Monday, June 30, 2008

Holy Martyrs

Being on vacation has given me time for some of my favorite things: Daily Mass and Liturgy of the Hours.

Many nights I go to bed with the intention of making 6:30 AM Mass before work. With the price of gas I am back to carpooling which makes that difficult. It also doesn't help that I am terrible at getting out of bed in the morning!

This morning I woke up before the alarm - yea, I set the alarm on vacation - and was able to get to Church about 30 minutes before Mass. This gave me ample time to pray Morning Prayer and prepare for Mass. Both (Mass and today's Office) were celebrating the feast of the "First Martyrs of the Church of Rome". You may recall that yesterday was the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul who were also martyrs. Today we celebrate all those martyrs that died as a result of Nero's persecution of the Christians in 64 AD.

I had a couple of thoughts as Mass went on and as I prayed the the Office throughout the day. The first is that from age 3 to 22 I lived in a parish named Holy Martyrs. I even went to the parish grade school. And today I am pretty certain that the parish was named for the martyrs whose feast we celebrated today but I can't ever recall anyone telling us that when I was there. The feast day didn't fall during the school year so that "teaching" opportunity wasn't available. In Father's homily this morning he stated that today's feast was instituted in the universal church in 1969 but was always celebrated in Rome. Certainly I should have heard at least once between 1969 and 1983 when I moved out of my parent's home the story behind our parish name. Maybe I did and just wasn't paying attention!

The other thought was a comparison between myself and both the martyrs whose deaths we celebrate today and the lives of St. Peter and St. Paul that we celebrated yesterday. What kept going through my mind was how selfish and self-centered I was - and can still be from time to time - before I got sober. And how in sobriety the twelve steps are used to rein in that "self" to the point where I can and must be of service to my fellow man. And what better role models than the two saints and the martyrs that the Church brought to our attention the last couple of days. Today I thank God again for for my sobriety and the AA program that brought me back to the Catholic faith. I will watch what I pray for because to be a saint you must be dead and to be a martyr you must die for the faith, usually a horrible death. Instead I ask our Lord and Savior to continue to work in and through me to help bring me closer to Him and put me in situations where I can continue to be of service to Him and my fellow man, following the example of the saints and martyrs.

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