Hey folks! We’re finally at the end of journey through Cardinal Dolan’s speech last week about the New Evangelization. The full speech is here, and don’t forget to read Part 1 & Part 2! Let’s get right into the last part of the Cardinal’s speech.
“Joy, love . . . and, last point . . . sorry to bring it up, . . . but blood.”
Blood. What we’re talking about here is, of course, martyrdom. In his speech, Cardinal Dolan referenced the connection between the color of his biretta he wears as a Cardinal (red) with his call to shed his blood for the sake of the Church and the spread of the Faith. Let us pray that he will never have to take that step, but that if he does he has the courage to accomplish God’s will.
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” Tertullian tells us in Apologeticum. The witness of the Church’s martyrs shouts out to people and evangelizes in a way that words never could. Eleven of the 12 Apostles died a martyr’s death, all choosing to die for our faith rather than live without it. My patron saint, St. Sebastian, was martyred in the early church during the Roman persecutions. Our Church’s history is riddled with examples of men and women shedding their blood for Christ and His Church.
Martyrdom, however, is not something reserved only for Cardinals and Popes. We all must be ready to shed our blood for Christ. Thankfully, many of us will never be asked to shed our blood for our Faith. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot be martyrs. Several bishops have predicted coming persecution for the American Church, where clergy and laity alike could be arrested for proclaiming the Truth. Among those bishops are Cardinal Burke and Bishop Aquila of Fargo, ND.
Taking a look at current events makes it obvious that this is where our country is headed. Sure, the current HHS mandate may yet be tossed away, or at least provide true exemptions for religious employers. But the attack on our Church will not end there. A time is coming, earlier rather than later, when we will be faced with a choice: either be true to the Church or follow the law. The HHS mandate is only the beginning of the war on the Church. We must be prepared to fight this battle!
What a wonderful thing to think about heading into Lent, right? (BTW, Ash Wednesday is tomorrow. Ready to explain those ashes? I found this piece by Mark Hart to be extremely helpful :)) That brings us to the other reason for this post – Lent. Most years, I hear a lot of people talk about giving something up, fasting from something. I am right on board with that. But not drinking coffee for 40 days really only deals with 1 of the 3 pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.
In order to best participate in Lent, we should reflect on ways we can progress in all three areas of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I’ve found it effective to couple up those pillars. For example, this Lent I will be fasting from watching TV shows. Instead of watching TV, I’ve decided to pray with Scripture more. I found a good “Read the Bible in a Year” plan here (FYI, this one also includes part of the Catechism to finish that in a year too!). See how that works? It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
So, what things do you do routinely that are unnecessary? Do you watch way too much TV like me? How about Facebook? Fast from that, and in place of it take up some prayerful activity. For the almsgiving part, maybe pick up a CRS Ricebowl from your parish tomorrow and fill it with loose change.
One more idea to cover all 3: Skip your morning Dunkin Donuts run for Lent. Fast from your coffee, then give that money to charity. Then, with the time you save by not making that extra stop in the morning, pray a Rosary daily, or head to daily Mass if you can!
Now, last week I promised an announcement of some sort. Well, here it is: every week during Lent (and maybe beyond) I’ll post a reflection on the Sunday readings. Look for them around Thursday of Friday each week (maybe you could even make that part of your Lenten observance; it would definitely be penitential to read what I have to say).
Anyway, after this marathon couple of days blogging, it’s time to take a break. Happy feasting on this Fat Tuesday; enjoy it while it lasts (another 7 hours or so). Stay strong during Lent!