St Nicholas Pieck

and his companions, the Martyrs of Gorkum (in the Netherlands) (entered heaven this day 1572)

Dear Nick,

If you ever send me another note so full of thoughtless personal criticisms (of anyone at all, let alone priests and bishops!), I will personally provide my captors with all the contact information they need to apprehend you and send you to a fate even worse than my own.  My dear nephew, write these words of our Lord on a note card and carry it wherever you go: “Do not judge others, or you yourselves will be judged. As you have judged, so you will be judged, by the same rule; award shall be made as you have made award, in the same measure. How is it that you can see the speck of dust which is in your brother’s eye, and are not aware of the beam which is in your own?  By what right will you say to your brother, Wait, let me rid your eye of that speck, when there is a beam all the while in your own? You hypocrite, take the beam out of you own eye first, and so you shall have clear sight to rid you brother’s eye of the speck.” (Matthew 7:1-5) If you have nothing good to say about people, don’t say anything – especially when it comes to pastors of the Church. Pray for them, serve them, don’t buy into their falseness if they have any, but certainly don’t spread an evil reputation around them – let God be their judge.  Take a lesson from today’s saints.

These 19 priests and religious were rounded up in Holland soon after anti-Spanish (and anti-Catholic) Calvinist forces occupied the city of Gorkum.  For nine days they endured cruel and humiliating treatment as their captors tried to “convince” them to reveal the location of the sacred vessels (chalices, ciboria, and patens used in the Mass).  Then they withstood interrogation for two days, and were offered freedom in exchange for denying the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which they refused to do. As complaints were coming in from Gorkum’s magistrates and other nobles, along with appeals from some of the captives’ relatives, the admiral in charge of the Calvinists declared that the prisoners would go free immediately, if only they repudiated the primacy of the Pope, which they again refused to do (Fr Pieck resisted even the impassioned entreaties of his brothers, who heartily urged him to save his skin).  At midnight they were led away to an abandoned monastery. There, in a turf-shed, one by one, they were hanged from the ceiling beams. After the first (Fr Pieck) was pushed from the ladder, as he was dangling, he offered words of encouragement to his brother Catholics. The gruesome sight was too much for some of them, and they abjured their faith. One of those who abjured had been a popular, exemplary priest (you would have had no words of criticism for him), while two of those who stayed unhesitatingly faithful to the Lord had previously been slack and irregular in their vocations, scandalous in fact (you would have railed against them).  It took hours for them to expire, and the executioners began to mutilate some of them even before they had died. May our Lord forgive them.

My dear nephew, we cannot see a man’s heart, and only God knows the strength of virtue dwelling therein.  Half the time we can barely see our own heart! So tone down your harsh words, and learn to see everyone as God does: as potential saints.  And may the prayers of today’s martyrs assist you.

God bless, Uncle Eddy

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