Sunday, 13 April 2008

English Martyrs

If you want to know more about the Martyrs of England and Wales, then please do see Richard Marsden's blog "Bashing Secularism": he has been posting helpful biographies about many of the canonised martyrs. The link is down there ---->

In an age of relativism, the martyrs remind us that there are absolute values and truths that claim our adherence; and they remind us that the only martyrdom worthy of the name is undertaken for the objetive truth, not for what I think is my truth, and it is done in perfect love. Not so long ago I heard a priest preach that we could pray to the Anglican martyrs of the Reformation as well as the Catholic ones. Firstly, I wouldn't presume to have the charism of infallibility to canonise saints and encourage people under my pastoral care to pray to them: that's why we have a canonisation process, otherwise any priest could start getting parishioners to pray to all sorts of exotic people. Secondly, I would be cautious about saying that just because they persevered in their Anglican faith to the end, that means they are martyrs. Just because someone dies for their faith it does not make them a martyr in the proper sense - otherwise we would end up saying the 9/11 terrorists were martyrs: there has to be an objective criteria - that of faith, hope and love - and faith, hope and love are by nature ecclesial and thus Catholic (see Lumen Genium 8!). I hope and pray that those who died so horribly for their Anglican faith are indeed in heaven and that we might merrily meet there, as St Thomas More prayed - but to start equating what they endured with martyrdom in the proper Catholic sense ends up relativising the martyrdom of the Catholic saints. The Forty Martyrs didn't just die for their belief - they died for the Faith of the Church and they did so with an exquisite charity that continues to touch the heart and inspire it.

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