Heroic virtue, martyrdom, and putting on Christ

Posted at Catholic Insight

324px-Titian_-_Crucifixion_-_WGA22823On  April 28, 2014, the Canadian Senate passed  Bill C-250 which adds “sexual orientation” to the list of classes that the Canadian Criminal Code protects under its hate provisions. With this provision in place, how long will it be before Canadian Christians who oppose gay “marriage” are prosecuted for their defense of traditional marriage between one man and one woman?

Pro-life candidates need not apply to the Liberal Party is the message from Federal Liberal Party leader, Justin Trudeau. With his words of intolerance, he has further silenced the political voice of pro-life Canadians.

Loyola High School in Quebec appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada seeking the right to teach the  mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course from a Catholic perspective. The province of Quebec has mandated that Catholic schools are required to teach ERC from a neutral (secular) point of view, without a Catholic moral perspective.

Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, a Dominican nun, came under attack because of a talk she gave at Charlotte Catholic High School. Her presentation was based on St. John-Paul II’s Theology of the Body but many of the students and their parents were of the opinion that it was homophobic.

Earlier this month, the United Nations attacked the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion saying that it is a form of “psychological torture” and should be repealed. The United Nations Committee Against Torture alleged that the Catholic Church has caused women to seek out dangerous abortions.

In non-Christian countries, persecution of Christians regularly results in loss of livelihood and property, forced conversions, and death. Jihad rebels terrorized the ancient Christian village of Ma’loula, Syria, forcing residents to convert to Islam. Some of those who refused were crucified; others were subjected to beheadings, rapes, infanticide and other barbaric acts.

In a world that is increasingly anti-Christian, there will be those who steadfastly refuse to buckle to the diabolical forces that continue to grow in strength. Their witness and sacrifice will require heroic virtue. In the book, The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet, author Thomas Dubay, S.M., describes virtue as “the qualities, traits, and characteristics that make a man or woman true, good, and beautiful as a person.” He explains that a “virtue is a power to be and to act, to live a gospel goodness such as love, patience, chastity, honesty, affability, magnanimity, justice,humility.” Further he explains that theological virtues( faith, hope, charity) “deal directly with God.” We say “yes” to God in faith, remain with Him in hope, and in love we give Him our will. Moral virtues “deal with our actions and reactions to the realities of this world: justice, temperance, prudence, fortitude.”

Fr. Dubay highlights the importance of determination. “A virtuous man or woman does not simply happen to be honest and chaste but is determined so to be and so to live, resolved to suffer, work, and even to die for what is right. This is the stuff of which martyrs are made. The stronger the determination, the deeper the virtue.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, according to Fr. Dubay, wrote that virtue perfects a person: ultimum potentiae. “Through each of the theological and moral virtues, we gradually become all we can be…. love becomes burning, prudence becomes wise, chastity becomes most liberating and delightful, and so with all the virtues. The highly virtuous man or woman is complete with a fullness of human beauty and excellence. This is what Saint Paul had in mind when he spoke of ‘putting on Christ’, for the incarnate Word of the Father is the supreme splendor of our face.”

Heroic virtue, St. Thomas Aquinas clarified “surpass[es] human capacity.” Heroic virtue “cannot be attained with ordinary efforts and strength but only by those who far surpass them in determination and a complete cooperation with grace.” It is a call to holiness which Scripture and the Church teach us is “universal, directed to men and women in every state in life.”

Along with virtues, especially heroic virtues, we must have an intimate relationship with the Trinity. There is “a mutual intercausality between [the two]: each brings about the other.” These interconnected qualities are what makes saints; not just canonized saints but ordinary people “head over heels in love with God” who heroically live out the Gospel and “put living flesh” on the Church.  God in His wisdom sends the world the saints it needs in any given age.

In these morally confused times, we are called to put on Christ boldly, without hesitation or fear. In a recent homily, Father Marco Testa urged us: “We must adhere with all our strength to the word of Truth that Jesus speaks and we must speak that word with all boldness because our salvation and that of the world depends on it.” We are called to live a life of holiness. W are called to be saints. Rejection and martyrdom in its various forms will surely follow but we are prepared because Jesus warned us. “If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first.” (Jn. 15:18)

We don’t have a moment to lose in the heroic fight for Truth. Fortify yourselves and your families by prayer, contemplation and good deeds. Pray the Rosary for the Rosary will save the world. Pray for an abundance of heroic virtue. Offer up your sufferings for the redemption of mankind. Put on Christ. Choose to be a saint. This is the only way we can be a light for a world that is determined to live in darkness.

Dubay, T. (1999). The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

 

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6 Responses to Heroic virtue, martyrdom, and putting on Christ

  1. SaintlySages says:

    Abortion clinics placed in low-income neighborhoods, contraceptives given to poor people, homosexuals encouraged not to propagate children: all these actions promote social eugenics, which has been tried, and failed.

  2. We have to be ready to speak the truth at any time. God bless you and thank you for an excellent post.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments you mention here.

  4. SR says:

    This was an excellent post and one that is so true. The United States is no better and is getting worse by the moment, not by the day anymore. You know on Mother’s Day the thought went through my mind. What separates women on this day more than anything. The answer I came to is, “We chose life.” When society as a whole decides not to do this, it all goes downhill from there. Then we “MUST” tolerate all else, or yes we are going to suffer the consequences for not doing so. It is funny to me though, in all of this “tolerance” we now must have and not given a choice not to, why is it those who oppose Christians beliefs, do not have to “tolerate” us? If “tolerance” is the word of the year, it should be for all, and not only those who want to “force” us to accept every religion, non-religion, abortion, homosexuality and the like. I have the right to call an “abortion” a sin, just as those who agree with it feel they have a right not to. Good one! God Bless, SR

  5. A great post for what we are facing for sure! We all need to be ready to be martyrs and to stand up and be bold. It’s something that my husband and I have been talking about a lot lately.

  6. dgcree says:

    Here is an extract fromFr. Paul T. Brooks [ a priest of the Archdiocese of Glasgow and the Parliamentary Researcher for the Catholic Parliamentary Office. ] observations at the Scottish Parliament 13th May 2014:

    ” Bleak Tuesday Gives Way to Brighter Future

    The storm clouds were gathering over the Scottish parliament last Tuesday as both humanist and secularist ideology was once more lent a disproportionate voice. The ‘time for reflection’ was given by Mr. Gary McLelland, the education officer for the Humanist Society Scotland. Earlier that day the Education and Culture Committee had considered the secularist petitions 1487 and 1498. PE1487 effectively sought to reduce the provision of religious observance in schools. PE1498 was broadly intolerant of allowing religious representatives to play an active role in local authority education committees and sought to overturn a law that has contributed to the common good. The Scottish government was already on record as disagreeing with the aims of these petitions and now in very welcome news the Committee have chosen to close the petitions. However not all threats are yet removed. The proposed member’s bill by John Finnie MSP to take up the aims of PE1498 is still in the pipeline. Another petition has been lodged by Mr. Norman Bonney the same man who in January told the Public Petitions Committee that the Catholic Church is a foreign hostile power. Now he is seeking to ensure that ‘time for reflection’ should be presented 25% of the time by atheists [such a move would be unlikely to enhance the quality of parliamentary discourse. It is harder to make reasoned arguments when you overtly reject the source of all knowledge. Whatever his reasoning it was very welcome when Prime Minister David Cameron stated that Britain is a “Christian country”. As the Archbishop of Canterbury went on to say “It is a historical fact that our main systems of ethics, the way we do law and justice, the values of society, how we decide what is fair, the protection of the poor, and most of the way we look at society… All have been shaped by and founded on Christianity. Add to that the foundation of many hospitals, the system of universal schooling, the presence of chaplains in prisons, and one could go on a long time. Then there is the literature, visual art, music and culture that have formed our understandings of beauty and worth since Anglo-Saxon days.”]

    But let us not be despondent, we were warned that we would face such trials and tribulations and that with the grace of God we would triumph over them and so we rejoice in Jesus’s assurance:

    1. “Be not afraid”
    2. “I am with you always, even to the consumation of the world.”
    3. ” … The gates of Hell will not prevail against it ” [ the Catholic Church – you and I ]

    provided we stand firm and hope in the Lord.

    PAX

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