In the days following our celebration of the Birth of Christ we had days when we celebrated witnesses to the faith: Stephen, a deacon and the first martyr on the 26th who graciously gave his life in service of the Lord ... John, the evangelist, on the 27th, whose life of witness did not include the shedding of his blood, but whose life of suffering and exile, and his witness in the Gospel and Scriptures continue to inspire (this commemoration was replaced by our celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family this year) ... the Holy Innocents on the 28th, slaughtered by Herod as he sought to put an end to the life of this "newborn king" ... Thomas Becket on the 29th, whom I wrote of recently ... and Pope Sylvester from the 300's who also died a martyr's death. In the musical "Les Miz", I believe there is a phrase in one of the songs speaking of those who gave their lives in the French Revolution that says that "the blood of the martyrs will water the meadows of France". We can definitely say that "the blood of these martyrs of the faith have nourished and strengthened our community of faith." How blessed we are by their example!
And in this first week of the year we are presented with three examples of faith that come to us from North America: Mother Seton on Monday, Bishop Neumann on Tuesday, and Brother Andre today. New York & Emmittsburg, the Czech Republic & Philadelphia, and the Oratory of Saint Joseph on Mount Royal in Montreal witnessed and attest to the faith of these three saints of the Church, and remind us of our call to make a difference in the lives of others by living our relationship with Christ to the fullest. How blessed we are by their example!