Posted by: akostecka | October 14, 2008

Who Wants to be a Martyr?

The path to holiness is so hard to choose.  A group of friends mused together that it would be easier to be a dramatic martyr who, when asked to renounce God at knife-point, would look the accuser in the eye and say with confidence, “no! Never!  God is God and I live and die for God, take my life!”  Most of us, though in choosing a holy path are not faced with such dramatic situations, but there is a sort of martyrdom that we face; the daily struggle with sin in our lives.  Sins that come from the world (ie. materialism and greed) and from the flesh (ie. pleasure and comfort).  All sins are selfish at the heart of them and it is the dying to self that is martyrdom for most of us as we struggle with our own particular crosses. 

My husband and I were praying the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary together this morning when God’s grace helped me realize something.  The fourth sorrowful mystery is “the carrying of the cross;” while meditating on that, I saw my cross as the sins that I regularly struggle with, the ones which I regularly have to die to in the sense of a martyr.  A martyr is faced with life and death, and so are we when we choose God or we choose our selfishness.  We face a hundred little martyrdoms every day.  A hundred little deaths every day.  A hundred opportunities to tell the accuser, “I live for God alone!” and die to self. 

With so any little occasions every day to selfishly give in or to die to self and live for God, how can we stay strong and have the grace to choose the right thing?  Praying the rosary and meditating on the mystery of the carrying of the cross gave me the answer I needed to become a little saint!  God’s grace!  Who can we imitate?  Who is FULL of grace?  Mary.  “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you…”  O that we can empty ourselves of all that is selfish and sinful and let God’s grace fill us! 

With so any little occasions every day to selfishly give in or to die to self and live for God, how can we have the strength to die to our selfishness?  By God’s grace and by the holy prayers of Mary at the very time we need it the most–the hour of our dying to self.  We need prayers for grace to overcome sin and self every time we are at knife-point when we can choose selfishness or God.  “…pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death” to self!  It’s no wonder that we say this line 53 times in the course of a rosary because we plead God for the grace to be able to persevere now and at the hour of our death to self.  There are probably many more occasions to die to self, but it is that moment, at knife-point that we need Our Lady’s prayers that we be filled with the grace of God to be a martyr.



  1. AMEN!!!

    No more can be added to this beautiful reflection on the struggle of carrying our daily crosses when those selfish shadows darken our vision to choose right from wrong, (life or death). Our blindness to our own “little sins”, needs God’s illuminating spotlight on them and His grace to overcome them so that like Mary we can say yes to God with unshakable faith.

  2. This is a wonderful short reflection on martyrdom. The word comes from the Greek ‘martyria’, meaning ‘witness’. I wrote three articles at the beginning of this month on the Canadian Martyrs, or North American Martyrs to those in the U.S. I’m currently working on a post on the Transfiguration, part of my study/commentary on the Gospel of Luke.

    I’m very happy that you have Ste. Thérèse pictured on your profile page. She is the patron of my vocations. ‘Little Thérèse’ has helped me get this far- I’m a novice of the Congregation of St. Basil (Basilian Fathers), 6 years away from ordination to the priesthood- and strengthens me by her prayers every day. She is, as she wanted to be, a martyr to love. Yet she considered herself as a mere grain of sand before a mountain, as your blog title implies.

    I have added you to my blogroll and will be back here again. Thank you very much and may God send you His many blessings as I send Him my prayers for you.


    ‘I will spend my Heaven doing good on earth…This is not impossible, for even in the midst of the Beatific Vision the angels keep watch over us.” (Last Conversations, CJ 17.7)

    Ste. Thérèse of Lisieux, and Bl. Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for us.

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