Monday, 4 May 2009

Martyrs of England and Wales

Happy Feast Day of the Martyrs! I remember how moving it was to go to the spot where the Tyburn gallows were, now in the middle of a traffic island off Hyde Park, marked only with a circle in the pavement that reads, 'The Site of Tyburn Tree.' To think that so many men and women gave their lives for the Catholic faith on this spot, a witness that was also the catalyst for many conversions, and now the historical brutality of our nation is marked by indifferent silence - cars drive past the spot and never even know it is there. I guess this is the lot of our mission in the world - sooner or later people will forget that we were ever here. But the martyrs strove for a wreath that does not wither. Only yesterday Pope Benedict said at an ordination Mass in St Peter's, we must learn to be in the world without being of the world. In speaking of the mission of priests he said, "...we priests know this from experience: The 'world,' in the sense that John uses the word, does not understand the Christian, does not understand the ministers of the Gospel -- in part, because in fact it does not know God and in part, because it does not want to know him." Let's pray to the martyrs that we will bring God's love to the world, without ourselves giving in to the world's secular values in the process.

1 comment:

Graeme said...

Catholics who enjoy visiting the ancient sites associated with the martyrs might be interested in joining the Society of St Justin Martyr whose apostolate is to visit places once used for or associate with Catholic worship. We make acts of reparation, pray for those who worship there now, as well as venerating the relics of saints if present. See: or email
Fr Tim Finnegan has mentioned this recently on his excellent blog and our numbers are slowly growing from amongst the laity and the clergy.

From the statutes:
'On visiting a church, monastery, shrine, even if ruined, which had previously been used for Catholic worship recite the following [viz. Pater, Ave, Gloria] for the repose of the souls of all who have worshipped there in the past, especially the priests who faithfully offered the holy sacrifice of the Mass and in reparation for all wrongs committed there. Pray also for the unity of Christ’s church around the See of Peter and for the intentions of our Holy Father'