Posts Tagged ‘Martyrs’

Religious Orders

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/10/17 at 12:00 AM

One of the beautiful elements of Catholicism is that the Church is composed not just of individuals, but also of religious orders and communities. Throughout history these religious families have helped form the rich tapestry of our one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church!

Generally speaking, each religious order and community arose out of a specific need in the Church, and each has its own charism or gift for the Church.
For example, the Dominicans have given the Church some of her greatest preachers and miracle workers, whereas the Franciscans have taught us the value of holy poverty and a life of simplicity.

The Jesuits have produced some of the Church’s greatest teachers and missionaries, while the Benedictines have taught the Church how to balance prayer and work in a life of stability.

But perhaps the greatest gift given to the Church has come from one of Her smaller orders: the Carmelites. For it is this religious order that has taught Holy Mother Church how to pray.

Tracing their spiritual heritage back to the prophet Elijah, who hid and prayed on Mt. Carmelin northern Israel, the Carmelites began as a group of hermits who lived and prayed togetheron that same holy mountain that was home to their spiritual progenitor.

Over the centuries the Carmelites have grown to include both men and women, and thisreligious family has produced some of the greatest and most beloved saints of the Church.

While we’ve all heard of Carmelite saints such as St. Teresa of Ávila, St. John of the Cross,and St. Thérèse of Lisieux, we may not be as familiar with some of the Carmelite martyrs, most notably the 16 martyrs from the Carmelite Community of Compiègne, France, who died in the French Revolution.

These 16 women were arrested during the Reign of Terror in June 1794 for refusing to allow the Revolutionary government to suppress their community. A month later they were transferred to Paris, where on July 17th, 1794, they were executed for treason by guillotine.

Knowing that they were going to die, these valiant women offered themselves as victims to God for the restoration of peace in France and in the Church.
As the community approached the guillotine, they jointly renewed their religious vows and began chanting the Veni Creator Spiritus, which is often chanted at the liturgies for the profession of vows and ordinations.

Amazingly courageous, each of these brave Carmelites continued chanting right up until the moment her head was severed from her saintly body – until at last the solitary voice of the prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine, was silenced by that heartless and cruel blade.

As we might expect, our Lord accepted the sacrifice of these valiant women, and the French Revolution’s bloody Reign of Terror ended just days after their martyrdom – saving the lives of countless others who would have met the same fate for rejecting the terrible tyranny of the revolutionaries.

These courageous Carmelites are saints not simply because they died for our Faith. They are saints because, like all the other saints from the family of Carmelites, they persevered in prayer and in the living out of our Christian faith – even when it was deathly inconvenient.

Perseverance in prayer and living out our Catholic faith dutifully are the themes of our readings today, and these actions go hand in hand.

In our first reading from Exodus we are given the image of Moses raising his tired arms in supplication on behalf of the Israelites engaged in battle with the Amalekites. As we know, as long as Moses persevered in his supplication, Israel had the better of the fight.
In our second reading St. Paul encourages St. Timothy to remain faithful to our Catholic faith and to persevere in proclaiming the Gospel, no matter how difficult that might be.

In our Gospel we have the familiar story of the persistent widow, the parable that Jesus uses to teach His disciples the necessity of praying without becoming weary.

Now all of us have certain needs or desires that we hope that God will grant, and so many of us go to God in prayer every day asking Him to give us what we want.

But what we must remember is that our prayer should not be primarily about our wants and needs. Our Father in Heaven is not Santa Claus! He is our loving Father Who knows what’s best for us in every situation.

Our Lord has a divine plan, a divine will for each of us and for all of creation, and in His humility, He allows our prayer to be the mechanism by which He enacts His will.

It’s not that our prayers change God, but they do act as a spiritual lever to bring about His will. As a loving Father, He listens to our prayers intently, and He answers them according to His will.

Ultimately our prayer should be about getting to know God and discerning His will, and it’s for this reason that we must persevere in our prayer. While the persistent widow got what she wanted because she persevered, our goal should in prayer should be to get to know what God desires for us – while trusting that He will give us exactly what we need.

But we must remember that the holier we are, the more weight our prayers will carry with our Lord. If we wish to enjoy God’s good favors, we should try to dispose ourselves for them by proving ourselves to be His friends.

Regardless, sometimes the answer to our prayers will be “No.” And when our Lord says no to us, we must remember that it is always because He wants to grant us a greater Yes!

Sometimes our Lord allows us to suffer, even when we beg Him to take it away. And when He does this, it’s always because He wants us to grow in virtue or to give us an opportunity to make reparation for sin.

While we may be tempted to question His love for us when He doesn’t ease our sufferings, persevering in prayer and in the Christian life means that we persevere in trusting God.

When we learn to persevere in our prayer, despite our sufferings, God gives us the grace toaccept whatever answer He grants to our prayers, and in this humble acceptance of His willwe are given the grace to grow in virtue.
If we persevere in our prayer, while also trying to cultivate virtue, eventually our prayerchanges so that eventually it becomes less and less something we do, and more and moresomething that God does within us. This is when we really make great strides in holiness.

My brothers and sisters, make it a point to persevere in praying every day, and as you do, tryto listen to God more than you speak to Him.

While vocal prayer is good and necessary, simply sitting with our Lord quietly and listeningto Him, or meditating on a passage of Sacred Scripture or an element of our Lord’s life iseven more necessary in helping us grow in holiness.

Often when people begin to develop a prayer life, they give up in frustration because theyfeel constantly distracted. But keep in mind that distractions in prayer are normal and will always be present. So even though you may get terribly distracted in prayer, do not give up.

Whenever you get distracted, simply pull your mind and heart back onto the task of communing with our Lord. For this is what it means to persevere in prayer!

Lastly, remember that prayer is not something we have to do alone. Call upon the saints and angels to assist you, most especially Our Lady! If we are her faithful children, she will always help us persevere in our prayer so that we might better live out our Christian faith.

All you saints of Carmel, pray for us!

20 October 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:



In 14 Book Corner on 2014/01/30 at 12:00 AM


Defenders of the faith have been raised up in every era of the Church to proclaim fidelity to the truth by their words and deeds. Some have fought heresy and overcome confusion like Athanasius against the Arians and Ignatius Loyola in response to the Protestant reformers. Others have shed their blood for the faith, like the early Christian martyrs of Rome, or Thomas More, John Fisher and Edmund Campion in Reformation England.

Still others have endured a “dry” martyrdom like St. Philip Howard, Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty and Jesuit Walter Ciszek. Intellectuals have been no less conspicuous in their zealous defense of the faith, like Bonaventure, Albert, Thomas Aquinas, or Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The stories of all these, and more, are told here in this book.

“The holiness, heroism, and perseverance of the men and woman described by Fr. O’Connor will inspire and instruct readers defending the Catholic Faith in every sort of situation. Each chapter is a well-crafted portrait filled with historical detail, theological insight, and lessons about living and spreading the Gospel in trying times. A seamless combination of history, biography, apologetics, and evangelization.”
—Carl Olson Author, Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”?

Fr. Charles Connor, a Church historian, is the host of several 13-part series on EWTN, and is the author of the best-selling Classic Catholic Converts.


In the wake of Pope John Paul II’s death, many are asking: What is the future of the Catholic Church? Given its recent scandals, students of theology might discount its influence on Western civilization and simply cast it off as a corrupt religion. That would be a big mistake; as New York Times bestselling author Thomas Woods chronicles in his book, the Church has had a pivotal role in shaping Western civilization for the last two thousand years.

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization uncovers the lost truth of the Church’s contributions to our history, including:

  • How the father of atomic theory, the father of aviation, and the father of Egyptology were all Catholic priests
  • How Catholic priests developed the idea of free-market economics five hundred years before Adam Smith
  • How the Catholic Church was the great defender of the sanctity of human life and the individual against the state
  • How the Church invented charitable work—and the charitable spirit—as we know it in the Western world
  • How the Church bestowed the most unique gift to the World—what we now know as the university

In this magnificent volume, students and faithful alike will come to comprehend the Catholic Church’s monumental impact on society and western civilization as a whole.

“Prof. Woods has put the Catholic Church squarely back where it should be: at the center of the development of the values, ideas, science, laws, and institutions which constitute what we call Western civilization.”

—Dr. Paul Legutko


Stanford University



Ray, a former Evangelical Protestant and Bible teacher, goes through the Scriptures and the first five centuries of the Church to demonstrate that the early Christians had a clear understanding of the primacy of Peter in the see of Rome. He tackles the tough issues in an attempt to expose how the opposition is misunderstanding the Scriptures and history. He uses many Protestant scholars and historians to support the Catholic position. This book contains the most complete compilation of Scriptural and Patristic quotations on the primacy of Peter and the Papal office of any book available. It has over 500 footnotes with supporting evidence from Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, and non-Christian authorities.

“This book defends Catholic teaching against the opposition, using current Church teaching on the Old Testament foundation for the primacy and succession of Peter. A rich documentation, a fine study.”
-Cardinal Christoph Schönborn

“A veritable tour de force on behalf of the Petrine ministry, bringing together exegetes, the Fathers of the Church, the witness of history, and even Protestant scholars. The work is scholarly, objective, and accessible to all readers. Recommended wholeheartedly and unequivocally.”
– Fr. Peter Stravinskas

Stephen K. Ray was raised in a devout and loving Baptist family. His father was a deacon and Bible teacher, and Stephen was very involved in the Baptist Church as a teacher of Biblical studies. After an in-depth study of the writings of the Church Fathers, both Steve and his wife Janet converted to the Catholic Church. He is the host of the popular, award-winning film series on salvation history, The Footprints of God. Steve is also the author of the best-selling books Crossing the Tiber, and St. John’s Gospel.

 All these books are available from Ignatius Press

Holy Innocents

In 07 Observations on 2013/12/27 at 12:00 AM

“When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. There was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more”(Mt. 2, 16-18).

The entrance antiphon of the Mass reads: “These innocent children were slain for Christ. They follow the spotless Lamb, and proclaim for ever: Glory to you, Lord.”Theme: tiny children live out heroic, silent sacrifice (unwittingly) and win the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, there is heroic virtue in small objective things because it takes place on the level of the subject making the gift of self.Then-Cardinal Ratzinger remarked about notorious, heroic virtue on the occasion of the canonization of St. Josemaria Escriva:“Knowing a little about the history of saints, and understanding that in the causes of canonization there is inquiry into `heroic’ virtue, we almost inevitably have a mistaken concept of holiness: `It is not for me,’ we are led to think `because I do not feel capable of attaining heroic virtue. It is too high a goal.’ Holiness then becomes a thing reserved for some `greats’ whose images we see on the altars, and who are completely different from us ordinary sinners. But this is a mistaken notion of holiness, a wrong perception which has been corrected – and this seems to me the central point – precisely by Josemaria Escriva.“Heroic virtue does not mean that the saint performs a type of `gymnastics’ of holiness, something that normal people do not dare to do. It means rather that in the life of a person God’s presence is revealed. – something man could not do by himself and through himself. Perhaps in the final analysis we are rather dealing with a question of terminology, because the adjective `heroic’ has been badly interpreted. Heroic virtue properly speaking does not mean that one has done great things by oneself, but rather that in one’s life there appear realities which the person has not done himself, because he has been transparent and ready for the work of God. Or, in other words, to be a saint is nothing other than to speak with God as a friend speaks with a friend. This is holiness” (Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, “Letting God Work,” L’Osservatore Romano, October 6, 2002)

Commentary: Let’s complement the underlined above, suggesting that heroic virtue, in the spirit of St. Josemaria Escriva, does nothave to do with having “done great things by oneself,” but in not having done great things at all. Rather, it is a case of “non loquendo sed moriendo” – not making boast of but dying in the small things of daily, quotidian life. St. Josermaria would affirm:It is heroic to fulfill the acts of piety each day, punctually. It is heroic to pour ourselves out, working for others, never thinking about ourselves. It is heroic to finish our work well, when we are tired and exhausted. It is heroic to continue our ascetical struggle in the points indicated to us, with humility and determination. “You ask me, `Why the wooden Cross?’ And I quote from a letter: `As I raise my eyes from the microscope, my sight comes to rest on the Cross – black and empty. That Cross without a Corpus is a symbol; it has a meaning others won’t see. And I, tired out and on the point of abandoning my work, once again bring my eyes close to the lens and continue. For that lonely Cross is calling for a pair of shoulders to bear it.” (1)The heroism asked of us is an everyday heroism of silent and hidden sacrifice. We can never feel vainglory for things so small. The sacrifice of deeds in very small things is the act of self-mastery whereby with God’s love as “grace,” we hone ourselves by service to others into the figure of “another Christ.” We wash feet and by so doing affirm persons. With this, God makes our lives fruitful. We irradiate fatherhood by engendering life (“life” as Zoethat is Trinitarian Life [Gift]). Since we act out of love, our sacrifice is a willing one that seeks no applause; we don’t even call it a `sacrifice.’ We receive each day’s annoyances without complaint, as coming from God’s will, with respect and love, with joy and peace. And we strive to fulfill the duty of each moment willingly, although it is hard, since it is God’s will for us.

St. Josemaria wrote to his children: “My children, are you and I determined to live a life that serves as a model and lesson for others? Are we determined to be other Christs, to behave like children of God? It’s not enough to say it; we have to prove our determination by our deeds… Are you happy with how you have behaved up until now? You, who are another Christ, who are a child of God, do you deserve to have it said of you that you have come to do and to teach, facere et docere (Acts 1, 1): to teach others by your behavior to do all that is good, that is noble, that furthers the Redemption?”

(1) Josemaria Escriva, “The Way,” Scepter Press #277.

Otranto Revisited: Who is winning the battle and what are the implications?

In 13 History on 2013/08/30 at 12:00 AM

The Ottoman Turks, captured Constantinople, seat of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern portion of the original Roman Empire) in 1453, thus completing the total fall of the Roman Empire. Constantinople, which the renamed THE CITY  (Istanbul) became the capital of their empire.   With the aim of making the Mediterranean their lake and the Europeans Moslems, they launched continuous attacks on key Christian maritime cities.

Otranto was just a part of a well plan.  The Ottoman fleet of 128 galleys arrived at the Neapolitan Otranto on July 28, 1480.  As in medieval times, the citadel for refuge was the castle and to this haven they fled but the Castle of Otranto fell on August 11 to the invaders.

Archbishop Stefano Agricoli and many others were killed right in the cathedral; Bishop Stephen Pendinelli and Count/Commander Francesco Zurlo were sawn in two while alive.

The motto of Islam was “convert or die”.  The lands bordering the Mediterranean which had once been Christianized and led by Early Church like Augustine were falling like dominos to the Moslems.  In Otranto, 800 men ran for the hills but were eventually caught and beheaded by the Moslems for absolutely refusing to convert.  On Sunday, May 12, 2013 Pope Francis canonized the 800 men.

By the middle of the sixteenth century, the Mediterranean had become a Moslem lake, that is until Charles V of Spain’s son, Don Juan of Austria led the European fleet that defeated the Moslems on October 7, 1571.  While the Christians galleys were vastly outnumbered by the triple galley fleet of the Moslems, the Christians won a resounding victory attributed to the prayers of Christendom and those of the Christian captives who were enslaved as rowers of the Moslem galleys.

With the Battle of Lepanto began the decline of the Ottoman Empire which was divided up by the Allies after World War I and granted nationhood after World War II.  The Moslem approach has changed: invasion of Christian lands by immigration.  Just look at Europe and the USA and ask yourself: Who is winning that battle and what are the implications?

Fr. Charles O’Connor- Defenders of the Faith in Word and Deed

In 15 Audio on 2011/10/27 at 1:11 AM

Defenders of Faith in Word and Deed

Host – Fr. Charles Connor

This series seeks to examine Catholics who have defended the faith in word and deed by their wet martyrdom, (the shedding of blood) and dry martyrdom, (exclusion or banishment, persecution, imprisonment.) It is hoped that Catholics who view these programs will be strengthened in the Faith they profess by looking more closely at the lives of these who have sacrificed all in it’s defense.

Please click on this link to access these programs: : http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=6145&T1=Connor

Defenders of Faith in Word and Deed

1. The Early Christian Martyrs of Rome: Fr. Charles Connor teaches about how the early Christian Church was persecuted on and off for over 300 years by the Emperors of Rome. Christians were considered enemies of the state and were persecuted and martyred until the conversion of the Emperor Constantine in the year 313 AD.

2.The 4th Century – Augustine & Athanasius: These two great Doctors of the Church defended the faith against the heresy of Arianism which promoted the idea that Jesus Christ was not a divine person of the Trinity but merely a human created by God.

3. The 13th Century = Albert and Aquinas:  these two great Doctors of the Church of the 13th Century were instrumental in explaining the Theology of the Catholic Church.

4.The Counter Reformation = Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits: St. Ignatius of Loyola along with six others began the Jesuit order which was blessed by Pope Paul III on September 27, 1540. The Society of Jesus was like no other order in Church history. They first sought to defend the Roman Catholic faith from the ever spreading heresy of the Protestant reformation. They were expertly educated men of great character and strength and sought to secure the faith by preaching first to those in political power.

5. St. Charles Borromeo and the Reform of the Clergy: The counter-reformation also tackled the problems that led to the Protestant reformation which included a laxity among the Catholic clergy. In many religious communities there was ignorance, immorality, laxity, spiritual decay, superstition and abuse in religious practice. St. Charles Borromeo was instrumental in the reformation of the clergy. He opened several seminaries, organized the laity into spiritual guilds and wrote the Catechism of Trent.

6. St. Thomas More:  One of several Catholic martyrs who refused to accept King Henry VIII as the supreme head of the Church in England, with authority superseding that of the Roman Pontiff. Consequently, St. Thomas was stripped of his Office as Chancellor of England and imprisoned in the tower of London. Refusing to sign the oath of succession, he was executed in 1545.

7. St. John Fisher: Another Martyr of the English Protestant reformation instigated by King Henry VIII. St. John was the last Catholic Bishop of Rochester. When imprisoned by Henry, the Pope elevated him to Cardinal. King Henry resented this and is quoted as saying: “Well let the Pope send him a red hat when he will – But I will so provide that when so ever it comes, he shall wear it on his shoulders, for head he shall have none.”

8. St. Edmund Campion: Unique Martyr of the English Protestant reformation, St. Edmund Campion was executed during the reign of Elizabeth I. Once a favorite of the Queen and Court, Campion returned to the Catholic faith, left England and joined the Society of Jesus. He then returned to England at the risk of being tried and executed as a traitor to the Crown. On his return he ministered to the many recusant Catholics who were ostensibly Protestant, but practiced their true Catholic faith in secret. He was found out, imprisoned, tortured and executed.

9.St. Philip Howard: A member of the nobility of England and became the Earl of Arundel in 1580. St. Philip wrote a letter to Cardinal Allen, asking what he could do to help the Catholic Church in England. The letter was intercepted and Howard eventually was arrested for treason. Although St. Philip was not executed, he suffered a dry martyrdom of imprisonment and died in his bed in prison in 1593.

10.Forty Marytrs of England and Wales:  Canonized in 1970 along with Campion, Howard and Southwell. Some of the most notable of these great Defenders of Faith were three Carthusian priests, Houghton, Lawrence & Webster who refused to take the oath against the Pope and renounce the Catholic Church. Other martyrs include St. Cuthbert Maine, John Southwell, Edmund Arrowsmith, Margaret Clitherow. Many were imprisoned and executed for attending and offering Holy Mass.

11. Modern British Defender: Hilaire Belloc: Writer of  many books about the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith. As historian, cultural commentator and critic, Belloc opposed the ideology of the “Servile Liberal Welfare State.” He along with Chesterton believed in a theory called “distributism.” He criticized greed that ignored the needs of others but favored a free economy in which people would be able to receive their justly due dignity, freedom and power.

12. Catholic Evidence Guild and Truth Society: Begun in 1884 by Bishop Vaughn, a group of laity who met weekly at various members’ homes. Both of these groups were composed primarily of laity who wrote and published informational and evangelical pamphlets about the Catholic faith which were then distributed to parish churches as well as to anyone who wished to know more about the faith. These lay persons were rigorously trained in the faith before they would be allowed to go out into their daily lives and distribute these pamphlets, preach on the streets and give talks and lectures which defended the Catholic Faith.

13. Maryknoll Martyrs: Ford and Walsh:  In 1912 James E. Walsh joined the Catholic Foreign Missionaries of America, also known as the Maryknolls. Walsh, along with Fr. Francis Ford were missionaries to China. When the communists took over, these Maryknoll Bishops refused to leave. They were both imprisoned as spies and tortured. They are known as the Martyr Bishops of Maryknoll.

14. Cardinal Mindzenty – Dry Martyr of Hungary…The Nazis had control of Hungary and Jews living in Budapest were ordered to the Ghettos. Mindzenty and other Hungarian Bishops wrote a letter denouncing this action and called for their human rights endowed by God. Mindzenty was arrested for writing this letter and charged with offering resistance to the authorities. After the war the communists took over Hungary and in 1949, Mindzenty was charged with espionage and imprisoned for eight years in solitary confinement. When released, he took refuge in the American Embassy in Budapest in order to escape deportation to Russia. He was there for 15 years.

15. Fr. Walter Ciszek: Author of “With God in Russia” and “He Leadeth Me”.  Born in America of Polish descent, he became a missionary priest to the people of Russia. He had to have a fake Polish passport, fake name and disguise his identity as a priest. Once behind the Iron Curtain, he was eventually arrested and sent to the Lubianka prison. He spent a total of 23 years in various prison and labor camps in the Soviet Union, yet all the while he continued his work as a holy priest of God by ministering to any and everyone he possibly could. He remained not only faithful, but joyfully so, in serving his God throughout tremendous pain, hunger and suffering.

16. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger:As a young seminarian Ratzinger wanted to be a priest but as a brilliant student he also wanted to continue his scholarly studies in theology. He was blessed by winning a writing contest, which allowed him to do both. He was eventually made Archbishop of Munich and in 1978 met John Paul II. He was made prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He has written extensively on the problems facing the church in the modern world – a culture that has become selfishly individualistic, rationalistic and hedonistic. He has addressed the difficulties with cross-cultural assimilation. He tells us that reform in the Church will not come from forums and synods but from “the convincing personalities whom we call saints.”

Click here to access these programshttp://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=6145&T1=Connor