One day while in a crowd the St. Cyprian was arrested and questioned by a Roman Magistrate. The dialogue goes as follows: (Cyprian in Red)
“Are you Thascius Cyprianus?”
“Our most venerable emperors have commanded you to sacrifice.”
“I will not do it.”
“In so just a cause there is no need for deliberation.”
“It is decided that Thascius Cyprianus should die by the sword.”
“Thanks be to God.”
Cyprian has no need for verbose sermons, responses or pleadings he is about to preach Christ crucified in one of the most profound ways a Christian can. When he is told he will die for his relationship with Christ he responds nobly and simply, “Thanks be to God.” God was calling him to faithfulness and Cyprian was ready. At that moment he had to do only one thing. Follow God’s call.
St. Cyprian was a Bishop who lived within the Roman Empire. He lived at a time when terrified Christians turned away from Jesus and ran to the temples to sacrifice. He did his job as a Bishop and led his people to follow Jesus even unto death.
In that simple brief answer I hear more than, “Thanks be to God.” I hear Cyprian’s readiness to follow God’s will no matter where He leads. Indeed in thinking about that final answer I hear behind his words the mental and spiritual disposition, “I am ready.” This leads me to ask the question, am I ready? Am I ready to accept Martyrdom if it be God’s will?
Am I Ready? Are you Ready? How do we prepare?
I don’t really know how exactly to prepare for martyrdom but I think we can learn a lot form those who have gone before us. Here are just a few points I think we can agree on:
Willingness to fight sin: If we turn away from God in sin for comfort or pleasure or passion then why would we think we would be able to stay faithful to Him when our life is at stake?
Willingness to suffer for His Holy Name: When someone is martyred I am sure that it usually isn’t the first time they have suffered for being a follower of Christ. Each and every day those who follow Christ suffer or are persecuted for just that reason. We have to be a faithful witness in small matters if we are going to be a faithful witness in great matters.
Listening for and waiting on the will and voice of the Lord: When Peter was fleeing Rome he saw Jesus walking back towards the city. Jesus expressed His holy will to be with His people and Peter turned back to the city and ultimately to his martyrdom. We need to train ourselves to hear God’s voice so that when the time comes we are able to discern the will of the Lord.
Holy Courage: Pretty self explanatory. God’s followers need courage. Pray for holy Courage every day.
Devotion to Mary: Mary was at the Cross. She can teach us to follow Christ no matter where He leads.
Passionate relationship with Jesus: In the end it is clear that the martyrs died for the passionate love of a person. They were, above all, head over heels in love with Jesus.
“No On is a martyr for a conclusion; no one is a martyr for an opinion; it is faith that makes martyrs.” Cardinal Newman
“Eighty six years I have served Him, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?” St. Poly Carp
Dave VanVickle is a Catholic speaker and writer focusing on the Universal Call to Holiness and Authentic Catholic Spirituality. He is currently employed as the Director of Evangelization for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Wexford, PA.