Scandalous Priest and Glorious Martyr

Saturday, July 9, AD 2016

 Martyrs-of-Gorkum 2015

 

(I repeat this post every July 9th.  All of us can be saints, even if our sins be as scarlet, if we have faith, love and courage.)

 

When July 9 rolls around each year I am always reminded of my personal belief that before our end, perhaps especially for those of us sunk deep in sin, God gives us an opportunity to atone and turn aside from the downward path.

In Sixteenth Century Holland one of the longest wars in history began between Spain and Dutch rebels.  The war was waged on both sides with sickening atrocities.  Among the most violent were the Sea Beggars, Dutch patriots or pirates depending upon one’s point of view.  In June of 1572 the Sea Beggars took the Dutch town of Gorkum, and captured nine Franciscan priests, Nicholas Pieck, Hieronymus of Weert, Theodorus van der Eem, Nicasius Janssen, Willehad of Denmark, Godefried of Mervel, Antonius of Weert, Antonius of Hoornaer, and Franciscus de Roye, of Brussels.  Two Franciscan lay brothers were also captured:   Petrus of Assche and Cornelius of Wyk.

The Sea Beggars also captured the parish priest of Gorkum, Leonardus Vechel of Boi-le-Duc, and his assistant, Nicolaas Janssen.  Also imprisoned were Father Godefried van Duynsen and Joannes Lenartz of Oisterwijk, director of the convent of Augustinian nuns in Gorkum.  Later imprisoned was a Domincan priest Joannes van Hoornaer who bravely came to Gorkum to minister to his imprisoned colleagues and joined them in their captivity,  Jacobus Lacops of Oudenaar, a priest of Monster, Holland, Adrianus Janssen of Brielle, and last, and no doubt he would say least, the subject of this post, Andreas Wouters of Heynoord.

To be blunt, Andreas Wouters had been a lousy priest.  A drunkard and notorious womanizer,  he had fathered several children.  Suspended from his duties  he was living in disgrace when the Sea Beggars captured Gorkum.  This was his cue to run as far away as possible, based on his past history.  Instead, perhaps understanding that God was giving him maybe his last chance to redeem himself, he volunteered to join the captive priests and brothers.

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5 Responses to Scandalous Priest and Glorious Martyr

Time For Our Game Face

Monday, March 28, AD 2016

Father Z says it all in his post on the crucifixion of Father Thomas Uzhunnalil:

 

 

It seems fairly clear that this priest was killed by adherents of the Religion of Peace for hatred of the Christian Faith. He is more than likely a true martyr, through red, bloody, martyrdom. And he died in the manner of Our Lord.

From The Right Perspective:

ISIS CRUCIFIES CATHOLIC PRIEST ON GOOD FRIDAY

Isis crucified a Catholic priest on Good Friday, the latest atrocity committed by the radical Islamist terror group.

The Rev. Thomas Uzhunnalil was kidnapped in Yemen in during a March 4 raid on a nursing home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. 16 nuns and nurses were killed in the attack. Pope Francis already had honored the slain nuns as martyrs.

His execution, using the same grisly method the Romans used on Jesus Christ and commemorated by Christians around the world every Good Friday, was confirmed at the Easter Vigil Mass by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna.

Rev. Uzhunnalil was a Salesian, an order founded in 1859 by St. John “Don” Bosco. It is the second-largest order in the Catholic Church, with more than 28,000 Priests, Brothers, Sisters and novices working across the globe to help poor children.

We had better get our game face on soon.

Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us.
St. Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us.
St. Pius V, pray for us.

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18 Responses to Time For Our Game Face

  • Time for game faces indeed.

  • Pope Francis ascribes Islamic terrorism behind such crimes to “fundamentalism” within a good religion as though there is a metaphor level of the violent passages of the 9th chapter of the Koran. There isn’t. Just as there is no metaphor hidden in the seventh commandment. It simply has one level…don’t steal. The Pope has an obligation to read the seventh commandment in a fundamentalist manner because it is a one level verse just as Christ was one level and fundamentalist when He said to feed the hungry. He actually means….feed the hungry. The violent passages of chapter 9 of the Koran are one level verses. That have no higher meaning like thou shalt not steal has no higher meaning. Fortunately the one thousand Muslim police on the New York police force are probably from liberal Muslim denominations and see Koranic violent chapter nine as restricted historically to that period of Islamic history and they see it as being restricted to that exact historical context….somewhat like we see the Old Testament death penalty for adultery or incest as being restricted to the Jews before Christ. Radical Islam though sees chapter nine as not restricted by context and further they see it as abrogating other nice passages of the Koran by having come later than the nice passages. So they reverse the normal as though a Christian would start a movement to bring back the 33+ death penalties God gave the Jews for mortal sins not just crimes. So Pope Francis is not on the right track with the word fundamentalist. The violent passages have only one level just as feed the hungry has one level…and don’t steal has one level. And Pope Francis must take those two latter verses in a fundamentalist manner himself. The problem is not fundamentalism but is the muslim problem of abrogation. For them, later passages abrogate earlier passages where there is a contradiction. And there is no Pope in Islam to settle denominational disputes around whether historical verses can be used to abrogate earlier non historical nice ideas.
    But Francis probably is projecting Christian fundamentalism’s problems…like picking up snakes….onto Islam where it doesn’t explain the problem.

  • Perhaps, we all lose sight of a simple fact, obscured by the mists of fourteen hundred years, that the Koran was a pretext for conquest, and remains so for many Muslims.

  • Since the Washington Times first reported this story, Christoph Cardinal Schonborn has retracted his statements and Bishop Paul Hinder of Southern Arabia (the bishop in charge of the region) has denied these reports. Bishop Hinder says there are “strong indications” Fr. Uzhunnalil is still alive. Although none of the parties will confirm or deny, the phrasing of the statements indicate that the bishop and the priest’s order are in negotiations for Fr. Uzhunnalil’s release.

  • I hope he is still alive, although ISIS has a history of pretending people are alive who already have been murdered by them.

  • Carthago delenda est !

  • FWIW: I did some quick research. Both the Mercedarian (Royal, Celestial and Military Order of Our Lady of Mercy and the Redemption of the Captives aka Our Lady of Ransom) and the Trinitarian (Order of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Captives) orders are still around and active in numerous countries. Both of these orders got their start as orders who collected alms to be used in ransoming Christians captured by the Muslims, and would have as their fourth vow (in addition to chastity, obedience, and poverty) the promise to offer themselves as a sacrifice or hostage in the place of any of the hostages who were in danger of losing faith. Nowadays, they work at ransoming people from poverty, visiting those in prison, and the like. I’m wondering if any of the members of those orders have given any thought to returning to one of their original charisms: ransoming those captured by Muslims.

  • “I hope he is still alive, although ISIS has a history of pretending people are alive who already have been murdered by them.”


    They tied the hands of man with barbed wire.
    And dug shallow graves at the edge of the wood.
    There would be no truth in his last testament.
    They wanted him anonymous for good.

    The planetary empire was at hand.
    They said what was speech and what was listening.
    The ash had hardly cooled after the great fire
    When Diocletian’s Rome again stood glistening.

    – Czeslaw Milosz , The Wormwood Star

  • Ceterum autem censeo Islam esse delendam

  • bill bannon and William P. Walsh: Thank you for the explanations. If only our pontiff would follow that line of thought. I would say that maybe PF would wake up if the Barbarians were at the gates of Rome. Unfortunately the Barbarians are already inside the gates.
    Muzhik: Ransoming prisoners of the Muslims goes way back in time. Interesting to know about those orders. Perhaps they are still doing it, but on the QT. Unlike the pope and our US president not everyone wants the spotlight on their efforts or negotiations.

  • Hundreds of Christians have been ransomed recently in Syria. Here is the most recent one: http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/news/?p=46628

  • Well-done, Bannon, Walsh et al.

    I understand that the present pontiff has picked out his burial memorial site next to (???) Paul Vi’s tomb—historically, the least visited pontifical burial site in the Vatican Grottoes.
    Since PF very commonly foreshadows unwittingly what is foremost on his mind — such as various homily comments prior to Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Si, the disastrous Synod on the oxymoronic “family””— coupled with his apparent examination for brain cancer reported last October by La Quotadiana—all this contributes to his ever-jumbled thinking and more-insistent redoubling of his efforts for his various left-oriented causes.

    I am only observing: I wish no man (excepting terrorists) dead: I hope he has all the time God wishes him to prepare, as I hope for all of us. But something seems to be “up”.

  • We are Catholics, not Quakers. There is a time for peace and a time for war, to sell our cloak and buy a sword, and train our arms to bend the brazen bow, our fingers to war. However, this is from a seventy-five year old whose uniform is in a closet.

  • Stephen,
    .
    What makes you think he is going up? After all, he was the one to say, “Who am I to judge?”

  • Obama and Hillary armed and bank-rolled ISIS and umpy-upht trror groups in their (fiasco upon fiasco) state dept. policies starting the Syrian civil war to oust Bashir al-Assad. With whom did they expect to replace him?
    .
    Obama’s and his impotent, incompetent administration’s policies are based on the myth that the only way to defeat terrorism is to ignore it.
    .
    The US has been most (in the West) successful In assimilating Muslim immigrants. Polls show about 50% are happy with our way of life, display US flags on cars or houses, etc.
    .
    That’s not so great. It means that about 1,500,000 Muslims in America execrate liberty and our way of life. Let’s say one-in-one-hundred will actively aid and abet, or go “tactical.” That’s 15,000 out to kill us.
    .
    It’s time to tell Obama, Hillary, and their imbecilic worshipers to “Go to Hell.” Stop pretending that Islam is a religion. Act accordingly.

  • Let us say ten percent of Muslims are dedicated to a strict interpretation of the Koran. Of 1.6 billion Muslims, we might have 160 million potential Jihadists. That is more than 130 times the number of United States men under arms at the close of World War Two. Let us say one percent are fit and well disposed for combat and we have 16 million. Yet Obama thinks climate change is an existential threat. I think Obama is the existential threat.

  • WPW, you have that correct. DOD has been told to promulgate that Climate Change is the primary threat to the security of the US.

  • Lucius QC, my reference to “something seems to be ‘up'” is that, besides his various comments about being pope a short time (I guess we can discard that as factual), there have been at least 2 episodes where he has significantly stumbled and virtually fallen in public; there is the persistent and solid-appearing report of his medical exam in Oct. 2015 in Quotidiano Nazionale regarding P. Francis’ medical appointment for a brain tumor, the original report appearing about Oct. 21, 2015:

    http://www.quotidiano.net/papa-tumore-1.1409653

    ..and besides him looking ghastly and losing weight over the last year, he selected his burial place in the Vatican Grottoes.

    Federico Lombardi denied he had seen world-renowned cancer expert Dr Takanori Fukushima—and yet it was later confirmed PF had in fact met him “at a papal audience.” A small select papal audience. Um-hmm. Right.

    Along with his various light-headed comments, esp. on air flights—a symptom common among medicated patients perhaps fighting cancer—to me at least, “something is ‘up.'”

Scandalous Priest and Glorious Martyr

Wednesday, July 9, AD 2014

Martyrs-of-Gorkum

(This post is from 2012.  I will be reposting it each July 9.)

 

When July 9 rolls around each year I am always reminded of my personal belief that before our end, perhaps especially for those of us sunk deep in sin, God gives us an opportunity to atone and turn aside from the downward path.

In Sixteenth Century Holland one of the longest wars in history began between Spain and Dutch rebels.  The war was waged on both sides with sickening atrocities.  Among the most violent were the Sea Beggars, Dutch patriots or pirates depending upon one’s point of view.  In June of 1572 the Sea Beggars took the Dutch town of Gorkum, and captured nine Franciscan priests, Nicholas Pieck, Hieronymus of Weert, Theodorus van der Eem, Nicasius Janssen, Willehad of Denmark, Godefried of Mervel, Antonius of Weert, Antonius of Hoornaer, and Franciscus de Roye, of Brussels.  Two Franciscan lay brothers were also captured:   Petrus of Assche and Cornelius of Wyk.

The Sea Beggars also captured the parish priest of Gorkum, Leonardus Vechel of Boi-le-Duc, and his assistant, Nicolaas Janssen.  Also imprisoned were Father Godefried van Duynsen and Joannes Lenartz of Oisterwijk, director of the convent of Augustinian nuns in Gorkum.  Later imprisoned was a Domincan priest Joannes van Hoornaer who bravely came to Gorkum to minister to his imprisoned colleagues and joined them in their captivity,  Jacobus Lacops of Oudenaar, a priest of Monster, Holland, Adrianus Janssen of Brielle, and last, and no doubt he would say least, the subject of this post, Andreas Wouters of Heynoord.

To be blunt, Andreas Wouters had been a lousy priest.  A drunkard and notorious womanizer,  he had fathered several children.  Suspended from his duties  he was living in disgrace when the Sea Beggars captured Gorkum.  This was his cue to run as far away as possible, based on his past history.  Instead, perhaps understanding that God was giving him maybe his last chance to redeem himself, he volunteered to join the captive priests and brothers.

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3 Responses to Scandalous Priest and Glorious Martyr

  • I love this posting, every year. I was thinking about it when we were talking about St. Thomas More’s martyrdom. Fast or slow, to give up one’s life for the faith is tremendous.

    There really are only two moments for which we’re accountable: now and the hour of our deaths. We’re not accountable for tomorrow, and if we’re in a holy state we’re not accountable for yesterday. The only moments that matter are this moment and our final moment. Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death, that we may offer up our current and our last moments to God.

  • Amen Pinky! Saint Andreas Wouters gives hope to us all as we stumble through this Vale of Tears. Repentance and courage can make a life end well even though our sins be as scarlet. A new life of grace and joy beyond our imaginations always beckons as long as we draw breath.

  • Thank you @Donald R. McClarey! Very uplifting!
    .
    Martyrs of Gorkum, pray for us that we persevere and be faithful to the end whatever may come [it is here already].

July 6, 1535: Martyrdom of Saint Thomas More

Sunday, July 6, AD 2014

Imagine facing death and being able to escape it by signing your name to a bit of parchment.  By your signature you would also be released from jail, the fortune of your family restored and you restored to your family.  Now imagine that all your friends and family are begging your to sign your name.  Such was the dilemma confronting Saint Thomas More.  It took clearly superhuman courage for him to go to his death in spite of all of this, and in spite of all evidence that his act was simply an act of futility that would not stop Henry from building his new church.

I have always thought that martyrdom, never easy, is simpler when it comes suddenly and one’s blood is hot with adrenaline pounding through your veins.  Then heroism can stand out as the sudden culmination of one’s life, with one passing swiftly to eternal reward.  How much harder is the type of cold martyrdom suffered by Saint Thomas More, a gradual thing spanning over a year, with every second Saint Thomas More having to fight off the temptation to simply sign his name and save his life.

In his Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, written while in the Tower, Saint Thomas explains the source from which he drew his strength:

When we feel us too bold, remember our own feebleness. When we feel us too faint, remember Christ’s strength. In our fear, let us remember Christ’s painful agony that himself would for our comfort suffer before his passion to the intent that no fear should make us despair. And ever call for his help such as himself wills to send us. And then need we never to doubt but that either he shall keep us from the painful death, or shall not fail so to strengthen us in it that he shall joyously bring us to heaven by it. And then doeth he much more for us than if he kept us from it. For as God did more for poor Lazarus in helping him patiently to die of hunger at the rich man’s door than if he had brought to him at the door all the rich glutton’s dinner, so, though he be gracious to a man whom he delivereth out of painful trouble, yet doeth he much more for a man if through right painful death he deliver him from this wretched world into eternal bliss.

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8 Responses to July 6, 1535: Martyrdom of Saint Thomas More

  • I believe Saint Thomas More possessed more courage than I would ever have. I believe I would have signed the paper and then taken my family and fled for France, Spain or Portugal and subsequently renounced the document I signed.

    I found a documentary on YouTube this morning about the foreigners who escaped to London at the onset of WWII and fought for the Allies in the Battle of Britain. The 303rd Squadron was made up of mostly Polish fighter pilots who wanted to destroy the Germans. They fought hard and well.

    I would have taken their approach if faced with a situation such as Thomas More. I would have done almost anything to escape Henry Tudor, take my family out of England and live where I could be Catholic.

  • The Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation is excellent reading.
    It is, perhaps, worth noting that, in the 16th century and long afterwards, “comfort” was used in its Latin sense of con-fortare, literally to strengthen together or to fortify. The prefix con- can also have a generally intensive force; rumpere=to break, corrumpere=to destroy; tristare=to crush, contristare (whence contrition)=to pulverise.
    We find the old sense in the phrase, “giving aid and comfort.”

  • Thank you, Don.

  • Penguins Fan: It was a polish repatriot who cracked Hitler’s code.
    .
    Thomas More now Saint Thomas More sent his daughter, her husband and his wife, Alice, to another country each by a separate route before he was martyred, all without signing the Act of Supremacy. More exemplified “To thy own self be true.”

  • And More was a political man. I don’t mean that in any negative sense; he was simply the kind of man who in any society would rise to the top. He was, in every sense, a natural. It’s hard for naturally great men to be supernatural. For More to be willing to become Lazarus, when he was seemingly born to be the rich man, is miraculous.

  • Who said ehhem one cannot be a good Catholic and a good politician? Of course, there is indeed (always is) a cost. The Catholic-any one of us-needs to be ready and willing for for the cost factor [major point of Saint John Paul’s Encyclical Veritatis Splendor]

  • Thomas More might have been very pleased when Benedict 16 stood in Westminster Abbey which had been previously dedicated to the first pope, Saint Peter ( by
    Edward the Confessor) and spoke to the question of authority that Thomas died for. that same questions, as b16 said, is of primary importance again, in this generation.

    “Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved?”

  • St. Thomas Moore is the name of the saint under which I came into the Catholic Church. For those who don’t know me, let me state simply that I have accessed the strength that Sir Thomas Moore called upon on many, many occasions. I am currently calling upon it. Praise be to God and His beloved Son, Jesus Christ who gives us the strength and character of Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit!

Good King Wenceslaus, Saint Stephen and Martyrdom

Thursday, December 26, AD 2013

But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

              Cosmas of Prague, writing in 1119 about Saint King Wenceslaus

It has always seemed appropriate to me that the hymn Good King Wenceslaus, written in 1853, ties together Saint Stephen and Saint King Wenceslaus.  Saint Stephen is the original martyr of Christ, the first of that glorious line of Christians who have testified to their Faith in the God who died for them by surrendering their own lives for Him.  The Apostles had cut poor figures indeed on the night when Christ was betrayed, and Saint Stephen heroically and unforgettably demonstrated a better example, that would be followed by the Apostles themselves who later died as martyrs.  Bravery in the face of a martyr’s death takes a great deal of courage and faith, and we Catholics have ever honored our martyrs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3pcIKNttLU

Wenceslaus was born in 907 into a turbulent time and place.  The eldest son of Duke Vratislaus I of Bohemia, Bohemia was a country that was only beginning to convert to Christianity and was riven by conflicts between pagans and Christians, Germans and Czechs.  His mother Drahomira was the daughter of a pagan tribal leader and had only converted at the time of her marriage.  His father’s father was a Christian convert.   

At the death of his father, in battle, in 921, his paternal grandmother, Ludmilla, briefly held the regency.  His mother, Drahomira, who was a real piece of work, remained a pagan at heart, and had Ludmilla strangled. (Ludmilla, who had always been noted for her charity and her strong Christian faith, was canonized shortly after her death.)  Wenceslaus was now under the control of his murderous mother.  In 924 or 925 Wenceslaus began to rule and exiled his mother, understandably enough. 

During his reign he was noted for his charity and the strong impetus he gave to the evangelization of Bohemia.  He placed great reliance on Catholic missionary priests from Germany and this stirred resentment not only among his pagan subjects, but among some Czechs.  Taking advantage of this opposition, his brother Boleslav had Wenceslaus murdered as he was walking to mass in 935.  From the instant of his death, Wenceslaus was hailed as a martyr and swiftly became the patron saint of Bohemia.  Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, bestowed the title of king upon him, posthumously.  His brother, who would reign for almost four decades, was remorseful for what he had done, helped spread Christianity throughout his kingdom during his reign and venerated the man he had murdered as a saint.  His feast day on September 28 is celebrated as a national holiday in the Czech Republic.

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5 Responses to Good King Wenceslaus, Saint Stephen and Martyrdom

Scandalous Priest and Glorious Martyr

Tuesday, July 9, AD 2013

 (This post is from 2012.  I will be reposting it each July 9.)

 

When July 9 rolls around each year I am always reminded of my personal belief that before our end, perhaps especially for those of us sunk deep in sin, God gives us an opportunity to atone and turn aside from the downward path.

In Sixteenth Century Holland one of the longest wars in history began between Spain and Dutch rebels.  The war was waged on both sides with sickening atrocities.  Among the most violent were the Sea Beggars, Dutch patriots or pirates depending upon one’s point of view.  In June of 1572 the Sea Beggars took the Dutch town of Gorkum, and captured nine Franciscan priests, Nicholas Pieck, Hieronymus of Weert, Theodorus van der Eem, Nicasius Janssen, Willehad of Denmark, Godefried of Mervel, Antonius of Weert, Antonius of Hoornaer, and Franciscus de Roye, of Brussels.  Two Franciscan lay brothers were also captured:   Petrus of Assche and Cornelius of Wyk.

The Sea Beggars also captured the parish priest of Gorkum, Leonardus Vechel of Boi-le-Duc, and his assistant, Nicolaas Janssen.  Also imprisoned were Father Godefried van Duynsen and Joannes Lenartz of Oisterwijk, director of the convent of Augustinian nuns in Gorkum.  Later imprisoned was a Domincan priest Joannes van Hoornaer who bravely came to Gorkum to minister to his imprisoned colleagues and joined them in their captivity,  Jacobus Lacops of Oudenaar, a priest of Monster, Holland, Adrianus Janssen of Brielle, and last, and no doubt he would say least, the subject of this post, Andreas Wouters of Heynoord.

To be blunt, Andreas Wouters had been a lousy priest.  A drunkard and notorious womanizer,  he had fathered several children.  Suspended from his duties  he was living in disgrace when the Sea Beggars captured Gorkum.  This was his cue to run as far away as possible, based on his past history.  Instead, perhaps understanding that God was giving him maybe his last chance to redeem himself, he volunteered to join the captive priests and brothers.

Continue reading...

15 Responses to Scandalous Priest and Glorious Martyr

  • “St. Stephen’s answer (Acts, vii) was a long recital of the mercies of God towards Israel during its long history and of the ungratefulness by which, throughout history, Israel repaid God’s mercies. This discourse contained many things unpleasant to Jewish ears; but the concluding indictment for having betrayed and murdered the Just One whose coming the Prophets had foretold, provoked the rage of an audience made up not of judges, but of foes. When Stephen “looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God”, and said: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (vii, 55), […] “falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (vii, 59). […] The praying martyr was thrown down; […] he was heard to utter this supreme prayer: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (vii, 58). Little did all the people present, casting stones upon him, realize that the blood they shed was the first seed of a harvest that was to cover the world.”

  • “Fornicator I always was, heretic never.”
    And so he ended his life in truth, like the Good Thief:
    One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
    It has been observed that the dying thief’s prayer is the most extraordinary instance of faith in the whole of Scripture – praying to a fellow convict as if he were indeed the God that the whole situation seems to mock. But then his fellow convict was indeed God. And God is truth. And by stating boldly and with no recrimination the truth about himself – “we are receiving what we deserve” – he has stepped into truth, truth with no ifs nor buts, in the presence of Truth Itself. He is already in Paradise; he only has to realize it. And so that lousy priest who admitted before everyone that everything they said of him was true was, by the very act, in the truth – and “heretic, never”. “I tell you in truth, tonight you shall be with me in Paradise.”

  • I share your belief, Don, or at least I hope it is true. I have often speculated about the possibilty that God might even give us this chance after our earthly deaths. For this reason I’m inclined to think that pride is the most dangerous sin, because it is the one most likely to impede our atonement. I have encountered people who despise Christianity and faith generally, and who believe we are dupes to believe in a God who would encumber us with a morality that can preclude self-actualization. The common denominator among such people is inordinate pride, especially intellectual pride (usually unwarranted of course). Some percentage of these people will simply be unwilling or unable to express the humility required for atonement, even in the face of God Himself.

  • I have always agreed with the Church that pride is the deadliest of sins, and I have more than a bit of that sin myself. The saving grace for me has come in the form of the Faith, a sense of the absurd, always a good solvent for pride, and chastening experiences to prove to me that I am never as smart as I believe I am.

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  • Thanks for re-posting–this story is one of my favorites!

  • Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

    The First Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary: The Annunciation. Meditation: Actively desire love of humility. Think of the humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary when the Angel Gabriel greeted her with these words, “Hail full of grace!”

    Arrogance, avarice, hubris, pride: the definition of heretic: one who places her/his opinions ahead of the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

    Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Awe, Courage, Knowledge, Reverence, Right Judgment, Understanding, Wisdom, Wonder

    Regarding the seven deadly sins:

    Replace pride with humility
    Replace greed with generosity
    Replace envy with love
    Replace anger with kindness
    Replace lust with self-control
    Replace gluttony with temperance
    Replace sloth with zeal (for the Glory of God)

    Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Faithfulness, Goodness, Humility, Kindness, Love, Joy, Patience, Self-control

  • You could repost this every week and I’d be happy. This is such a hopeful story.

  • “I have always agreed with the Church that pride is the deadliest of sins…”

    I think Aquinas might have thought envy was. Pride at least was an inflated sense of self. Envy was pure hatred for the possessions of another.

    Think the “social justice” crowd.

  • To put it a bit more Thomistically, Pride was a disordered sense of one’s goods, envy a hatred of the good of another.

  • The word heresy etymologically has something to do with making a choice.
    Paradox- though he had succumbed to the deadly sin of lust (exaltation of bodily pleasure) he did choose life (Deut 30:19), when he chose to suffer bodily death for his Faith.

  • I always read the best stories on this site. Thank you!

  • Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…

    Thanks Donald. I’m glad you put this out.
    -from a prodigal son.

  • Wow. “Fornicator I always was;Heretic I never was.” Fill in the blank (or leave it as it is) and that is a new prayer for any one of us.

  • At least if at the time it is being uttered one is dying for being a Catholic.

40 Martyrs of England and Wales and Cardinal Newman

Tuesday, October 25, AD 2011

In so many ways we moderns are pygmies who stand on the shoulders of giants.  One group of giants for all English-speaking Catholics is the 40 martyrs of England and Wales who were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 25, 1970.   They deserve to be remembered for their heroic deaths for Christ, and here are their names:

3 Carthusians:

  • Augustine Webster  d.1535
  • John Houghton  1486-1535
  • Robert Lawrence   d.1535

1 Augustinian friar:

  • John Stone  d. 1538

1 Brigittine:

  • Richard Reynolds  d. 1535

2 Franciscans:

  • John Jones   d. 1598 (Friar Observant – also known as John Buckley, John Griffith, or Godfrey Maurice)
  • John Wall   d. 1679 (Franciscan  – known at Douai and Rome as John Marsh, and by other aliases while on the mission in England)

3 Benedictines:

  • John Roberts   d. 1610
  • Ambrose Barlow  d. 1641
  • Alban Roe   d. 1642

10 Jesuits:

  • Alexander Briant   1556-81
  • Edmund Campion   1540-81
  • Robert Southwell   1561-95
  • Henry Walpole    1558-95
  • Nicholas Owen   1540-1606
  • Thomas Garnet    1575-1608
  • Edmund Arrowsmith  1585–1628
  • Henry Morse   1595-1644
  • Philip Evans   1645-79
  • David Lewis   1616-79

13 Priests of the Secular Clergy:

  • Cuthbert Mayne   1543–77
  • Ralph Sherwin    1558-81
  • Luke Kirby    1549-82
  • John Paine    d. 1582
  • John Almond    d. 1585
  • Polydore Plasden    d. 1591
  • Eustace White   1560-91
  • Edmund G(J)ennings   1567-91
  • John Boste    1544-94
  • John Southworth   1592-1654
  • John Kemble    1599-1679
  • John Lloyd     d. 1679
  • John Plessington   d. 1679

7 members of the laity

4 lay men:

  • Richard Gwyn  1537-84
  • Swithun Wells  1536-91
  • Philip Howard  1557-95
  • John Rigby  1570-1600   and

3 lay women, all of them mothers:

  • Margaret Clitherow  1586
  • Margaret Ward  1588
  • Anne Line  1601

They were torches that God sent to us to light our way in a frequently dark world.  They were representatives of hundreds of martyrs who died for the Faith in England and Wales in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.  With the Anglican Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict perhaps what Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman said in the Nineteenth Century will come true in the Twenty-First:

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5 Responses to 40 Martyrs of England and Wales and Cardinal Newman

  • Donald,

    I do not know much about history, but both sides – Protestant and Catholic – had shed more than its fair share of blood. Didn’t Mary I of England (a Catholic) burn at the stake 280 religious dissenters in what are called “The Marian Persecutions?”

    Every time I read little about this time in history, I shudder to think of the atrocities that both sides – Catholic and Protestant – committed against each other.

    🙁

  • 284. An excellent recent study of the Marian Persecution was written by Eamon Duffy:

    http://www.amazon.com/Fires-Faith-Catholic-England-under/dp/0300152167

    The Tudors were all persecutors. Under Bad Queen Bess some 312 Irish and Catholic martyrs died, although, strangely enough, she has a reputation in history for tolerance, which would have been regarded as a bad joke by almost all of her Catholic subjects, probably the majority of her subjects until well into her reign.

    Saint Peter Canisius, who helped reverse the Reformation in Austria and southern Germany in the Sixteenth Century, regarded the persecutions of his day as against the example of Christ:

    “It is plainly wrong to meet non-Catholics with bitterness or to treat them with discourtesy. For this is nothing else than the reverse of Christ’s example because it breaks the bruised reed and quenches the smoking flax. We ought to instruct with meekness those whom heresy has made bitter and suspicious, and has estranged from orthodox Catholics, especially from our fellow Jesuits. Thus, by whole-hearted charity and good will we may win them over to us in the Lord.

    Again, it is a mistaken policy to behave in a contentious fashion and to start disputes about matters of belief with argumentative people who are disposed by their very natures to wrangling. Indeed, the fact of their being so constituted is a reason the more why such people should be attracted and won to the simplicity of the faith as much by example as by argument.”

    It was an intolerant age, although what strikes me is how quickly it ended, when viewed through the prism of 2000 years of Christian history. By 1700 the bloodiest of religious persecutions were largely ended, only to be reawakend by the birth of totalitarianism with the French Revolution and the persecution of both Catholics and Protestants by worshipers of the power of the State. Fascism and Communism, when viewed by future historians, may be regarded as variants of the Emperor worship that confronted the earliest Christians.

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  • As an American of partial English descent (and last name Bryant, although no relation to the martyr Briant that I am aware of) I would like to know why this feast day doesn’t seem to be a priority on the U.S. calendar. We take a lot of our culture and obviously language from Britain, plus we are still living here the effects of the Reformation there. Obviously had Henry VIII not acted as he had the U.S. would be a predominantly Cathlic nation. Are we afraid of offending Protestants (or Latinos) ?

  • I doubt if it is concern for offending anyone since we sing Faith of Our Fathers regularly at Mass and that song, although doubtless most singers are unaware of it, directly refers to the persecution of Catholics by the English government. Additionally Irish Catholics, which make up a large proportion of the Church in America, are always ready to point out English persecutions. In England the feast day has been moved to May 4 and now includes an additional 85 martyrs:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighty-five_martyrs_of_England_and_Wales

Von Galen on Martyrdom

Sunday, April 3, AD 2011

 

In my first post on Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, which may be read here, we examined the life of this remarkable German bishop who heroically stood up to the Third Reich.  Today we examine a sermon that he preached at the Cathedral of Saint Victor’s in Xanten, Germany on February 9, 1936, long before the three sermons that he preached in 1941 which made him famous around the globe.  Prior examinations of his 1941 sermons may be read  herehere and here.

I have just consecrated a new altar in your venerable and splendid cathedral,in a small space deep beneath the choir. But why? Your church is already so richly endowed with altars.

Beginning a sermon with a question is an approach that I wish more priests and bishops would use.  It engages the minds of the listeners from the outset.

You know the answer. The researches of the past few years have given proof that there below us lies a holy and particularly venerable place. Not only has the tradition been substantiated, according to which several previous churches were said to stand on the site of this present church, the oldest of them dating back to the time of the martyrs, to the fourth century A.D. We are also provided with fresh evidence that holy martyrs, who with their blood bore witness to Christ, were interred here, to await the resurrection. We believe in the resurrection of the body. Christ’s words have given us this promise: The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. Whosoever does not
believe in the independent life of the individual soul, in its continued existence after the death of the body, in its reunification with the bodyand in life everlasting, this man is no true Christian. We hold these beliefs, because we believe in Christ, who is the truth. Because we hold fast to the beliefs of the Apostles and of our Christian forebears. The entire history of your city, speaking to you through the its towering churches, which are monuments in stone, proclaiming itself in the stones found lying beneath them, is evidence of our faith.

The martyrs have always been the human bedrock for Catholicism, from Saint Stephen, the first of the ever glorious martyrs, to our own day with the recent martyrdom of the brave Shahbaz Bhatti.

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2 Responses to Von Galen on Martyrdom

  • Wonderful and inspiring personal stories and history.

    We certainly need to be reminded of the brave souls throughout Christian history who, threatened with death, were willing to give their very life in sacrifice to Christ and His church rather than submit to the taunts or wiles of evil forces besieging mankind. These are true martyrs for the faith having chosen death of body over life without Christ.

    There is also another kind of martyrdom which our faith from time to time begs us to endure. That is a death of character to the status quo of elitist society. This sometimes is more painful than martyrdom by the sword because you must live with the “stigmata” of it in full view of your adversary or would be executioner. In our age and with the freedom granted to the minds of men in our multicultural “open society” which is pleased to challenge all Christian values there is great need for Culture Martyrdom.

    All of us, but bishops in particular, are given ample opportunities today to offer ourselves as candidates for a kind of martyrdom and stigma of conviction that goes with living and expressing our faith to the fullest with out regard for the cross of conscience a misguided media or pompous intellectuals will place upon us. Aptly named, the culture of death is upon us today and we pray it will be met with a huge wave of these most needed martyrs.

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Shahbaz Bhatti: Martyr For the Faith

Thursday, March 3, AD 2011

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  Courage and Faith.  Abstractions to many, meaningless phrases to some, to others they are a way of life.  Shahbaz Bhatti was in the last category.  His faith was obvious to all.  As a Roman Catholic in overwhelmingly Islamic Pakistan he was tireless in spreading the Truth of Christ, and in standing up for the rights of Christians in Pakistan.  Appointed Minister of Defense of Minorities in the Pakistan government, he took on the position, knowing full well that he was signing his death warrant.  Death threats against him were constant.  As constant was his speaking out for the rights of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan.  After leaving his government office each day, he would head over to the offices of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, working late into the night to continue aiding Pakistan’s embattled minorities.

He never married, thinking it unfair to put a wife and children in the cross-hairs in which he lived.  On March 2, 2011 he was visiting his mother.  After he left his car was sprayed with bullets and he was killed.  The murderers of Al Qaeda and the Taliban have claimed responsibility.

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14 Responses to Shahbaz Bhatti: Martyr For the Faith

  • It is brave men such as this that make me rethink my agnosticism. Though I retain doubts, I hope that he will have a special place in heaven along with other courageous and dedicated martyrs to the faith.

  • Eternal rest grant unto him!

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  • I agree whole heartedly with what you have posted.
    “No man has ever measured love,
    Or weighed it in his hand.
    But God who knows the inmost heart,
    Gives them the promised land.”

  • I bow my head in honour of this courageous and principled martyr of our Christian faith.

  • Joe Green: I pray that through the example and the intercession of that brave Catholic martyr, Mr. Bhatti, that you will embrace the love and forgiveness and invitation of our Lord Jesus Christ! If Mr. Bhatti’s martyrdom is used by God to bring just one soul–yours!–to Heaven–his death will not be in vain!

    May God bless you, Joe Green, and may our most holy and tender Mother Mary enfold you in Her sacred and loving arms!

  • Thanks, Linda. The Hound of Heaven always pursues me. Some day I hope to take His Hand and walk with Him.

  • Joe,

    The Hound of Heaven continues to pursue me even though I took his hand long ago. He keeps wanting to teach and love me (and you) more and more each day.

    Prayers for you and have a good weekend.

  • “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

  • And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

  • My soul weeps for this just and good man. Oh Pakistan, must you kill those sons who yearned to bring you out of the darkness. How long will you suffered them to be killed. Those who pursue their beliefs through the killing of their brethren will never have peace in their country nor in their lives. How I wish they would spend more time in mediation and the pursue of truth instead of violence. I trust in the Lord’s ability to bring good of this evil. Rest in peace my brother.

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5 Responses to Another Martyr for the Faith in Turkey

  • Turkey, once moderate, has become increasingly militant in recent years. Those who welcome Turkey’s belligerent stance against Israel should be reminded of a radical iman’s statement several years ago: “First we will come for the Saturday people and then it will be the turn of the Sunday people.”

    In reality, the radicals are not waiting until they get all the “Saturday people.” They’re more than happy to kill us Sunday people too when they have the chance.

  • But, “The Vatican” has stated that it was an unbalanced depressed Kurd.

  • Jeff,

    I’m confused by your comment.

    As Christians we forgive and pray for all those involved.

  • God Bless all the martyrs who were standing up for peace in the MIddle East. I am praying that these Muslim extremists feel the presence of God, that God changes their hardened hearts so that they may love people instead of hating people, and so the Muslim extremists stop this senseless violence.

  • But, Tavis Smiley has asserted that it was an irate, white Republican.

Russian Christian Soldier a Martyr of the Chechen War

Saturday, February 20, AD 2010

This is an fascinating story: a Russian soldier who was killed on his 19th birthday in 1996 is being venerated in his home country as a martyr and an icon of him is giving off aromas of myrrh:

Today according to Inferfax of Russia in  Penza, an Icon of Evgeny Rodinov  gave off aromas of myrrh in the St. Lukas Church at the Penza regional oncologic dispenser. Russian soldier Rodionov was executed in Chechnya in 1996 after refusing to renounce Orthodox faith and take off his cross.

“Myrrh came out in two spots, in a palm of his hand and where one wears the cross,” the church Rector Alexy Burtsev told journalists.

According to the Church Rector, it happened during the All-Night Vigil on February 15.  Those in attendance, at the Church, stood behind praying, and took in the strange pleasant aroma.

The priest noted that on February 15, 1996, Penza-born Evgeny Rodionov was captured in Chechnya, imprisoned for hundred days and when he refused to renounce Christian faith, militants beheaded him.?

Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Rodionov (Russian: ???????? ??????? ?????????????) (May 23, 1977 – May 23, 1996) was a Russian soldier who was kidnapped and later executed in Chechen captivity. The purported manner of his death has garnered him much admiration throughout Russia, and even prompted calls for his elevation to sainthood.

Rodionov was born in the village of Satino-Russkoye, near Podolsk, Moscow Oblast. Though he aspired to be a cook, he was conscripted into the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in 1995. Private Rodionov was deployed to Chechnya, he served in border troops and on February 13, 1996 he was captured by Chechen rebels. They held him captive for more than three months.

On his 19th birthday Rodionov was beheaded on the outskirts of the Chechen village Bamut. According to his killers, who later extorted money from his mother in exchange for knowledge of the location of his corpse, they beheaded him after he refused to renounce his Christian faith or remove the silver cross he wore around his neck.

Yevgeny Rodionov was posthumously awarded the Russian Order of Courage. There is a growing movement within the Russian Orthodox Church to canonize him as a Christian saint and martyr for faith. Some Russian soldiers, feeling themselves abandoned by their government, have taken to kneeling in prayer before his image. One such prayer reads:

Thy martyr, Yevgeny, O Lord, in his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from thee, our God, for having thy strength he has brought down his torturers, has defeated the powerless insolence of demons. Through his prayers save our souls.

As of 2003, religious icons depicting Yevgeny were becoming increasingly popular. Yevgeny’s mother has one herself; she has suggested that the icon of her son sometimes emits a perfume which she believes to be holy, to the extent that it actually drips with it.

Evgeny Rodinov, pray for us!

_._

Reprinted with permission by Eric Sammons of The Divine Life.

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2 Responses to Russian Christian Soldier a Martyr of the Chechen War

Age of Martyrs

Tuesday, June 2, AD 2009

 

Hattip to Southern Appeal.  The executions of Saint John Cardinal Fisher and Saint Thomas More as portrayed in The Tudors.   It was largely because of the courage that these men showed, and the courage  hundreds of other men and women demonstrated who were martyred under the Crowned Monster Henry VIII, his son, and Bloody Elizabeth, that a remnant of the Catholic faith survived for centuries in England, Wales and Scotland, in the face of bitter persecution, until Catholic Emancipation in 1829.

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4 Responses to Age of Martyrs

  • I posted a similar comment over at Feddie’s, but it is unfortunate that they got More’s line wrong: it is “… the King’s good servant AND God’s first.”

    It is important to remember that the obligations are not mutually exclusive. More believed he was serving the best interests of King and country by remaining faithful to God and the Church. In the same way, we best fulfill our patriotic obligations when we remain faithful to what God asks of us.

  • Much prefer the portrayal of Thomas Moore’s martyrdom in A Man For All Seasons.

  • I loved that movie, “A Man for All Seasons”. Thank you for reminding me of it, Anthony.

  • I loved that movie, “A Man for All Seasons”. Thank you for reminding me of it, Anthony.
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!