"No one is a martyr for a conclusion; no one is a martyr for an opinion. It is faith that makes martyrs" (Cardinal Newman, Discourses to Mixed Congregations).
I don't know if the word 'martyr' is the most overuse word in the blogosphere, but it has to be up there in the top 25 at least. It is tossed around, usually as an insult, and aimed as though to be called a martyr is the ultimate insult.
And I supposed, according to the secularists of today,hurling the word 'martyr' at someone is their way of insulting people of Faith. Shoot, over at The Hive, there is a guy who calls people a 'martyr' everytime they object to people not holding themselves to higher levels of discourse than that found in the schoolyard during a fight over the markers used by 10 year olds for hopscotch.
I asked myself, what is so bad about being considered a martyr?
The Martyrs did not complain about their persecution; rather, they reported it, did not deny it, in fact they embraced it loudly and with joyous hearts. In fact the people who were the most ashamed of martyrdom are usually the persecutors, desperately throwing verbal and historical sand on the dung heap that is the actions they took against good and kind people.
The Martyrs did not run willy-nilly into a fire, or lay their heads down on the chopping block. Nope, they didn't run towards death but they did not run away from it either; instead they simply stood their ground and said to their persecuters, "We are Catholic. We are Christians. We are Jews. We aren't hurting you. We aren't going to hide. We are staying here, where you can find us. If what you are doing is so good, you won't have to do it in the dark, under the cover of silence as though what you are doing is nasty and ugly".
Oh wait, yes...it is!
But how do I imitate them?
Do I allow falsehoods to be printed about me or my late husband? Do I not respond to the slimy innuendo falling from the mouth of a twisted wannabe politician from my home town? Do I stand up to the scum and declare - "You don't get to hurl falsehoods at me and not own your actions" ?
I have chosen to stand up for myself quietly, allowing friends to help me in ways I cannot and do not have time to do myself.
And I have chosen to examine the evidence for martyrdom.
And I am so grateful I do not live in a country where people like me are at risk of death simply because we wish to practice our Faith, receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, and join in the unending hymn of praise that is The Mass.
And I wonder if I would have the determination and grit to hold tight to The Faith if I was in danger of being gang-raped for trying to fetch water from a nearby well. Sure I can hold onto it in the face of ridicule and lies but that hardly qualifies as tough. The men perpetrating it are so sad, lonely and sick all one can do is pray for them.
God puts each person exactly where they belong, according to their strengths and their weaknesses. I am so grateful my God has always known me - the true me, the authentic me and not the me that drowned her boredome for her life with cheap vodka. He knows I can survive this....and I am not required to survive more.