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PREFACE II OF HOLY MARTYRS
For more information on prefaces in general, see The Eucharistic Prayer (2) and The Eucharistic Prayer (3)
This preface is used for commemorating the saints who’ve sacrificed their lives for Christ.
The wonders of God in the victory of the Martyrs
No one is obliged to seek martyrdom. It is a heroic act of sacrifice and holiness. Our Lord himself didn’t have to die on Calvary; he chose it for love of his Father and for love of us. Each martyr represents an amazing victory: the victory of making life a complete offering to God by laying it down for him, and the victory of God’s grace in that generous soul. For those called to martyrdom the act itself is a crowning achievement of the grace of God with which they’ve cooperated since the first stirring of the Holy Spirit lead to their Baptism, then to the other sacraments, to prayer and sacrifice, to a desire to share the experience of Christ that had become their true joy, to the test of how deep their love for Christ went through an opportunity for extraordinary spiritual heroism.
“For you are glorified when your Saints are praised; their very sufferings are but wonders of your might: in your mercy you give ardor to their faith, to their endurance you grant firm resolve, and in their struggle the victory is yours, through Christ our Lord.”
When we praise the saints for their witness and holiness we don’t just give glory to them, but to Our Lord. If you lay down your life for a cause you underscore its importance and draw attention to it; it’s more important than your own life. We are precious in the eyes of God, his adopted children, yet still his creatures. The Creator is more important than the creature, but when the Lord looks down upon his martyrs he doesn’t simply see creatures carrying out a necessary function for the sake of their Creator, but a son or daughter giving it all for love of their Father.
He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the son fulfilling the promises he had made, but, in the end, didn’t let Abraham go through with it. He didn’t spare his own Son, and his Son offered himself willingly to show the greatest love. Martyrdom is not easy; it implies suffering, faith, endurance, and struggle on our part, as well as fidelity to God’s grace.
In our own struggles for holiness, we may not face everything a martyr would, but we can count on God as well to help us love him and others, both as he and they deserve. Let’s not shy away from any special invitations to sanctity that Our Lord extends; they may not be to the point of shedding blood, but they will give him glory and help us grow in love.
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