some interview years ago but then too later I saw the martyrdom of this beautiful soul in her! I think of her and wonder, how did she do that; I’m in awe having seen illnesses and had a few myself; while even having family who worked in nursing and I would always call them angels of mercy because many of us could never do what they must do in their care giving duties; I know I would not be up to it day in and out for a lifetime, even if perhaps a short time I would try! You really make me snap to attention here in what you say; reminding me more of what I had read about her over the years and it’s so important for all of us to do so!

    Once a dying outcast man on the streets of Calcutta that she brought into her care facility; as she tended to his dying body from leprosy, cholera I think it was, so acutely and chronically ill, and he so used to everyone stepping around him not caring one iota; he said to her, “why are you helping me I’m dying;” and she so amazingly said which actually is making me cry now; “but you should die with dignity that is why I’m doing it!” Oh my God! I may be off on a couple of the words but the point is; this was a true Saint! My God, this is so important because these are the top things God Almighty wants all of us to consider during our brief time on earth and to open our eyes, minds and hearts to these fundamental truths that give us a glimpse of what it’s all about!!! And how God is speaking to us through many crucial moments unfolding before us! God and Jesus want us to understand that reality; of what is happening, and what is going to happen; if we will just trust in Him; believe and have courage that all will be as He has told us through the ages; regardless of how terrible or hopeless and sad things may look here!

    “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand, Who says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13.

    We are truly in His loving hands! His hands like Saint Mother Teresa’s will come to our aid and take care of everything! Amen.

    Thank you for this so important article Kathleen, well done, beautifully done!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. One day we might be called to fight too.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This is a grand slam in the world of baseball Kathleen! God is talking here without a doubt! Through us and these interactions!
    “forgiving the many injustices life throws at us, and a constant striving for humility – IOW, living the lifestyle of a martyr – can make a saint of everybody!” (CP&S Kathleen) Can anyone show me now this moment where they are having a life so tormented and sad as that “outcast man” dying, suffering like that alone, despised, rejected and even hated or even going through what pains and suffering “Saint Mother Teresa” lived through each and every day never quitting to be there for others in great desperation and need; to carry on as God directed her to do!

    We are all blessed so much, we truly are so fortunate! But only if we recognize how many blessings and graces we have been given and receive! Our existence was the beginning of the great blessing; the “Great Opportunity” to be a child of God’s forever!
    I must leave this portion of a long comment I left on another blog just before this one here today, on yours!
    “Just as I recall happening over the decades when caught up in some conversation with co-workers or neighbors and I would pop the tough or loaded question typically to get people thinking, when indeed more times than not they would say, “nothing I can do or let somebody else worry about that one!” One man in particular a government worker with a lazy streak in him figuratively speaking, a mile wide, who had had all his opportunities or career options handed to him through political connections, just the opposite of me; who would say when I presented him while working at that same government job I secured totally on my own merits and playing all the right cards perhaps to get the attention of the bigwigs; I hit this guy in a manner of speaking with truth, about how tough it is for many hard working persons trying to get a break out there in the world; he would always say, “that problem is above my pay grade!”

    And here is another portion of the comment I made last night that led to today’s!
    “My hat is always off to all those men and women who took it on the chin at home and then over in foreign lands fighting and dying! Very sad and so unfair; actually cruel when I ponder this! Many came back from the war and never talked about it but went right to work and raised their families! The ruling class or the haves of the have not’s, have always been cruel; for the most part! John F. Kennedy who went through all that even being hurt badly in the war commanding his PT Boat which I think gave him more compassion for the common man; later when he was president he was actually working to make things a lot more fair and square for folks even cleaning up union corruption; we know what the power players did to him!
    God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. kathleen says:

    Thank you for your great comments Lawrence. Lots of insights to ponder on there.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you Kathleen, I always need more insight; and do see your commentary the same way you see mine! Blessings.


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