Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

Martyrdom for the Faith in Our Times

by Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.D.


Cardinal Raymond Burke stated on May 7, 2016, that faithful Catholics must “resist” a perspective within the Church that seeks to undermine the truths of the Catholic faith regarding the indissolubility of marriage and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The general theme of the talk was Martyrdom for the Faith in Our Times and it was presented within a Rome Life Forum emphasis on concerns about Pope Francis' recent document Amoris Laetitia. He was speaking to pro-life and pro-family leaders gathered at the Roman Life Forum conference in Rome on May 7.

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Voice of the Family

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Voice of the Family, May 7, 2016

It pleases me very much to address the Rome Life Forum and to express my solidarity with you, the participants, in the commitment to safeguard and promote the inviolable dignity of innocent and defenseless human life, and the integrity of its cradle in marriage and the family. Above all, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to you. It is my hope that my time with you and my words will be a source of encouragement in the pro-life and pro-marriage battle to which we all are committed and in which we all are engaged.

Of particular concern to me is a growing mundane perspective, a man-centered and world-centered perspective, especially in the Church. It expresses itself in a secular understanding of the divine realities which are part and parcel of our daily life. For example, today in the Church, there are those who refer to the objective reality of the grace of marriage as merely an ideal to which we more or less seek to conform ourselves. The mundane vision, which, because it is not true, leads to confusion and division within the Body of Christ, ends up by denying the fundamental principle of right reason, called the principle of non-contradiction, namely the law that a thing cannot be and not be in the same respect at the same time. For example, it cannot be that the Church professes faith in the indissolubility of marriage, in accord with the law of God written upon every human heart and announced in the word of Christ, and at the same time admits to the Sacraments those who publicly live in violation of the indissolubility of marriage. If a person who is living publicly in violation of his or her marriage bond is admitted to the Sacraments, then either marriage is not indissoluble or the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is not the Body of Christ and the encounter with Christ in the Sacrament of Penance does not require the firm purpose of amendment of our lives, that is, obedience to the word of Christ, “sin no more.”[1]

The mundane view of our life in Christ entails a politicized view of the Church in which her members are divided into opposing camps, when we are all Catholics who, by definition are united by the same faith, the same Sacraments and the same governance.[2] At the same time, all manner of false opposition is introduced into ecclesial life, for example, the opposition between reason and faith, the opposition between doctrine and pastoral practice, the opposition between law and love, the opposition between justice and mercy. Because we are alive in Christ in the Church, we view all things in terms of eternal life, “under the aspect of eternity (sub specie aeternitatis),” according to the classical expression.

We are all tempted to engage in such worldly ways of thought. It is my hope today to assist you in the battle to resist such thinking, in order to remain true to Christ Who is alive in you through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I present to you a reflection on the martyrdom which is inherent to our life in Christ. Such a reflection will help us, I trust, to see all of the circumstances of our life in Christ in the view of Christ’s victory over sin and death, His victory of eternal life in our human nature which He shares with us already now and will share with us perfectly at His Final Coming.

A New Evangelization: Father John A. Hardon and Pope Saint John Paul II

In a particular way, I draw upon the work of the Servant of God Father John Anthony Hardon of the Society of Jesus, who died on December 30th of the Great Jubilee Year of 2000. Father Hardon expressed eloquently, in his speaking and in his writing, the strong conviction that Catholics today, like the early Christians, must be ready to give strong witness to their faith, in its integrity, even to the shedding of blood. I think, for instance, of the Marian Catechist Manual, the Servant of God’s last publication, for which I was honored to write the Preface. In setting forth the nature and structure of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, one of the several apostolates which the Servant of God founded or cooperated in founding, Father Hardon wrote:

Catholicism is in the throes of the worst crisis in its entire history. Unless true and loyal Catholics have the zeal and the spirit of the early Christians, unless they are willing to do what they did and to pay the price that they paid, the days of America are numbered.[3]

What he wrote about the United States of America, his homeland, is true of any nation subject to the virulent secularization of society, a secularization which has also entered into the Church. He knew that the only way to transform the society, that is, to turn the society around to Christ and His Mystical Body, holy Church, is for individual Catholics to live their faith with complete integrity, also in the face of loneliness, ridicule, persecution, and even death.

In other words, if the Church in our day is to carry out its mission of evangelization of the world, then she must first be evangelized, she must first be purified of anything that is not of Christ Whom she is called to bring to the world, at every time and in every place. In his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, Pope Saint John Paul II addressed the need of a new evangelization of society, which must have its beginning with a new evangelization of the ecclesial community.

To remedy the situation of a totally secularized culture, the saintly Pontiff observed, “a mending of the Christian fabric of society is urgently needed in all parts of the world.”[4] He hastened to add that, if the remedy is to be effected, the Church herself must be evangelized anew. Fundamental to understanding the radical secularization of our culture is to understand also how much this secularization has entered into the life of the Church Herself. Pope John Paul II declared:

But for this [the mending of the Christian fabric of society] to come about what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself present in these countries and nations.[5]

He, therefore, called upon the lay faithful to fulfill their particular responsibility, that is, “to testify how the Christian faith constitutes the only fully valid response – consciously perceived and stated by all in varying degrees – to the problems and hopes that life poses to every person and society.”[6]Making more specific the call, he clarified that the fulfillment of the responsibility of the lay faithful requires that they “know how to overcome in themselves the separation of the Gospel from life, to take up again in their daily activities in family, work and society, an integrated approach to life that is fully brought about by the inspiration and strength of the Gospel.”[7]

Catechesis: Foundation of the New Evangelization

In a particular way, Father Hardon knew that the necessary strong Catholic witness depends essentially upon the right understanding of the faith and its demands provided by sound catechesis. He saw how decades of a thin and even false catechesis had created a situation in which many Catholics were illiterate regarding the faith. He saw how many were left in confusion and error regarding the most fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith and of the moral law written upon the human heart and definitively articulated through the word of Christ handed down in the Church. Faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist had dramatically diminished, resulting also in a practically total loss of Eucharistic devotion. Sunday Mass was no longer seen as a serious obligation, under pain of mortal sin, and regular access to the Sacrament of Penance was abandoned by a great number of Catholics. A lack of formation in the virtues, and general confusion and error regarding the moral law was wreaking destruction and death in the lives of many individuals and of many families. Parents and even parish priests no longer saw catechesis as their principal responsibility toward children. As a result, many children and young people were going down a path of sin and moral corruption without anyone correcting them or showing them the way of Christ, the way of truth and love.

The only effective means to address the gravity of the situation threatening the present and future of our society, Father Hardon reminded us, is God, Who “put us here at this time and place knowing full well the gravity of our times” and His grace which “is available in superabundance.”[8]I am reminded of the profound reflection upon Christian witness in our time provided by Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in his recently published book, Dieu ou rien [9], which has been published in English translation with the title, God or Nothing.[10]

As Father Hardon observed, engaging in the apostolate of catechesis does not require a Catholic to “leave [his] profession, quit [his] job, or move to a new location,”[11] but to devote himself to the spiritual and doctrinal formation required of one called to witness to the faith in our time. He reminded the reader of how the first Christians nourished themselves through frequent reception of Holy Communion and through their meetings in the catacombs, which constituted a kind of school for them “to gain the knowledge and build the cunning and the zeal to win souls for Christ.”[12] He urged today’s Catholics to participate in Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion daily, if possible. He also urged them to make their homes and their automobiles a school “to instill knowledge and strength of will to evangelize.”[13] In other words, he taught them not to lose any occasion, even the time spent in traveling from one place to another, to deepen one’s understanding of the faith.

Witness and Martyrdom, and the New Evangelization

The witness of catechesis in the home, while travelling, at work, doing business, exercising a profession, in whatever arena of human endeavor a Catholic is involved, is a preeminent form of the witness which Catholics are called to give at all times, especially in the critical times in which we live. The constant witness, of which catechesis is a most important form, involves martyrdom, as the Servant of God frequently reminded us.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in fact, treats in two successive numbers the duty of Christians to witness to their faith and the supreme witness of martyrdom. Regarding the duty of witness to the faith, the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:

The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.[14]

Regarding martyrdom, the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:

Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude.[15]

Father Hardon developed his teaching on martyrdom to show the essential relationship of all forms of Christian witness to Christian martyrdom. A study of the Servant of God’s teaching will show how all witness involves a certain dying to self, a certain oblation of self to Christ for the sake of His saving work. In its highest expression, it involves the pouring out of one’s life blood in fidelity to Christ and His Church. Martyrdom is a most compelling manifestation of the reality of Christ’s life within us, of the unity of our hearts with His glorious pierced Heart.

I think of so many faithful who express to me their profound concerns for the Church in the present time, when there seems to be so much confusion about fundamental dogmatic and moral truths. In responding to their concerns, I urge them to deepen their understanding of the constant teaching and discipline of the Church and to make their voices heard, so that the shepherds of the flock may understand the urgent need to announce again with clarity and courage the truths of the faith and to apply again with charity and firmness the discipline needed to safeguard the same truths.

Before the challenges of living the Catholic faith in our time, Pope John Paul II recalled to our minds the urgency of Christ’s mandate given to the first disciples and given, no less, to missionaries down the Christian centuries and to us today. He declared:

Certainly the command of Jesus: “Go and preach the Gospel” always maintains its vital value and its ever-pressing obligation. Nevertheless, the present situation, not only of the world but also of many parts of the Church, absolutely demands that the word of Christ receive a more ready and generous obedience. Every disciple is personally called by name; no disciple can withhold making a response: “Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).[16]

Christians often find themselves in a society and culture which does not know God, is forgetful of Him or even hostile to Him and His law written in creation, inscribed upon every human heart, and taught in its fullness by the Church. In such a situation, the clear and courageous witness of the Christian life, giving glory to God by obedience to His law written upon the human heart, is more critical than ever, not only for the sake of the salvation of the Christian soul but also for the transformation of the culture and society, so that it may truly foster and serve the good of all.

The obedience which is fundamental and essential to the new evangelization is also a virtue acquired with great difficulty in a culture which exalts individualism and questions all authority, except the self. Yet, it is indispensable if the Gospel is to be taught and lived in our time. We must take example from the first disciples, from the first missionaries to our homeland, and from the host of saints and blesseds who gave themselves completely to Christ, calling upon the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit to purify themselves of any rebellion before God’s will and to strengthen them to do God’s will in all things.

Father Hardon took up the work of the new evangelization faithfully and tirelessly. It was his one desire to assist his brothers and sisters in the Church to teach, celebrate and live the Catholic faith with the enthusiasm and energy of the first disciples, of the great saints, and of the missionaries who first brought the Catholic faith to our homeland. He expressed the call to the new evangelization most fittingly as a call to witness and ultimately to martyrdom. So many faithful, including myself, continue to follow the inspiration and direction which the Servant of God gave to us.

Martyrdom according to the Servant of God Father Hardon

The greatest spiritual legacy which the Servant of God has left to us is his life lived in Jesus Christ for “the greater glory of God.” Even as, in his own priestly life, he sought to know, love and serve Jesus Christ alone, so also he taught others to do the same, in accord with the demands of their vocation in life. Observing the great confusion and error, also within the Church, in the present time, Father Hardon frequently reminded all of the faithful that they must prepare themselves to suffer greatly, even to undergo martyrdom, in order to be faithful to the teaching of Christ in His Church. Father Hardon remained confident in the abiding presence of Christ with the Church and with her individual members, through the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Although he saw clearly the gravity of the situation and the greatness of the demands of Christian life in our time, he was confident that, with the grace of Christ, Catholics would give the faithful witness to Christ, which transforms individual lives and indeed the world.

The Servant of God provides a systematic presentation of his teaching on martyrdom in his book,Holiness in the Church, reprinted in 2000 by Eternal Life, the apostolate he founded with the saintly layman, Mr. William Smith of Bardstown, Kentucky. First of all, Father Hardon grounds his teaching on martyrdom upon the words of Our Lord before He ascended to the right hand of the Father: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judea and Samaria, and indeed to the ends of the earth.”[17] The words of Our Lord teach us the source, the nature and the apostolic purpose of martyrdom.

“The source of the strength to suffer for Christ comes finally from the Holy Spirit, who is said to give power.”[18] As Pope John Paul II reminded us, it is the life of the Holy Spirit, dwelling within us through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, which inspires within us holiness of life, the strength to suffer for Christ. The Holy Spirit, dwelling within our souls, enables us to testify to the truth which Christ teaches us in His Holy Church. Martyrdom is an essential expression of our personal relationship with Christ. It is, in fact, the personal relationship with Christ which gives the martyr joy in his suffering. In the words of the Servant of God, “[i]n fact, one of the paradoxes of martyrdom is the positive happiness that a strongly committed follower has in suffering for Christ.”[19] Father Hardon refers to the account in the Acts of the Apostles of the flogging of the Apostles, after being warned not to speak any longer in the name of Jesus. The Sacred Writer tells us that the Apostles, “were glad to have had the honor of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name”[20] of Jesus.

Father Hardon, observing that martyrdom is no “academic theory,” but “a palpable fact of every true follower of Christ,”[21] distinguishes three forms of martyrdom, of being witnesses to Christ before the whole world. They are the Martyrdom of Blood, the Martyrdom of Persecution, and the Martyrdom of Witness.

The Martyrdom of Blood, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, is the “supreme witness given to the truth of the faith.”[22] Before the choice of either betraying Christ or dying for Christ, the martyr of blood remains faithful and pours out his life for love of Christ. We think immediately of the many martyrs among the first Christians, beginning with Saint Stephen and also the martyrs down the centuries, for example, Saint Peter Verona, Saint Thomas a Becket, Saint Boniface, Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, the North American Martyrs, Saint Paul Miki and his Companions (the Martyrs of Japan), Saint Andrew Kim and his Companions (the Martyrs of Korea), Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companions (the Martyrs of Uganda), and a host of others. Today, we think of the Christians who have been beheaded or otherwise killed in Iraq and other countries by Islamic terrorists because they refuse to deny their faith in Jesus Christ and to embrace Islam.

Father Hardon reminds us of the many martyrs of blood in our own time, who “join with Christ in expiation [of the enormity of today’s sins] and in an urgent plea for God’s mercy.”[23] Father Hardon also reminds us that the martyrs of blood, uniting their suffering and dying to the Suffering and Death of Christ, apply “the fruits of the [world’s] redemption to a sinning human race.”[24] He concludes: “One thing we dare not forget is that these present day martyrs are our fellow-members of the Mystical Body. Through their sufferings we are all made richer, as through their merits the whole Church becomes more holy.”[25]

The second form of martyrdom is the Martyrdom of Persecution or of opposition. Through the martyrdom of persecution, the faithful suffer greatly even though their suffering does not end in violent death. One thinks, for instance, of the suffering of so many Christians under the various communist regimes of our time. Sometimes these martyrs of persecution have spent years in prisons in Siberia or in Viet Nam. The Servant of God reminds us that many martyrs of persecution “are ostensibly free to walk the streets and live in a home,” but “they are deprived of every human liberty to practice their religion and to serve Christ according to their faith.”[26]Today, in Iraq and other countries, the faithful who refuse to apostasize and are not executed prefer to leave all of their belongings behind, in order to travel as exiles to a foreign country, unknown to them, in which they can live in accord with their faith.

One cannot help but think of the current situation in some nations. A totally secularized government makes legal and even promotes the most grievous violations of the moral law, for example, procured abortion, euthanasia, so-called “same-sex marriage,” human cloning and the wholesale destruction of human embryos for the sake of research, and now is trying to force Catholics and other persons of good will to cooperate formally in evil acts to the total violation of their conscience. Catholics are called today, more than ever, to stand up for the truth which Christ teaches us, even if it means loss of goods, government harassment and imprisonment. I think, for instance, of the threat of the loss of tax exemption, with its disastrous effects on many apostolates of the Church, which may be the necessary result of holding true to our faith and the moral law. We can do nothing less than to hold true to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to the truth which He hands on to us in His Holy Church, no matter what suffering or persecution we may face.

Father Hardon illustrates the nature of martyrdom of persecution or opposition through the text of the Book of Wisdom, chapter 2, verses 6 through 19. The text teaches us that there are two reasons “why worldly people persecute those who are trying to serve God.”[27] First of all, “the godless (as they are called) say to themselves with misguided reasoning that all they have to look for is what this world offers them.”[28] The text from the Book of Wisdom reads: “Come, then, let us enjoy what good things there are, use this creation with the zest of youth. Let none of us forego his part in our orgy, let us leave the signs of our revelry everywhere.”[29]

Secondly, “they turn their attention to the faithful believers who are a standing rebuke to the godless.”[30] The text of the Book of Wisdom reads:

As for the virtuous man who is poor, let us oppress him; let us not spare the widow, nor respect old age, white-haired with many years. Let our strength be the yardstick of virtue, since weakness argues its own futility. Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us, and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our breaches of the law and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing.”[31]

As the text makes clear, the follower of the truth written by God on every human heart will suffer persecution at the hands of those who prefer the immediate convenience and pleasure of lies, even the grossest of lies. The suffering is greatly increased by the betrayal of the truth by those who claim to follow Christ and to be members of His Church, even Bishops, priests and consecrated religious.

The Martyrdom of Persecution is a participation in the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, brings the deepest joy to the Christian, notwithstanding the intensity of suffering involved. Saint Paul who suffered so much persecution and finally a martyr’s death for the sake of Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church, provides us with a profound meditation on the significance of the Martyrdom of Persecution. In the Letter to the Colossians, he writes:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ. For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me.[32]

The sufferings of Christ are perfect. What remains is for us to unite ourselves to Christ in His suffering for the sake of the salvation of the world. Christ has won the victory over sin, the victory of eternal life, but it remains for us to live that victory in the circumstances of our daily lives, also in the face of persecution. By doing so, the glory of Christ appears in us and draws many to eternal salvation.

The third form is the Martyrdom of Witness, which is the most common. In the words of Father Hardon, “no follower of Christ can escape it.”[33] The martyr of witness may not face active opposition, but he faces passive opposition at the hands of “those who lack a clear vision of the Savior or who, having had it, lost their former commitment to Christ.”[34] Father Hardon describes the situation with these words:

Here the firm believer in the Church’s teaching authority: the devoted servant of the papacy; the convinced pastor who insists on sound doctrine to his flock; the dedicated religious who want to remain faithful to their vows of authentic poverty, honest chastity, and sincere obedience; the firm parents who are concerned about the religious and moral training of their children and are willing to sacrifice generously to build and care for a Christian family – natural or adopted – such persons will not be spared also active criticism and open opposition. But they must especially be ready to live in an atmosphere of coldness to their deepest beliefs.[35]

Here the suffering often comes from “the studied indifference of people whom [the devout faithful] know and love, of persons of their own natural or religious family, of men and women whose intelligence they respect and whose respect they cherish.”[36]

In the words of Father Hardon, the martyrdom “lies in the deprivation of good example to us on the part of our contemporaries, and is the practice of Christian virtue in loneliness, because those who witness what we do are in the majority – numerically and psychologically – and we know they are being embarrassed by the testimony. We witness to them, indeed, but they are not pleased to witness who we are, what we stand for, what we say, or what we do.”[37] Such martyrdom is the daily witness offered by every faithful Catholic in a totally secularized society, and in the Church which too suffers secularization.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger addressed the situation of the martyrdom of witness today in his homily during the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff, celebrated before the conclave during which he was elected to the See of Peter. He spoke of how “the thought of many Christians” has been tossed about, in our time, by various “ideological currents,” observing that we are witnesses to the “human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error,” about which Saint Paul wrote in his Letter to the Ephesians.[38] He noted that, in our time, those who live according to “a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church” are viewed as fundamentalists, as extremists, while relativism, that is, “letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’,” is extolled.[39] Regarding the source of the grave moral evils of our time, he concluded: “We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”[40] The climate of the dictatorship of relativism makes the martyrdom of witness ever more urgent, while, at the same time, subjects the Christian giving such witness to a particular form of suffering.

Father Hardon concludes by reminding us that the martyrdom of witness is by no means fruitless. He reminds us that, while our witness will surely cost us greatly in human terms, “God’s grace is always active in the hearts of everyone whose path we cross.”[41] Even as the blood of martyrs has produced great increase in the Church in every age and in every place, so, too, our daily faithful martyrdom of witness will not fail to bear great fruit for the transformation of our society.

Referring to the early martyrs of the Church, Father Hardon teaches us:

But their patience and meekness finally prevailed. Yes, but only because it was supported by unbounded courage, born not of their own strength but of the power that Christ promised to give all His followers that shall witness to His name everywhere. This promise is just as true today. All that we need is to trust in the Spirit whom we possess, and never grow weary in giving testimony to the grace we received.[42]

Let us never cease to implore our Lord for all the graces we need to be His faithful witnesses in the world, especially the grace of courage in paying the price of suffering for doing what is right and good.

In his book, Spiritual Life in the Modern World, in which the Servant of God sets forth in a clear way the meaning of our communion with Christ in His Suffering, Passion and Death, he quoted Saint Ignatius of Loyola, his “father in God” about the need to ask God in prayer for sufferings, in order that the love of God might grow in our hearts. Father Hardon then commented:

The trouble with quotations like this from the mystics is that we are liable to think that they were unlike ourselves. Not so. They shrank from sacrifice and the cross as much as we do. But here precisely is the secret of sanctity. It is possible, through divine grace, for the love of God to reach a degree in our hearts where we experience joy in suffering. Honest, really! And it is a taste of this joy which the Savior promised to all who sincerely strive to become like Him by embracing what He embraced – the cross – He, out of love for His Father; we, out of love for Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The cost of loving God is high but God comes through. He rewards the price we pay with an experience of His presence, a sense of His intimacy, and a joy that, the saints tell us, is so sweet they would not exchange their sufferings for all the pleasures in the world. Let us ask our Savior to not just listen or hear what those who learned to love God tell us but to teach us from experience that this great wisdom is true.[43]

The Servant of God was realistic about the high price to be paid for remaining faithful to Christ, but at the same time he was confident in the help of God’s grace to make us wise and strong in paying the price, no matter how high, while also giving us the consolation of an ever deeper communion with Christ in His Suffering and Dying which leads to His Rising from the Dead.


In the context of the Rome Life Forum, I close by expressing my deep appreciation for the martyrdom which so many of you embrace for the sake of the defense of human life and its cradle in the conjugal union of husband and wife. It is my hope that these few reflections on Christian martyrdom in the thought of the Servant of God Father John A. Hardon, S.J., are of some help to you in coming to a deeper knowledge of Christ and of our life in Him in His holy Church. In a particular way, I hope that they will inspire you to draw ever more fully upon the strong grace of the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and upon the grace of your state in life, especially for those consecrated in the Sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders, in order to turn over your life more completely to Christ, to give your heart, one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, more totally into the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

May Mary Immaculate, the Mother of God, to whom the Servant of God turned so often in his prayers, intercede for us daily, so that we may be true martyrs for the love of Christ and of His Mystical Body the Church. When times are difficult, as they frequently may be, I find it helpful to remind myself of the reason of our witness: love of Christ and of His Mystical Body, the Church. I love Christ, and I love His Mystical Body, the Church, and so do you. We embrace indifference, ridicule, rejection, and other forms of persecution because we love Our Lord and all our brothers and sisters in Him, in His holy Church.

Thank you. God bless you.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

The VIDEO of His Eminence’s address is available here:


[1] Jn 8, 11.

[2] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 815. [CCC].

[3] John A. Hardon, S.J., Marian Catechist Manual (Bardstown: Eternal Life, 2000), p. xv. [MCM].

[4] “… consortium humanum spiritu christiano ubique denuo imbuendum est.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Adhortatio Apostolica Christifideles Laici, “De vocatione et missione Laicorum in Ecclesia et in mundo,” 30 Decembris 1988, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 81 (1989), p. 455, n. 34. [CL]. English translation: Pope John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, 30 December 1988, “On the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World” (Vatican City State: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1988), p. 96, no. 34. [CLEng].

[5] “Id [consortium humanum spiritu christiano imbuendum] tamen possibIle erit, si christianus communitatum ipsarum ecclesialium contextus, quae his in regionibus et nationibus degunt,renovetur.” CL, 455, n. 34. English translation: CLEng, p. 96, no. 34.

[6] “…testari quomodo christiana fides responsum constituat unice plene validum, ab omnibus plus minusve conscie agnitum et invocatum, ad quaestiones et exspectationes, quas vita ipsa homini et societatibus imponit singulis.” CL, 455, n. 34. English translation: CLEng, p. 96, no. 34.

[7] “…hiatum inter Evangelium et vitam in seipsis superare valeant, in quotidianis familiae navitatibus, in labore et in societate unitatem vitae componentes, quae in Evangelio lucem et vim pro sua plena invenit adimpletione.” CL, 455, n. 34. English translation: CLEng, p. 96, no. 34.

[8] MCM, pp. xv-xvi.

[9] Cf. Robert Sarah and Nicolas Diat, Dieu ou rien (Paris: Fayard, 2015).

[10] Cf. Robert Sarah and Nicolas Diat, God or Nothing, tr. Michael J. Miller (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2015).

[11] MCM, p. xvii.

[12] MCM, p. xvi.

[13] MCM, p. xvi.

[14] CCC, no. 2472.

[15] CCC, no. 2473.

[16] “Equidem mandatum Iesu: «Euntes praedicate evangelium» sua vi perpetuo viget ac inoccidue urget: verumtamen praesens rerum conditio, non solummodo in mundo sed in pluribus quoque Ecclesiae partibus, omnino requirit ut Chrisi verbo promptius ac magis dilatato corde obtemperetur; quivis discipulus ita in sua ipsius persona interpellatur, ut nullus se in proprio responso eliciendo retrahere possit: «Vae enim mihi est, si non evangelizavero!» (1 Cor 9, 16). CL, 454, n. 33. English translation: CLEng, p. 94, no. 33.

[17] Acts 1, 18.

[18] John A. Hardon, S.J., Holiness in the Church (Bardstown, KY: Eternal Life, 2000), p. 29. [Holiness].

[19] Holiness, p. 30.

[20] Acts 5, 40-41.

[21] Holiness, p. 31.

[22] CCC, no. 2473.

[23] Holiness, p. 32.

[24] Holiness, p. 33.

[25] Holiness, p. 33.

[26] Holiness, p. 33.

[27] Holiness, p. 35.

[28] Holiness, p. 35.

[29] Wis 2, 6.

[30] Holiness, p. 35.

[31] Wis 2, 10-12.

[32] Col 1, 24-29.

[33] Holiness, p. 36.

[34] Holiness, p. 36.

[35] Holiness, p. 38.

[36] Holiness, p. 38.

[37] Holiness, p. 38.

[38] “…correnti ideologiche… pensiero di molti cristiani… sull’inganno degli uomini, sull’astuzia che tende a trarre nell’errore.” “Initium Conclavis,” 18 Aprilis 2005, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 97 (2005), 687. [IC]. English translation: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff: Monday, 18 April: Homily by the Cardinal who became Pope,” L’Osservatore Romano Weekly Edition in English, 20 April 2005, p. 3. [ICEng]. Cf. Eph 4, 14.

[39] “… una fede chiara, secondo il Credo della Chiesa… il lasciarsi portare «qua e là da qualsiasi vento di dottrina».” IC, 687. English translation: ICEng, p. 3.

[40] “Si va costituendo una dittatura del relativismo che non riconosce nulla come definitivo e che lascia come ultima misura solo il proprio io e le sue voglie.” IC, 687. English translation: ICEng, p. 3.

[41] Holiness, p. 38.

[42] Holiness, p. 39.

[43] John A. Hardon, S.J., Spiritual Life in the Modern World (Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1982), p. 99.

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