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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


It's HOLY WEEK!  The final sprint of Lent.  Perhaps "sprint" is not term we want to use. I had a reader long ago who described Lent as "rubbing along".  So, somewhere between sprinting and rubbing along is where we stand. It's a busy week of Mass and Passion, so we're going to spring clean our question list.

Martyrs. Are they automatically saints or do they also need to  perform miracles? I'm particularly interested in Thomas Byles who, instead of taking a life boat off of the Titanic, stayed behind to administer sacraments to those about to die. Does that make him a martyr?

Technically, no. Father Thomas was on his way to New York to officiate at the wedding of his younger brother when the great ship went down to the bottom of the sea.  He did indeed refuse a seat on a lifeboat twice to stay behind and hear confessions and grant absolution. 

Martyrs are automatically saints, no miracles required. But bravery is not martyrdom. A martyr is someone who dies defending the faith. To be a martyr, someone would have had to say to Father Thomas, "If you deny that Jesus is God, or your Savior, then you can get on a lifeboat."  Father Thomas simply chose to stay and do his job.

That's not to say it wasn't wholly heroic. But it would be hard to prove sainthood without miracles.

To start with, clergy is held to a higher sin standard, because they are responsible for the souls of others.  It's why the new Pope is constantly asking for your prayers, because when he fails even in small ways, the repercussions are massive.

Then the Church would study the life of Father Thomas to see if he lived a life of heroic virtue. He certainly did at the end there.  Then we need two miracles.

You could take up the cause for his sainthood!

There are other people whose martyrdom is in question. The one who springs to mind is St. Edith Stein. She is often called a martyr, but technically speaking, I don't think she actually qualifies. She was a Jewish girl who converted and became a nun. In question is whether or not she was arrested and sent to the gas chamber for being a nun or for being Jewish.  If it was because she was a nun, then she did die for her faith. The thing is, she was arrested for being a Jew (she and her sister had been forced to wear the yellow star, prior to their arrest).

Not to worry, though, she has at least one miracle under her belt, a little girl who was dying from an overdose of Tylenol and survived after her family and friends prayed for the intercession of Edith. Because she is more or less seen as a martyr, she was canonized. But there have been people who have questioned the martyr issue.

I'm with you!  Surely, Father Thomas is in Heaven!


Anonymous said...

Hello Sister Mary Martha. I really enjoy your blog and have passed it onto both my mother and sister. I have had something bothering me for some time and wondering your prospective on it... If you have the time.

I have long had issues with my in laws. They have never accepted me, since I met and married their son 15 years ago. I have done my best to "take the high road" and continue to let them back into our lives despite them hurting us too many times to count. We have tried to talk to them about all the problems, but they never apologize or accept any responsibility. Then after a few months we go back to the same dysfunction.

Some history: My father in law is emotional abusive to anyone and everyone that crosses him. He screams, yells, & carries on. My mother in law is catty and is openly disrespectful to all my parenting decisions- staying at home with my children, making my kids eat healthy foods. She makes all our happy occasions (our wedding, children's baptisms, Christmas) awkward with her passive aggressive attitude. We've recently learned from out of state family that she speaks poorly about me to everyone out of state. They finally feel comfortable in telling me because they now all agree it's her... not me that's the real problem. My husband has one sister... we are not close to her at all. She is a huge instigator and is a spy for her parents. I am leaving out many, many things... I'm sure you can imagine.

I recently had a miscarriage and they did not reach out to us at all. I am at my wit's end. I want to do the Christian thing and I worry for spending much time in Purgatory for this. I honestly feel as though I can forgive them, but I am almost to the point of PTSD with all the abuse from them. I know Jesus wants us to turn the other cheek. But how long until I can say "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me."?

My husband is ready to sever ties, he's lived with the abuse his whole life and he's done. He likes the calm when they aren't around. It's me struggling with doing the "right thing."

Please advise. God Bless you!

Katney said...

The blessings of the Risen Lord to you, Sister. You bring a lot of light to your readers, and we appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

What was Sister's answer to the first inquiry?