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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Exclusive Representation of the Nativity Scene.
In the early days of the Church, a pagan king sent for a bishop and ordered him to sacrifice to idols. The bishop refused, and the tyrant threatened him with death. “Let us suppose,” said the bishop boldly, “that one of your servants is taken by the enemy and that, instigated to treachery, he remains faithful to you; let the furious enemy then strip him of his clothes and send him back to you naked. What would you do? Would you not clothe him with brand new clothes? The same is true of me. You threaten me, the servant of the true God, that if I do not deny Him, you will strip me of the garment of my soul, that is, kill my body. But God will give me back this garment which I will lose for love of Him.”
God will give the martyrs their lives back. Jesus Christ promised that whoever loses his life for His sake will get it back. (S. Matth. 10, 39.)
Baronius reports in his Annals the following fact. In the year 523, a mother and her only child were arrested by the tyrant Dunaan on account of their religion. The mother was condemned to the fire, while the child was spared. “I want,” he cried, “to accompany my mother! I also want to become a martyr! – Do you want to be a martyr?” replied the tyrant. “Do you know what it is? – Oh yes, said the child; to be martyred is to give one’s life to Christ for love, and to receive it again immediately afterwards.”
To lose one’s life for God is to enter heaven immediately; so the Church never prays for martyrs.