You can be a martyr even without the bloodshed, says Commodianus, a North African bishop who wrote in the early 200s. Whenever you set aside your unhealthy desires and avoid the traps of sin, you are a martyr—a witness to the power of Jesus Christ.
Birds are fooled, and the animals of the forest, by the very charms that bring their destruction. Caves as well as food deceive them. They do not know how to avoid evil, and they are not restrained by the law.
Law is given to humanity, and we choose a doctrine of life, from which we remember that it is possible to live carefully, and recall our own place, and get rid of things that cause death.
Whoever abandons rule condemns himself severely: he will be bound with iron, or lose his position, or be executed—he loses what he ought to be enjoying.
You have been warned by example. Do not commit serious sins. You have been transformed in baptism; have charity, and run away from the bait of the mousetrap, where there is death.
Many martyrdoms are made without shedding blood. Not to covet other people’s property; to wish for the benefit of martyrdom; to control your tongue; to make yourself humble; never to use force willingly or fight back when force is used against you—these things will give you a patient mind. And then, know that you are a martyr!
–Commodianus, Instructions, 48
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Lord, give me the strength to follow the example of the martyrs, who were loyal to you until the end. Help me be a strong and faithful witness to you.
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