Bishop Finn on Martyrdom


One of my stumbling blocks is envy. I cannot deny I’m jealous of and respectful of Rock‘s juicy exclusives and firsts. For one night, let me pass on some fresh bishop news, small and humble though it may be.

We hosted our diocese’s annual Serra Club gathering tonight: Mass and dinner with the bishop. Bishop Finn gave a good homily, though I missed the first half hunting down a tabernacle key and getting it to a seminarian.

Anyway, what I caught was the best of the four or five homiles I’ve heard him deliver. He told a disarming story about his experience of reflecting on martyrdom, wondering if he would be able to accept such a “blessing,” and all. After his prayer time, he returned to the sacristy, and cut his finger on a slice of paper in the drawer. After a short time of fussing and getting angry, he realized God had given him his answer rather immediately. “A pathetic martyr” he referred to the situation.

Two gems from his homily:

Christ at Christmas is small. The martyrdoms we are asked to undertake are likewise small: students keeping to their studies, parents caring for spouses and children. The small, but daily things we are asked to do: setting aside our own desires, caring for others.

The true measure of holiness is the willingness to submit to the slow path to sanctification.

Perhaps it seems as if Stephen and the others had it easy, and I’m often reminded of the quote on Amy’s web site, “She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.”

The point seems to be that for almost all of us Christians, we are not being killed “quick,” but we have that arduous and long path with the pitfalls of our own envy, impatience, anger, and other qualities that tear us away from holiness. I don’t pray or reflect much on being a martyr; it enough for me to struggle with being weighed down by daily junk.

Merry Christmas, all!

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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