Back to Blog

We conquer in dying- Famous martyr quotes vol.3

Commodianus, c. AD 240

I admonish the faithful not to hold their brothers and sisters in hatred. Hatred is considered ungodly even in martyrs for the flame.†The martyr is destroyed whose confession is of such a kind, Nor is it taught that this evil is expiated by the shedding of blood. A law is given to the unrighteous man so that he may restrain himself.†Therefore, he ought to be free from ill will; you ought to as well! You sin twice against God, if your strife reaches your brother. You will not avoid sin following your former way of life.† Thou hast once been washed [i.e., baptized]:†shall you be able to be immersed again? (Instructions of Commodianus 47)

Since, O son, you desire martyrdom, hear.†Be like Abel was, or like Isaac himself, or Stephen, who chose for himself on the way the righteous life.† You indeed desire something suited for the blessed. First of all, overcome the evil one with your good deeds by living well. Then, when he who is your King sees you, be secure. … Even now, if you have conquered by good deeds, you are [already] a martyr in him.†You, therefore, who seek to extoll martyrdom with your word, clothe yourself during this time of peace with good deeds, and be secure. (Instructions of Commodianus 62)

Cyprian, c. AD 250

And, as the Eucharist is appointed for this very purpose, that it may be a safeguard to the receivers, it is necessary that we may arm those whom we wish to be safe against the adversary with the protection of the Lord’s abundance. For how do we teach or provoke them to shed their blood in confession of his name, if we deny to those who are about to enter warfare the blood of Christ? Or how do we make them fit for the cup of martyrdom, if we do not first admit them to drink, in the church, the cup of the Lord by the right of communion? (Letters of Cyprian 53:2)

tyrEusebius, 323

“The servants of Christ residing at Vienne and Lyons, in Gaul, to the brethren in Asia and Phrygia … The greatness of the tribulation in this region, the fury of the heathen against the saints, and the sufferings of the blessed witnesses, we cannot recount accurately, nor indeed could they possibly be recorded. For with all his might the adversary fell upon us, giving us a foretaste of his unbridled activity at his future coming. He endeavored in every manner to practice and exercise his servants against the servants of God, not only shutting us out from houses and baths and markets, but forbidding any of us to be seen in any place whatever. But the grace of God led the conflict against him, and delivered the weak, and set them as firm pillars, able through patience to endure all the wrath of the evil one. They joined battle with him, undergoing all kinds of shame and injury. Regarding their great sufferings as little, they hastened to Christ, revealing truly that ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us.” (Church History. Book V. Chapter I. Par. 3-6.)

Then the others were examined, and the prime witnesses were obviously ready and finished their confessing with all  eagerness. But some appeared unprepared and untrained, weak as yet, and unable to endure so great a conflict. About ten of these proved abortions, causing us great grief and sorrow beyond measure and impairing the zeal of the others who had not yet been seized. These, though, suffered all kinds of affliction, continued constantly with the witnesses, and did not forsake them. Then all of us feared greatly on account of uncertainty as to their confession; not because we dreaded the sufferings to be endured, but because we looked to the end and were afraid that some of them might fall away. But those who were worthy were seized day by day, filling up the number [of the witnesses], so that all the zealous persons, and those through whom especially our affairs had been established, were collected together out of the two churches [Vienne and Lyons].” (Church History. Book V. Chapter I. Par. 11-13.)

Thomas Aquinas, d. 1274

With regard to heretics, two considerations are to be kept in mind: (1) on their side, (2) on the side of the Church.

(1) There is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the church by excommunication, but also to be shut off from the world by death. For it is a much more serious matter to corrupt faith, through which comes the soul’s life, than to forge money, through which temporal life is supported. …

(2) But on the side of the Church there is mercy, with a view to the conversion of them that are in error; and therefore the Church does not straightway condemn, but *after a first and a second admonition* (emphasis in original), as the Apostle teaches [Tit. iii. 10]. After that, if he be found still stubborn, the Church gives up hope of his conversion and takes thought for the safety of others, but separating him from the Church by sentence of excommunication; and, further, leaves him to the secular court, to be exterminated from the world by death. (Summa Theologica ii Q.xi, Article III; cited by Henry Bettenson, ed.; Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., paperback [Oxford Univ. Press, 1967], p. 134)

Now if heretics who return were always taken back, so that they were kept in possession of life and other temporal goods, this might possibly be prejudicial to the salvation of others … Therefore, in the case of those who return for the first time, the Church not only receives them to penance, but preserves their lives … But when, after being taken back, they again relapse … they are admitted to Penance, if they return, but not so as to be delivered from sentence of death. (Summa Theologica ii Q.xi, Article III; cited by Henry Bettenson, ed.; Documents of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., paperback [Oxford Univ. Press, 1967], p. 134-5)

Facebook Comments

Share this post

Back to Blog