On July 9, 1572, after ten days of unspeakable torture and mutilations, 19 men (17 priests and two lay brothers) were hung for refusing to deny their belief in the Blessed Sacrament and papal supremacy.
Over 400 years later these martyrs continue to inspire people to live the faith. Do we possess that same deep sense of faith in the Holy Eucharist as modeled by these heroic martyrs? Are we willing to lay down our lives for that belief?
If we were to put this question into the more mundane settings of every day life, how would we respond?
1. Are we willing to make the sign of the cross and pray over our meal before eating in a public restaurant?
Praying before a meal in a restaurant isn't an act we do to be seen. It is giving thanks to God for the blessing of a meal we are able to enjoy with others doing the cooking and cleaning. Isn't that worth giving thanks to God? Are we too self-conscious to acknowledge God in this simple manner?
2. When the opportunities arise, are we willing to share our faith with others?
This doesn't have to be seen in the negative light of proselytizing. However, if we believe that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords shouldn't we be excited to share that Good News with others? As C.S. Lewis points out, "If Christianity is true it is the most important thing in the world. If it isn't true, it is of no importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important." Revelation 3:15-16 expounds on this when it makes reference to whether we are hot, cold, or lukewarm. The consequences of being lukewarm are not pretty regardless of which translation of the Bible one uses. I have seen three different words used for how the lukewarm will be expelled from the mouth of the Holy One--spew, spit or vomit. None of those options are very appealing. Do we take these admonitions seriously? Is growing in our faith a priority in our lives?
3. What is our attitude toward the Blessed Sacrament?
Do we truly believe that Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity? If so, does our demeanor at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist reflect that solemn belief? The ritual of the liturgy is beautiful, but it also has the potential to lull us into complacency because we know what comes next. Remember, this isn't an empty ritual in which we simply attend as an observer. We enter into the sacred mystery and encounter the living God at each and every Eucharistic celebration. Do we comprehend the magnitude of this privilege as well as the corresponding responsibility?
We may never be challenged to lay down our lives for the faith as did the martyrs of Gorkum. However, we are called to be faithful witnesses each and every day of our lives--in season and out of season. May the Holy Spirit fill us with the gifts of courage and perseverance so that we may remain faithful.
Holy Martyrs of Gorkum, pray for us!
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