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Pope, at weekly audience, speaks on martyrdom

Catholic World News - August 11, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the witness of Christian martyrs at his weekly public audience on August 11.

Noting that this week’s liturgical calendar includes the feasts of several martyrs (Sts. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, St. Laurence, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Pontian, St. Hippolytus), the Pope said that their examples “call everyone to a high standard of Christian life, which has the power to transform others and the world.”

Martyrdom, the Pope continued, is “a form of total love of God.” The martyr, the Holy Father explained, imitates Christ, who offered his life in the ultimate sacrifice for others. He cited the words of Jesus in St. Matthew’s Gospel, telling his disciples, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” The strength of the martyrs comes from “a deep and intimate union with Christ,” the Pope said. He explained that “martyrdom and the vocation to martyrdom are not the result of human effort, but the response to God’s initiative and call.”

At the same time, the Pope said, the martyr’s sacrifice is a free act, made by “a free person who in one final act gifts his entire life to God, and in a supreme act of faith, hope and charity, abandons himself in the hands of his Creator and Redeemer.”

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