Roses of Martyrdom - C. M. Cresswell
Dramatic stories of the lives of nine of the early martyrs of the Christian church. Most of the subjects, including Sts. Agnes, Lawrence, Genes, and Dorthea,suffered martyrdom during Rome persecutions in the first centuries of the Christian age. Others, such as St. Pelaguis and the Japanese Martyrs, suffered their fates during the middle ages.
"SEE YONDER, WHAT IS THAT?"
When you say the Te Deum, and come to those glorious words, "The noble army of Martyrs praise Thee," do you know what the word "martyr" actually means ? You will say, "Yes: a martyr is one who lays down his life for our Blessed LORD JESUS CHRIST and the Christian Faith." You will be quite right.
In its first and widest signification, however, the word "martyr," which is derived from the Greek, means a "witness." As those who contended for the Faith unto death, choosing rather to lay down their lives than to deny their LORD, were held to have more especially by their marvellous courage given proof of the divine origin of their religion, the word "martyr" came to be exclusively given, in honour, to them.
These are stories of such witnessesóCHRIST'S princes and princesses, who, through dark paths and bitter sufferings, trod to their reward in the King's country. They were beset by the powers of darkness and the spirits of evil, and the "great dragon who is called Satan"; but the good spirits, their angels, were at their sides to help them, and the King's might overshadowed them. So they came at last, victorious, to the royal Presence; and, truly, they do "live happy ever after!"
Every boy and girl of you who reads these stories must be, perhaps less gloriously, but no less truly, a prince or princess of CHRIST; for, on your foreheads, at your Baptism, was set that Sign which, at last, must show you as one of His victorious children—or as a traitor. You too walk towards the King's country, seeking, if not the "roses of martyrdom," an eternal glorious reward; you too are opposed by the spirits of evil, and at the side of every one of you is your good spirit, your holy guardian angel, to help and defend you, that you, at last, may come into the King's palace to abide there for ever.
About 300 years ago a little Spanish girl, named Teresa, was so inflamed with love and faith at reading the acts of the martyrs that she longed for a similar glorious death and victory. Taking her little brother with her, she set out from her home, to seek for martyrdom among the Moors. The children were followed and brought back. Teresa might not die for CHRIST. She determined to do what she could, and to live for Him. So well did she persevere in her resolution that, though not a martyr, she is numbered among the saints.
We too, in these days, may not be called to die for CHRIST. We may not even care to hope to live for Him as gloriously as that Spanish girl. But we must all try to live in His strength as perfectly as we can, for our LORD JESUS CHRIST, that we may be, in these latter days, if not martyrs, in the noblest sense of the Greek word, nevertheless, witnesses to the divine truth of our blessed Faith.