Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Fortitude of the Martyrs

Today Holy Mother Church commemorates St Charles Lwanga and his companion martyrs (left). These 22 Catholic martyrs of Uganda were executed by king Mwanga between 1886-1887. It is said that when St Charles Lwanga"was sentenced to death, he seemed very peaceful, one might even say, cheerful. He was to be executed by being burnt to death. While the pyre was being prepared, he asked to be untied so that he could arrange the sticks. He then lay down upon them. When the executioner said that Charles would be burned slowly so death, Charles replied by saying that he was very glad to be dying for the True Faith. He made no cry of pain but just twisted and moaned, 'Kotanda! (O my God!)'."

What is it that gives the martyrs such strength and courage? It is the Gift of Fortitude, the last of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit which we have been considering.

Fortitude makes the soul "intrepid and valiant in every type of danger or against every kind of enemy" such as was evident among the apostles and disciples of Christ after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Fortitude also gives the soul "the quality of heroism in great things and in small things". Thus fr Jordan Aumann OP holds that "No greater fortitude is required to suffer the martyrs' death at one stroke than to endure without failing the prolonged martyrdom of the heroic practice of virtue and the fulfillment of one's daily duties to the smallest detail."

Therefore the Gift of Fortitude is given not just to the martyrs but to all of us, in order that we may persevere and live a life of Christian virtue. Fortitude enables us to stand up for our faith and what we believe in, even in difficult situations, it gives us the strength to perform acts of virtue and overcomes all lukewarmness in the service of God.

To grow in the Gift of Fortitude we ought to ask God for the strength to bear our cross patiently, enduring all trials and sufferings for the love of Christ, to undertake voluntary acts of mortification, such as fasting or the traditional Friday abstinence, and to fulfill our duties with a willing and uncomplaining heart.

If we can be faithful in such little things, the Gift of Fortitude will aid us for our lifetime to persevere in a virtuous Christian life or give us the courage needed to witness to Christ, even to the shedding of our blood in His name, as the holy martyrs did. May the Martyrs of Uganda pray for us and their countryfolk.

Novena Prayer to the Holy Spirit

"O Holy Spirit of God, take us as Your disciples. Guide us, enlighten us, sanctify us. Bind our hands that they may do no evil. Cover our eyes that they may see it no more. Sanctify our hearts that evil may not dwell within us. Be our God and our Guide. Wherever You lead us, we will go. Whatever You forbid us, we will renounce. And whatever You command us, in Your strength, we will do. Lead us, then, into the fullness of Your Truth."


Blogger Joee Blogs said...

This was a really kool entry. It kept me awake last night thinking about it, I thought of this too...

Bl Thomas Woodhouse SJ was martyred at Tyburn in 1573. As he was travelling to be executed, someone struck him rudely in the face but his only reply was:
"Would to God I might for thee suffer ten times as much that thou mightest go free for the blow thou hast given me. I forgive thee and pray God to forgive thee, even as I would be forgiven"

11:23 am  

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