‘ . . . S. Adrian, Martyr, who in the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian was first cast to a lion for the faith of Christ at the command of the governor Firmilian; and afterwards, his throat being cut by a sword, received the crown of martyrdom.’
So runs one entry in the Martyrology for today, 5th March : and I thought that S. Adrian was worth remembering for a moment.
The Martyrology doesn’t actually tell us why S. Adrian was martyred; but given that it was during the Diocletian persecution, one can guess that it was ‘ex odio fidei’. – ‘out of hatred for the Faith’.
Look what he had to endure, though : he was thrown to the lions, and afterwards had his throat cut. One may speculate why the lions didn’t kill him themselves; but during the persecution of Diocletian they were probably suffering from overwork and chronic obesity, so perhaps the need for a final coup de grace is not altogether surprising.
The critical point, though, is that he was willing to go through all that . . . and why ? Because he was a Catholic Christian, who felt that the truth of the Faith was worth standing up for . . . even if that meant standing up to a lion, or an executioner with a sword.
Are we really fit descendants of our predecessors in the Faith ?
No-one is talking about martyrdom – except perhaps by pinpricks; and yet how many of us, certainly in the Western World, are really standing up for the Faith.
The Government’s obsessions are irritating us; but why ? After all, we could eliminate the problem.
How ? Well, to give just one example, how about taking our Catholic Schools out of the ‘state system’, and running them privately – in which case the legislation wouldn’t affect us in the same way. Of course it would cost money; and it would undoubtedly mean that we all had to dig deeper into our pockets to support our Schools once they lost Government funding . . . but then they’d be Catholic Schools, teaching the Catholic Faith.
The problem is, I suspect, that most people don’t want to do that. Why not ? No, not a conviction that our schools are best controlled by the Government : just the pain of the financial cost of ‘going it alone’ without taxpayer’s money.
But is it really too painful ? I wonder if it’s more painful than being thrown to the lions, and then having your throat cut ?
I’m sure that if the Government made Catholicism illegal, and punishable by death, tomorrow, we’d have a fine new crop of English Martyrs. The problem is that this type of martyrdom, where the threshold is constantly being pushed away, just a millimetre or so at a time, isn’t quite so dramatic : you’re never actually being asked to ‘die for the faith’, just asked ‘not to rock the boat’ by accepting something that isn’t really too dreadful . . . is it ?
So by the time you get to the end, you’ve given way on everything else, and it hardly seems worth dying for that last little bit . . . but I wonder how comfortable it will feel on Judgement Day ?
Please : let us tell the Government – and all the political parties – NOW that they will get no support from Catholics unless they state clearly and unequivocally that they pledge an absolute commitment to Life; and (at least) to respect for the Church’s rights to teach its own Faith in its own schools . . .
. . . or should we just find – or found – a political party which supports Christian values, is pro-Life, and will fight against the modern ‘culture of death’ ?