Choose a topic from Part 2B:

124. Martyrdom

1. The Greek word martyr means a witness. A martyr,then, in the meaning of a person who dies for the faith, is one whobears witness to the truth, and will not withdraw his testimonyeven though it costhim his life. Martyrdom is an act ofvirtue standing firm for truth and justice against allpersecution.

2. The virtue of which martyrdom is an act is the virtueof fortitude. Some have said that martyrdom for the faith is an actof faith; some have called martyrdom an act of love for truth; somehave considered martyrdom an act of the virtue of patience. But thereal essence of martyrdom is its enduring with faith,love, and patience, the terrors and pains of deadly persecution.Therefore, primarily, martyrdom is an act of fortitude.

3. Indeed, charity or love for the cause for which amartyr suffers, is so prominent a feature of martyrdom that itmakes it an act of the greatest perfection. Fortitude is not, initself, the most excellent of virtues, and yet this act offortitude is a most excellent act. This is so because martyrdom issuffused with charity which, as scripture says (Col. 3:14), is"the bond of perfection."

4. Martyrdom, in completeness and perfection, consists insuffering death for the sake of a cause. Christian martyrdom isdying for the sake of Christ. For, until death has ended all hisacts, a man has not given full and complete demonstration of hisunshakable endurance and his unchanging will.

5. All the virtuous acts of a Christian are professions ofhis faith. Therefore, all the virtues from which the virtuous actscome may be assigned, each in turn, as the causes of martyrdom. Fora person can, under persecution, be called upon to suffer death asthe alternative for clinging steadfastly to any one of theChristian virtues. Yet, in every case, it is the faith which thevirtue represents that is the chief target of attack. Hence, we maysay that the faith, or the truth of the faith, is the cause of theact of martyrdom in the martyr.

"The name of Jesus, pronounced with reverence and affection, has a kind of power to soften the heart. "
St Philip Neri

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"Lord, here burn, here cut, and dry up in me all that hinders me from going to You, that You may spare me in eternity."
St Louis Bertrand

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"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. "
Thomas á Kempis

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