Martyrdom is the occasion of the most powerful experience of the Spirit's help.
As Saint Peter says…If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you…1 Pt 4:14).
The stories of the martyrs in the first centuries strongly highlight the charismatic aspect of martyrdom. The Holy Spirit is present in those who suffer for Jesus, giving them strength and manifesting itself in the words of wisdom, the prophecies, and the visions that often accompany the moment of martyrdom. The Acts of the Apostles says of Saint Stephen: He, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
Recently I read an account of the assassination of Father Jacques Hammel by an elderly couple who saw it happen. The old priest's [life was taken] while he celebrated the Eucharist at Saint Stephen of Rouvray. [The elderly witness] fell to the ground, pretending to be dead. He says: "I was convinced that I was going to die, but I prayed. I contemplated my life, and I was at peace. I have never been so serene. Completely in peace. I had no remorse, only love in me. In fact, it was a moment of great happiness."
Father Jacques Philippe. "Forgiveness." from The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditation on the Beatitudes (New York, NY: Scepter Press 2010).
Reprinted with permission of Scepter Press.
Father Jacques Philippe is a spiritual director, retreat master and the founder of the Community of the Beatitudes. He is the author of The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes, Called to Life, Real Mercy: Mary, Forgiveness and Trust, Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart, Interior Freedom, Fire & Light, Time for God, Thirsting for Prayer, and In the School of the Holy Spirit. His website can be found here.Copyright © 2010 Scepter Press
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