LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Friday, 5 March 2010

At Cæsarea in Palestine . . .

‘ . . . 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’ ?


  1. Good points, you should get(find them first) the Bishop's to tell all Catholics to refuse to vote. Oh, and to make it one of those encyclical thingies, punishable by something dreadful.

    Your post reminded me of this;

    "Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are gradually getting worse - so gradually that the increase in seventy years will not be very noticeable. But it might be absolute hell in a million years!"
    — C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

  2. You make some interesting points.

    As you say, this erosion of Catholic values and teaching 'by millimetres' is a difficult thing to fight. It would be so much easier to make a stand if it were something drastic like banning faith schools altogether.

    I do like your reference to the obese and overworked lions during the time of the Diocletian persecution - conjures up a marvellous cartoon image :o)