Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Reflection #3: Tuesday

Januarius, Bishop and Martyr
19 September 2006

I recently read an article about William F. Buckley, which in part explored a question posed by a reader and admirer: why are you a Roman Catholic? What has kept you faithful to the Catholic faith? The answer came in a book Buckley had recently written: because of all the people he has loved and who have loved him.
The example of faithful Christians is powerful in drawing people closer to Christ. Because of many people who had a deep love for the Church, the faith has been passed down throughout the centuries. For many people, because of others they have loved and who have loved them, the faith has been handed on to them.
There is of course no scientific proof or absolute historical evidence for some of what we believe as Catholic Christians. We have not seen Jesus in the flesh. We did not witness the Resurrection, and there were no camcorders at the time. The Eucharist cannot be “proven” by scientific investigation. We believe in many things we cannot see, in the physical sense of “seeing.” Being Catholic requires real faith and trust.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent to the Church at Pentecost, the Church has never failed to proclaim the truth. The Holy Spirit’s guidance, and the promise of Jesus, “Behold I am with you always, until the end of the world,” is the foundation of our assurance that what we believe and what we do as Catholics is real, and true, and worth embracing.
We look to the example of the martyrs as a sign that, in fact, our faith is worth not only living for, but is worth dying for. The martyrs show us that our Catholic faith is not a casual part of life, not something we do occasionally, not just a Sunday obligation. It is in fact a way of life that permeates everything we do.
The martyrs of the early Church were real believers. They truly were convinced that Jesus is the Son of God made man. They were sure of their faith. So sure were they, that life itself was secondary to professing faith in Jesus.
Today the Church celebrates the memory of Saint Januarius, a bishop who was martyred in Naples, Italy, in the year 305, under the persecution of Diocletian. Januarius gave his life for Christ. He would rather die than deny the most important person in his life, his beloved Jesus.
No scientific explanation has been found for a miracle attributed to Saint Januarius. Several times a year, including on his feast day, his dried blood, which is kept in a glass container, liquifies and re-coagulates. No one understands why. The miracle of his blood is a sign that God is at work, even after Januarius’ death, because of the faithfulness and love he showed toward Jesus.
As Saint Augustine said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The witness of their fidelity to the faith, even unto death, is a source of strength and a sign of hope for the whole Church. Their love, and their sacrifice, has insured that the faith lives on. The witness of Januarius’ life, and the lives of all the martyrs, shows us that our Catholic faith is of great and lasting value. It is worth believing, worth living, and worth even dying for.

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