Archive for the ‘Saints’ Category

Thanks to My Patron Saints

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

(Yesterday was my birthday, so I thought I would re-post a blog that I wrote several years ago, for the same occasion)

If you’re like me, you have lots of favorite saints, and lots of saints who you think are looking out for you and helping you.  That’s one of the best things about being Catholic — a regular, daily awareness of the communion of saints. And also, if you’re like me, you had the good fortune to be born on a day on which the Church honors the memory of particular saints.

I’m old enough to have been born when the old Roman Calendar was still in effect.  As a result, I was born on the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas.  I have received many graces through his intercession, including a keen interest in theology and my middle name.  Thomas led a fascinating life, and he wrote so beautifully and deeply on all aspects of the faith that he has been a great gift to my faith.  I am particularly mindful of one of his final thoughts, after having some kind of mystical experience.  He ceased work on a project, and upon being asked by his secretary why he didn’t finish the work, replied “all that I have written seems like straw to me.”  That’s a good reminder that nothing that we could do in this life could ever stand comparison to the glory of God.  As St. Paul said, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil 3:7-8)

When they reformed the Roman Calendar in the Sixties, they decided to move Thomas’ feast to January 28.  Oddly enough, they chose the day that they “translated his relics” — that is, the day they dug up his body and moved it from one resting place to another.

Although I still have some hard feelings about them taking Thomas from me, I have to say that I lucked out again when the Church restored the ancient feast day of Saints Perpetua and Felicity to their proper day.

If you aren’t familiar with Saints Perpetua and Felicity, you should immediately drop all that you are doing and correct this.  Perpetua, a Roman noblewoman, and her slave Felicity, were martyred in 203 A.D., in Carthage.  Perpetua was nursing her baby when arrested, and Felicity was pregnant. Perpetua’s child was taken from her by her family, but Felicity gave birth while imprisoned and the child was adopted by a Christian family.  Perpetua wrote an account of their ordeals in prison with other Christians — one of the earliest written records by a Christian woman.  The story of their witness to Christ is vivid and moving, and should be required reading for all Christians who want a glimpse into the heroism of our ancestors in faith.

The night before their martyrdom, after having celebrated a “love feast” (the ancient name for the Mass) with her fellow prisoners, Perpetua had a dream about being led to the arena by one of the men who had already been martyred, who beckoned her to come and join them.  In the arena, she was beset by a mighty enemy, but she vanquished him and was called to enter the Gate of Life.  Realizing the significance of this dream, she wrote, “I understood that I should fight, not with beasts but against the devil; but I knew that mine was the victory”.

The next day, March 7, Perpetua, Felicity and their companions were taken to the arena, whipped, attacked by wild beasts and slain by gladiators.  They have been honored ever since.  As Tertullian said, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians”.

I certainly do not consider myself to be in the intellectual ballpark of Thomas, or anywhere near as courageous as Perpetua and Felicity.  But I feel very close to them, as if they were my friends, but just separated from me for a short time.  Perhaps one day, if their prayers for me are heard, I will meet them, and I can thank them for their help and friendship.

Thanks to My Patron Saints

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

(Today is my birthday, so I thought I would re-post a blog that I wrote several years ago, for the same occasion)

If you’re like me, you have lots of favorite saints, and lots of saints who you think are looking out for you and helping you.  That’s one of the best things about being Catholic — a regular, daily awareness of the communion of saints. And also, if you’re like me, you had the good fortune to be born on a day on which the Church honors the memory of particular saints.

I’m old enough to have been born when the old Roman Calendar was still in effect.  As a result, I was born on the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas.  I have received many graces through his intercession, including a keen interest in theology and my middle name.  Thomas led a fascinating life, and he wrote so beautifully and deeply on all aspects of the faith that he has been a great gift to my faith.  I am particularly mindful of one of his final thoughts, after having some kind of mystical experience.  He ceased work on a project, and upon being asked by his secretary why he didn’t finish the work, replied “all that I have written seems like straw to me.”  That’s a good reminder that nothing that we could do in this life could ever stand comparison to the glory of God.  As St. Paul said, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil 3:7-8)

When they reformed the Roman Calendar in the Sixties, they decided to move Thomas’ feast to January 28.  Oddly enough, they chose the day that they “translated his relics” — that is, the day they dug up his body and moved it from one resting place to another.

Although I still have some hard feelings about them taking Thomas from me, I have to say that I lucked out again when the Church restored the ancient feast day of Saints Perpetua and Felicity to their proper day.

If you aren’t familiar with Saints Perpetua and Felicity, you should immediately drop all that you are doing and correct this.  Perpetua, a Roman noblewoman, and her slave Felicity, were martyred in 203 A.D., in Carthage.  Perpetua was nursing her baby when arrested, and Felicity was pregnant. Perpetua’s child was taken from her by her family, but Felicity gave birth while imprisoned and the child was adopted by a Christian family.  Perpetua wrote an account of their ordeals in prison with other Christians — one of the earliest written records by a Christian woman.  The story of their witness to Christ is vivid and moving, and should be required reading for all Christians who want a glimpse into the heroism of our ancestors in faith.

The night before their martyrdom, after having celebrated a “love feast” (the ancient name for the Mass) with her fellow prisoners, Perpetua had a dream about being led to the arena by one of the men who had already been martyred, who beckoned her to come and join them.  In the arena, she was beset by a mighty enemy, but vanquished him and was called to enter the Gate of Life.  Realizing the significance of this dream, she wrote, “I understood that I should fight, not with beasts but against the devil; but I knew that mine was the victory”.

The next day, March 7, Perpetua, Felicity and their companions were taken to the arena, whipped, attacked by wild beasts and slain by gladiators.  They have been honored ever since.  As Tertullian said, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians”.

I certainly do not consider myself to be in the intellectual ballpark of Thomas, or anywhere near as courageous as Perpetua and Felicity.  But I feel very close to them, as if they were my friends, but just separated from me for a short time.  Perhaps one day, if their prayers for me are heard, I will meet them, and I can thank them for their help and friendship.

Saints and Public Figures

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

On this day in 1535, John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester in England and newly-created Cardinal, was judicially murdered by the government of England.  His offense?  He defended the validity of marriage, and the authority of the Church to determine what marriage means.

Today we celebrate his feast day, on an ominous day for marriage and the liberty of the Church here in New York.

John Fisher defended the marriage of Queen Catherine to the tyrant King Henry VIII, who wished to have that union dissolved by the Church.  When the Church refused, Henry persecuted and murdered all those who stood for the validity of the marriage, and for the authority of the Church.  John Fisher stood alone among the English episcopacy — every single other bishop sided with the King and against the Holy See.  Other prominent Englishmen also took the side of the marriage and the Church, and paid the price — most notably, of course, the great St. Thomas More.  St. Thomas, and many other English martyrs for the meaning of marriage and the liberty of the Church, share this feast day, and we humbly pray for their intercession.

As we recall the memory of these great witnesses for the truth, powerful men are in Albany redefining marriage, and threatening the liberty of the Church.  They sit behind closed doors, making a mockery of democracy with secret political deals, not disclosing to the public the language of the bill they will soon foist upon us.  That bill will certainly threaten the liberty of the Church to fulfill her apostolic mission, even as it redefines the family and the nature of every marriage.

A few people stand in their way.  A few brave legislators have resisted the inducements, threats and pressures, and are defending the truth.  Ordinary people of all faiths have sacrificed to go to Albany to give witness to their belief in the sanctity of authentic marriage, and to their fears of religious persecution.  They were met with derisory anti-religious chants.

St. John Fisher and the other English martyrs gave their lives to testify to the divine institution of marriage, and to defend the freedom of the Church established by Christ Himself.

Perhaps some people in Albany will receive special graces today, thanks to their intercession.

St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More, all you English Martyrs, please pray for them, and for us.

A Witness to Hope

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Earlier this week, Dr. Bernard Nathanson passed away and entered into eternal life.  Archbishop Dolan will celebrate his funeral Mass on Monday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

In the earlier part of his life, Dr. Nathanson was a leader of the movement to legalize and normalize abortion in American life.  He crafted public arguments — which he later admitted were rooted in falsehood — to justify the changing of laws and morals on abortion.  And he personally performed thousands of abortions himself.

If that were all we could say about his life, it would be odd indeed to be celebrating a funeral Mass for him at our Cathedral.   But that was not all.

Soon after he had accomplished his aims — the legalization of abortion in America — Dr. Nathanson began a remarkable personal and spiritual journey, which he recounted in his autobiography, The Hand of God.

Confronted by the images he saw on fetal sonograms, he became convinced of the humanity of the unborn child and rejected the practice and ideology of abortion.  He became an outspoken pro-life advocate — a most famous and powerful convert to the cause of human life.  He tirelessly denounced the deceptions at the heart of the abortion business, and deeply regretted his role in advancing it. He himself said, “I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age.”  He was deeply oppressed by his complicity in the great evil of abortion, and steered close to despair from the burden of his sins.  Despite this, he continued to resist turning to God for help.

Attending pro-life protests in the late 1980′s, Dr. Nathanson was confronted with something he did not expect.  As he described in his autobiography, he was stunned by the sense of love exhibited by the pro-life protestors.  They sang hymns and offered prayers for the unborn children, the mothers, and the clinic workers, their faces filled with joy.  Their witness of selfless love touched Dr. Nathanson at his core, and he began a new stage of his journey.

He “began to entertain seriously the notion of God — a god who problematically had led me through the proverbial circles of hell, only to show me the way to redemption and mercy through His grace”.  These thoughts about God, “held out a shimmering sliver of Hope to me, in the growing belief that Someone had died for my sins and my evil two millennia ago.”

This was the true turning point of his life — the beginning of his genuine conversion.

Eventually, he was baptized by Cardinal O’Connor in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996 on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, surrounded by pro-life co-workers and friends.  All his sins were washed away in the water of life, and he was re-born anew in the Holy Spirit.  Strengthened by that grace, he continued his ardent pro-life advocacy for the remainder of his life.  He was a leader of the movement, and a mentor and friend to many.  He will be deeply missed.

But, in a larger sense, Dr. Nathanson is an important witness to something that all of us must hold close to our hearts — the virtue of hope.  It would have been easy for an outside observer to give up on him when he was still active in the abortion business, and to despair of any chance of his conversion.  We in the pro-life movement frequently feel this way about others among us — like health professionals who perform or assist in abortions, and public figures who support it.

But we must never give up, because God never gives up on anyone — His grace is indefatigable.  Dr. Bernard Nathanson is a shining example of our hope in the great and inexhaustible mercy of God.

In the famous story of the Prodigal Son, Our Lord told us of the loving, merciful father, who never fails to forgive those who return to him.  When his wastrel son finally came to his senses, rejected his sins, and returned to ask for forgiveness, “his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Lk 15:20).

Let us all pray in hope that Dr. Bernard Nathanson, having now returned home, will be received with compassion and enfolded in the loving embrace and kiss of his merciful Father.

Glorious Saint Joan

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Yesterday, at his regular Wednesday address, the Holy Father continued his series of talks about great female saints by commenting on St. Joan of Arc.

Jehanne the Maid, as she called herself, is one of my favorite saints, and I love her dearly.  She was a beautiful person, simple, devout and strong.  She rose from utter obscurity to accomplish one of the most remarkable feats in human history.  Just consider it — a seventeen-year-old girl, with no military experience whatsoever, leading the army of a defeated and demoralized nation to impossible victories.  Biographers to this day — even cynics like like Mark Twain — find her to be astonishing.

She did this not to glorify herself, but in humble obedience to the will of God, communicated to her through visions of Sts. Michael, Catherine, and Margaret.  She never wanted anything more than to return to her humble home, yet she obeyed God and set aside her own desires.

The price she paid for this devotion was appalling.  After all her triumphs, she was betrayed by her own king whom she raised to the throne, persecuted by hard-hearted enemies and corrupt Churchmen, and eventually put to death in one of the most painful ways imaginable.  Of course, the world could not really recognize her, much as the world never recognized Our Lord.  As the Holy Father noted, her judges “were fundamentally unable to understand her, to see the beauty of her soul: they did not know they were condemning a Saint”.

Joan’s beauty of soul shone through, even in battle and even in the darkest days of her cruelly unfair trial.  Here is what she said at the trial, when asked about who carried her standard (i.e., her flag): “It was I who carried the aforementioned sign when I charged the enemy. I did so to avoid killing any one. I have never killed a man.”  She also wept over the loss of life in battle, strove to minimize it, insisted on sparing prisoners, and comforted dying enemy soldiers.

She is, in my humble opinion, an outstanding example of a brave and Christian warrior, whose love of God inspired all that she did, whose nobility of character inspired deep love and devotion among the hardened soldiers who followed her, and whose courage under persecution is a shining beacon of purity and virtue.  I feel the strength of her patronage, and if I ever make it to heaven, she will be one of the first saints I seek out.

Joan rejected worldly honors, and refused to accept titles for herself.  She never lost sight that serving God was the entire purpose of her mission and her life.  As a sign of this, she wore only one piece of jewelry, a simple gold ring, a gift from her mother, with the plain engraving “+Jhesus+Maria+”.

At her trial, Joan offered a statement that sums up her character, and could have been her battle cry:  “I came from God. There is nothing more for me to do here! Send me back to God, from Whom I came!”

Another Great Priest Returns Home to God

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

I was deeply affected yesterday upon reading of the death, at age 92, of Fr. John Harvey, OSFS.  He was a great priest, and a hero for Christ.

Fr. Harvey is best known as the founder and leader of Courage, the apostolate to those who are experiencing same-sex attraction.  This important work of the Church has helped lead uncounted numbers to live holy chaste lives.  He is also the author of some of the most influential and insightful books about same-sex attraction, especially his essential work, The Homosexual Person.  A short obituary of Fr. Harvey can be found here.

To say that Fr. Harvey met with opposition and resistance to his work would be an understatement.  But he persevered, confident that he was doing God’s will to help men and women be more fully human in their sexuality and their ability to love.

I had the privilege of meeting Fr. Harvey, and I remember him as a kindly, humble, gentle man, with a sharp mind and an engaging smile.  I also recall thinking how honored I was to be in the presence of a man I consider to be a saint.

The important work of Courage will go on without Fr. Harvey.  But I believe that we can have confidence that it will enjoy the intercessory prayers of this holy priest of Jesus Christ, as he celebrates the heavenly liturgy in the presence of the Lord he loved and served so well.

The Holy Father Reminds Us of Our Mission

Friday, November 19th, 2010

All too frequently, I get wrapped up in the daily whirlwind of all the things that I think are important.  And all too infrequently, I fail to keep in mind the real priorities of life, and what my true mission is.

Thank God for Pope Benedict, who never fails to make things perfectly clear.  In the introduction to his new document on Sacred Scripture, Verbum Domini, there is a section entitled “That our joy may be complete”, the Holy Father says this:

I encourage all the faithful to renew their personal and communal encounter with Christ, the word of life made visible, and to become his heralds, so that the gift of divine life – communion – can spread ever more fully throughout the world. Indeed, sharing in the life of God, a Trinity of love, is complete joy (cf. 1 Jn 1:4). And it is the Church’s gift and unescapable duty to communicate that joy, born of an encounter with the person of Christ, the Word of God in our midst. In a world which often feels that God is superfluous or extraneous, we confess with Peter that he alone has “the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). There is no greater priority than this: to enable the people of our time once more to encounter God, the God who speaks to us and shares his love so that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10).  (emphasis added)

In these few simple words, the Holy Father has defined the essence of discipleship, and the path to real happiness.

Thank you, Pope Benedict, for once again making our mission clear.  Now it’s up to me.

Where Would I Be Without These Men?

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Fr. Edward Higgins, OFMCap, baptized me.

Msgr. John Considine gave me my First Holy Communion.  Hundred of other priests have followed in his footsteps and given me the Body of Christ.

Bishop Patrick Ahern confirmed me.

Fr. Frank Corry witnessed my marriage.

Hundreds of priests have heard my Confession and have absolved me of my sins. (I can’t recall who was the first, but God bless him)

I was educated by, among many others, the great Msgr. William Smith.

I have had the privilege of calling many priests my friends.

Where would I be without these men?

This week marks the end of the Year for Priests, as declared by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.  The intention of the year was to call the Catholic people to a deeper awareness of the value of our priests, and to pray for their growth in holiness and virtue.  It was also designed to renew our priests in their sacred vocation, and to encourage them in their witness to Christ in our world.

There have been many great events during this year, particularly the beautiful celebrations in Rome offered by our Holy Father himself.  Archbishop Dolan has worked very hard to reach out to our priests, to boost their morale and to demonstrate to them how much they are valued and loved.

Over the last two weeks, I have had the privilege of seeing most of the priests of the Archdiocese, and many religious priests, at the safe environment program we just put on up at St. Joseph’s Seminary.  It was truly awe-inspiring to stand on the podium and look out at the hundreds of men who have placed themselves in the person of Christ to serve us.

These are the men who have helped me in my life-long struggle with sin, they have mourned and rejoiced with me, and they have led me closer to God.  I couldn’t possible say or do enough to thank them.

It’s good that we’ve had a Year for Priests, and it’s good that we take the time to think about what they’ve meant to us, in our everyday lives.

But to me, it keeps coming back to that same simple question — where would I be without these men?

Configured to Christ

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

A friend of mine recently sent me an email about a conversation she had with a friend.  It was interesting to me, so I thought I would share it publicly (with her permission, and with names changed to protect the innocent).

The email was generated by a talk that had recently been given by a priest about the priesthood.  During that talk, the priest noted that, by virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, priests are “ontologically different” from laypeople.

(For those without a dictionary handy, the word “ontological” is a philosophical term that refers to the study of the nature of a being, asking the question “what is this, in its essence, as opposed to its mere accidental features?”.  This would include a study of how beings can be distinguished from and compared to other kinds of beings.)

Here is what my friend’s interlocutor said about the priest’s talk:

His comment about priests being “ontologically different” is pure clerical ideology. That is the kind of self-serving mindset that makes anti-clerics of the best of us.  There was much grace of the rest of his talk. But that comment nearly made me get up and walk out. I fear for the mental health of young seminarians having to assent to that kind of inflated view of the priesthood—a form of magical thinking, really.

This comment is shocking, in a way, but not too surprising in another.  It shocks me that any Catholic would blithely dismiss the notion that those who receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders are different from laypeople.  After all, we believe that sacraments are not just symbols, or commissioning ceremonies, but that they actually confer the grace they signify.  How can we not be essentially changed when we receive such a direct grace?

But it doesn’t surprise me in another way.  Our modern world tends to look at the priesthood as just a job, a career that some men choose.  If we look at the priesthood in such blandly naturalistic terms, then the comment makes some sense.  But the priesthood is so much more than that.

Here’s what I responded to my friend:

I would recommend to this person that she read a talk given by Cardinal O’Connor, who explained better than anyone I have ever seen what it means to become a priest.  Pope John Paul wrote extensively about this in his apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis.

Here’s a key passage from Cardinal O’Connor:

“In my judgment, this concept of the ontological nature of the priesthood, is critical. We don’t just put on vestments; we don’t just receive an assignment. Neither makes us priests. We become priests at ordination. There is an “ontological change” in our spiritual nature. Such is a profound mystery. Is it too bold an analogy to compare the change to Christ the Son of God’s retaining His Divinity while becoming a man? Or to observe that after bread becomes the Sacred Body of Christ, it still tastes like bread and feels like bread, but is now the Body of Christ? There has been an ontological change. A cup of wine still smells like wine and tastes like it, but it is now the Blood of Christ. At ordination an ontological change takes place.”

The person you spoke to, unfortunately, is stuck with a modernist model of the priesthood that focuses solely on role, activity, and status – as if the priesthood were purely temporal with no regard for the supernatural.  Such is not at all the essence of what it is to be a priest.  Just as in the Sacrament of Baptism, we all are claimed for Christ and transformed in the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell within us, the priest is transformed by the Sacrament of Holy Orders and united with Christ in a bond that is not just imitative of what He did, but that unites him to who He is.  Which is to say:  a sacrifice given for the many for the salvation of the world, a servant of the servants of God, the man who stoops to wash the feet of his disciples and to lift up in healing the sinful woman.

There is nothing of mental illness or arrogance or self-serving here.  If anything, I think an ordinand would be terrified in approaching the altar of ordination, struck down in humility at their unworthiness for such a grace.  The fact that so many men still do this is far from a sign of a mental health problem, but a testament to the heroism that is given them by the Holy Spirit, as on the first day of Pentecost.

Last Saturday, ten men were ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  They weren’t being accepted for a job, they were being configured to Christ Himself.

It is no accident that, during the ordination ceremony, they lay on the floor with their arms outstretched — as if placing their bodies on the Cross with Christ.

In his Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul spoke of the new life in Christ that had come to him in Baptism and faith, but it has special relevance to what happened at the Cathedral on Saturday, and what happens to every man ordained to the priesthood:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

That’s no accident — that’s an ontological change.

Thanks to My Patron Saints

Monday, March 8th, 2010

So, yesterday was my birthday.  And that got me thinking about my patron saints.

If you’re like me, you have lots of favorite saints, and lots of saints who you think are looking out for you and helping you.  That’s one of the best things about being Catholic — a regular, daily awareness of the communion of saints. And also, if you’re like me, you had the good fortune to be born on a day on which the Church honors the memory of particular saints.

I’m old enough to have been born when the old Roman Calendar was still in effect.  As a result, I was born on the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas.  I have received many graces through his intercession, including a keen interest in theology and my middle name.  Thomas led a fascinating life, and he wrote so beautifully and deeply on all aspects of the faith that he has been a great gift to my faith.  I am particularly mindful of one of his final thoughts, after having some kind of mystical experience.  He ceased work on a project, and upon being asked by his secretary why he didn’t finish the work, replied “all that I have written seems like straw to me.”  That’s a good reminder that nothing that we could do in this life could ever stand comparison to the glory of God.  As St. Paul said, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil 3:7-8)

When they reformed the Roman Calendar in the Sixties, they decided to move Thomas’ feast to January 28.  Oddly enough, they chose the day that they “translated his relics” — that is, the day they dug up his body and moved it from one resting place to another.

Although I still have some hard feelings about them taking Thomas from me, I have to say that I lucked out again when the Church restored the ancient feast day of Saints Perpetua and Felicity to their proper day.

If you aren’t familiar with Saints Perpetua and Felicity, you should immediately drop all that you are doing and correct this.  Perpetua, a Roman noblewoman, and her slave Felicity, were martyred in 203 A.D., in Carthage.  Perpetua was nursing her baby when arrested, and Felicity was pregnant. Perpetua’s child was taken from her by her family, but Felicity gave birth while imprisoned and the child was adopted by a Christian family.  Perpetua wrote an account of their ordeals in prison with other Christians — one of the earliest written records by a Christian woman.  The story of their witness to Christ is vivid and moving, and should be required reading for all Christians who want a glimpse into the heroism of our ancestors in faith.

The night before their martyrdom, after having celebrated a “love feast” (the ancient name for the Mass) with her fellow prisoners, Perpetua had a dream about being led to the arena by one of the men who had already been martyred, who beckoned her to come and join them.  In the arena, she was beset by a mighty enemy, but vanquished him and was called to enter the Gate of Life.  Realizing the significance of this dream, she wrote, “I understood that I should fight, not with beasts but against the devil; but I knew that mine was the victory”.

The next day, March 7, Perpetua, Felicity and their companions were taken to the arena, whipped, attacked by wild beasts and slain by gladiators.  They have been honored ever since.  As Tertullian said, “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians”.

I certainly do not consider myself to be in the intellectual ballpark of Thomas, or anywhere near as courageous as Perpetua and Felicity.  But I feel very close to them, as if they were my friends, but just separated from me for a short time.  Perhaps one day, if their prayers for me are heard, I will meet them, and I can thank them for their help and friendship.