Studying the Lives of the Saints will help us imitate their virtues. Some may ask, why study the lives of the Martyrs? Their lives are extraordinary in that they suffered the cruelest of torments for the love of Jesus Christ, which we will not be called upon to suffer. There are many reasons to study the lives of the Saints. Saint Alphonsus tells us: “It maybe useful here to remark, with St. Augustine, that it is not the torture, but the cause, which makes the martyr. Whence St. Thomas teaches that martyrdom is to suffer death in the exercise of an act of virtue. From which we may infer, that not only he who by the hands of the executioner lays down his life for the faith, but whoever dies to comply with the divine will, and to please God, is a martyr, since in sacrificing himself to the divine love he performs and act of the most exalted virtue. We all have to pay the great debt of nature; let us therefore endeavor, in holy prayer, to obtain resignation to the divine will—to receive death and every tribulation in conformity with the dispensations of His Providence. As often as we shall perform this act of resignation with sufficient fervor, we may hope to be made partakers of the merits of the martyrs. St. Mary Magdalene, in reciting the doxology, always bowed her head in the same spirit she would have done in receiving the stroke of the executioner.” And there is a further reason to study the lives of the Martyrs. Martyrdom is not something that is offered to the mediocre, but to the fervent Christian. Some martyrs lived a century of holiness prior to consummating their martyrdom. Martyrdom is a straight ticket to heaven, but it is a ticket that is often earned by a pious life. True there are those very few, who convert and then are immediately martyred. But many more lived a fervent Christian life, which was crowned with the grace of martyrdom. Althoguh we may not give our lives in the manner they did at the end, we can give our lives in the manner they gave their lives before called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice.
St Alphonsus de Ligouri, Brother Hermenegild TOSF, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1482650681, ISBN 13: 9781482650686