Thursday, October 18, 2007

Green martyrdom?

Front Royal, Va, Oct 12, 2007 / 04:35 pm (CNA).- Father Thomas J. Euteneur, president of Human Life International, said Christian martyrdom will take on different forms in the future. Writing in a letter titled "Green Martyrdom," he suggested that Christian witness will not be a "red martyrdom" of blood but rather a "green martyrdom" of monetary sacrifice required by principled living.
He explained the subtle economic forces that can compromise the faithful: "even though many Catholics would undoubtedly give up their lives for Christ, people find it much harder to give up their jobs for Christ."

My initial response to this only in America do we need to make up a new type of martyrdom fitting to our safe and secure civil and social environment.

But then I read;
“In the book How the Irish Saved Civilization (Doubleday), Thomas Cahill talks about [green] martyrdom. According to Cahill, Ireland was unique in that Christianity was introduced there without bloodshed (red martyrdom). No Irish martyrs emerged until the time of Elizabeth I. Cahill states that this lack of martyrdom disturbed the Irish, so they conceived first of a green martyrdom.
Green martyrs left behind the comforts and pleasures of ordinary human society to live hermits' lives on mountaintops or lonely islands. As Cahill puts it, they went "to one of the green noman's lands outside tribal jurisdiction." There they studied Scripture and communed with God after the example of the anchorites in the Egyptian desert. Ireland could not duplicate the barren terrain of the Egyptian desert; thus, this green martyrdom gave way to the more social life of monasticism.”

So now I amend my comment to only in Ireland. But upon further reflection I wonder if this is indeed our cross. By “our” I mean American’s. We really have nothing to worry about and no real suffering occurs in our lives other than that which is common to all. We are not oppressed or persecuted and there is no real danger of that happening.
Yet, still we complain about the new liturgy or music or vernacular. Certainly things about which we should pray.
In light of that I offer the following.
1. Ought we not be the most loving joyful generous dare I say happy Christian’s in the world?
2. If not why not?
3. If so why are we not and what must we do to become what we ought to be?


Laura The Crazy Mama said...

I would love to be a green martyr. Running up to the hills to just be and pray sounds like a nice life to me. But, I can't take my family with me without spending lots of money...and I can't make that money up thar in them hills so...I guess I'll be witnessing a purple martyrdom. The one where you have to stay, grin and bear it all, and turn purple because my head is constantly on the verge of exploding.

Traditio said...

First of all nice post, informative and thought provoking. Thanks.

I think your referring to this as “carrying a cross” is much more appropriate than using the word “martyrdom”. Using the word martyrdom may elevate the person making the monetary sacrifice, but it also acts to lessen the whiteness those who gave their lives for the faith.

“Ought we not be the most loving joyful generous dare I say happy Christian’s in the world?”

We could answer yes only if we are to find our joy and happiness in having nothing to worry about, having no real suffering, and not being oppressed or persecuted. Yet Jesus tells his followers to expect it (Jn 15:20) and that they are blessed because of it (Lk 6:22). So a case could be made that the most joy and happiness can be found where the true joy and happiness found in Christ is not competing with the objects and comforts of this world.

By saying this I don’t mean to let us off the hook though, we have built our own prison of selfishness and apathy, walked inside, closed the door, and turned the lock. We would love to through away the key and claim that we can’t leave because we’re locked in, but we can’t. We hold the key in our hand and choose not to use it. The only thing stopping us from leaving this prison is our love for it. And since this love cannot bring us true happiness, we will never really be.

We should be as loving, joyous, and generous as any other Christian likewise called. Not because of our wealth and comfort, but in spite of it.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Good points, traditio. I am FAR from being anything resembling a martyr, even with my purple, explosive head ;)