Tuesday, October 9, 2012

St. Denis

St. Denis went as a missionary to France and became the first bishop of Paris. Tradition has it that he was martyred with two members of his clergy. In the second reading that appears in today’s “Office of Readings” for the feast, St. Ambrose writes about different kinds of martyrdom. Not everyone may be called to die for the faith, but everyone is called to evangelize—to witness to their faith. At times this faithfulness will entail pain and suffering as we battle temptations and evil in the world. We know that our sufferings, when united to the cross of Jesus Christ and joined to his Body, will play a role in the salvation of the world. Here is a section from St. Ambrose’s commentary on Psalm 118.

As there are many kinds of persecution, so there are many kinds of martyrdom. Every day you are a witness to Christ. You were tempted by the spirit of fornication, but feared the coming judgment of Christ and did not want your purity of mind and body to be defiled: you are a martyr for Christ. You were tempted by the spirit of avarice to seize the property of a child and violate the rights of a defenseless widow, but remembered God’s law and saw your duty to give help, not act unjustly: you are a witness to Christ. … You were tempted by the spirit of pride but saw the poor and the needy and looked with loving compassion on the, and loved humility rather than arrogance: you are a witness to Christ. What is more, your witness was not in word only but also in deed. …

How many hidden martyrs there are, bearing witness to Christ each day and acknowledging Jesus as Lord! … In another place we read: Do not let sin be king in your mortal body. You see the kings before whom you are made to stand, those who sit in judgment over sinners, where sin is in control. There are as many kings as there are sins and vices; it is before these kings that we are led and before these we stand. These kings have their thrones in many hearts. But if anyone acknowledges Christ, he immediately makes a prisoner of this kind of king and casts him down from the throne of his own heart. How shall the devil maintain his throne in one who builds a throne for Christ in his heart?

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