Some of the most beautiful pages of the History of the Church are doubtlessly those written with the blood of the Martyrs who, giving their lives for love of Jesus Christ, received from the hands of their executioners both the death of their mortal bodies and the everlasting glory of immolating themselves for the One who had rescued them on the Cross. Defenseless children, heroic virgins, robust men, venerable ancients, throughout the ages and in all places, have heard the summons to give a resplendent and moving testimony to the power of the Gospel.
The Catholic faith we received on the day of our Baptism is centered on the person of Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of the Father, Lord of all creation, and Redeemer of humanity.
“Oh Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!” These were the last words pronounced by Madame Roland, one of the vital participants of the French Revolution, before she lay her head on the block to be guillotined.
By instituting ordained ministers in his Church, Our Lord Jesus Christ inaugurated “the most elevated dignity among all of the hierarchies of the earth”, a new category of men called to actuate in persona Christi, in order to dispense the treasures of the redemption to sinful humanity, as authentic mediators between heaven and earth. These men chosen by Christ himself are participants of the authority with which He forms, sanctifies and rules his Mystical Body, and their dignity is even greater than the angels.
Why does suffering exist? What have I done to deserve suffering? These are some of the questions that people ask themselves ever since the world began. But one can never find the right answer entirely without placing Christ in the center, because only Jesus taught this truth with the example of his own life.
‘The sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice’ (Jn 10:4). The suggestive imagery of the shepherd with his flock is almost a synonym of the Episcopal ministry in the Church.
“O Lord God Almighty, the Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of You, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before you, I give You thanks that You have counted me, worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of Your martyrs, in the cup of your Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption [imparted] by the Holy Ghost. Among whom may I be accepted this day before You as a fat and acceptable sacrifice, according as You, the ever-truthful God, have foreordained, have revealed beforehand to me, and now have fulfilled. Wherefore also I praise You for all things, I bless You, I glorify You, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, with whom, to You, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen.
Perusing the pages of human history, and comparing ages long past, peoples distant from one another, and the most different cultures, we notice one common denominator: the presence of egoism, power struggles, greed and all the other vices related to pride. It is not surprising, since our first parents, Adam and Eve, fell into the trap of the evil one, thinking that by their disobedience they would become ‘like gods’ (cf Gen 3:5).
When taking a look at Ecclesiastical writings of diverse eras, our attention is called by the frequent affirmations of Pontiffs, Bishops and holy men lamenting the adversities that the Church was passing through in their days.