The death of five Franciscan martyrs greatly impacted St. Anthony of Padua's life. It spurred him on and inspired him to want to give his life for Christ. When we think of martyrs we may think of the first Christians facing the lions, but many Catholics give their lives for Christ to this day. Four who come to mind are Sr. Dorothy Kazel, OSU; Sr. Maura Clarke, MM; Sr. Ita Ford, MM; and a laywoman, Jean Donovan, who on December 2, 1980 were beaten, raped and murdered by members of the National Guard of El Salvador. All four women worked with the poor and with war refugees in Central America. They had dedicated their lives to bringing the Good News of Christ to the people they lived with and loved. While contemplating the civil war and the atrocities that were taking place at the time, Sr. Maura had written:
“The endurance of the poor and their faith through this terrible pain is constantly pulling me to a deeper faith response. My fear of death is being challenged constantly as children and old people are being shot... I want to stay on now. I believe that God is present in His seeming absence.”
Sr. Maura’s faith grew in response to her fear; while we may not be called to give our life as she did, can we face our own day-to-day fears by deepening our faith? I think a clue lies in her last sentence, that “God is present”. When God is present to us, when He is a living fact in our lives and not just a pious notion, when we believe that He is with us in everything, then we can face our problems with greater strength. What can you do today to bring God’s presence into your life? Start with a small prayer, and believe…
St. Anthony, pray for us!