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Monday, June 1, 2015

On the Feast of St. Justin Martyr -- Are You Prepared?

Things look pretty bleak these days, but on the bright side, bad times are great times for intense sanctity. That's why it's so important to be prepared to be a martyr. We've been privileged in this country. We've escaped most of the violence of countries where Christians die for the faith like China, Russia, the Sudan, Iraq etc.. But there's no guarantee that will continue.

So get in practice for martyrdom by being willing to speak the truth to the world in charity. Don't shrink from the challenge. Bishop Athanasius Schneider, like Maximilian Kolbe before him, urges us to use the instruments of social communications to spread the gospel:

“We must make use of all the resources that the modern world offers to us. We are not confined to waiting for the media to spread these messages. We do not have to wait for each individual pastor to preach them from the pulpit. We should embrace the new media forms that allow us to spread the Gospel and the teachings of our Holy Mother, the Church. We should take our message to the Internet, publish it on websites, blogs, and social media.”
Amen! Let us share the truth with as many as possible by whatever means possible. But, at the same time, let us prepare ourselves to take the inevitable flack we get with good humor.

I have always admired the way G.K. Chesterton could be friends with some of the biggest secularists of his time with views diametrically opposed to the Church -- men like George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells. Friendship is one of the greatest ways to bring the strayed sheep to the Good Shepherd. A priest friend once said to my husband and me, being a Christian means to "be a friend, make a friend, bring a friend to Christ." Chesterton was certainly good at it. I don't know if they ever met, but C.S. Lewis attributed his conversion from atheism to Christianity in part to Chesterton's Everlasting Man. And there is plenty of evidence that Chesterton excelled at touching the hearts of atheists. H.G. Wells was one. In fact, once when Wells was very ill, he wrote Chesterton a note saying,  "If after all my Atheology turns out wrong and your Theology right I feel I shall always be able to pass into Heaven (if I want to) as a friend of G.K.C.'s. Bless you." Chesterton answered, "If I turn out to be right, you will triumph, not by being a friend of mine, but by being a friend of Man, by having done a thousand things for men like me in every way from imagination to criticism. The thought of the vast variety of that work, and how it ranges from towering visions to tiny pricks of humor, overwhelmed me suddenly in retrospect; and I felt we have none of us ever said enough. . .Yours always, G. K. Chesterton." [Dec. 10, 1933, Undated reply from G.K. Chesterton to H.G. Wells. Letters quoted in full in Maise Ward, Gilbert Keith Chesterton (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1943), pp. 604-605.]

Chesterton touched many by his writing and few can expect to write like he did, but that doesn't keep us from using what gifts we have to reach others with the faith. We can speak the truth verbally, write letters to our children and friends, post charitable comments on Facebook and write articles and comments on blogs and websites trusting the impact of our works to the Lord.

Perhaps the only martyrdom we will be called on to suffer will be the white martyrdom of persecution and contempt. But by making ourselves ready by suffering the small painful pricks of crucifixion by thumbtack, we will be ready, if necessary, to pay the last full measure. Let us pray for that grace daily.

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