Daily Reflection April 11 2008: St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr

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About the Saint:

St. Stanislaus was born in Poland about, 1030, and studied in Paris and Liege, before becoming Bishop of Cracow in 1071. St. Stanislaus was a pastoral Bishop, concerned with the reform of the Clergy and the sanctity of the people; he helped the poor, and made a visitation of the Clergy each year. In 1079 he came into conflict with King Boleslav, who had him murdered while he was presiding at the Altar of God.

He was Canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1253, and his first biography dates from that time.

Collect of the Day:

Father, to honour you, St. Stanislaus faced Martyrdom with courage. Keep us strong and loyal in our faith until death.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

First Reading: The Apocalypse 12:10-12: Even in the face of death these martyrs would not cling to life.

The Gospel: John 17:11-19: The world hates them.

St. Stanislaus was well known for imposing a strict dicipline both to his Clergy and Laity, so it comes as no real suprise to find that he soon fell foul of King Boleslav II whom he repeatedly reproved for his scandalous conduct. These conflicts eventually led to the King’s excommunication, which in itself became the Bishop’s own death sentence.

When I read of Saints such as Stanislaus, or others such as Oscar Romero who also was assassinated while performing the Holy Mass, it makes me reflect if I would have the faith to follow in their footsteps. It would be easy just to say yes I would, but our reaction to this type of circumstance is not really easy to gauge until one is called to do it.

In today’s reading from the book of the Apocalypse we are told:

“They have triumphed over him (the Devil) by the Blood of the Lamb and by the witness of their martyrdom, because even in the face of death they would not cling to life.”

The word Martyr comes from the Greek word Martur which translates as to be a witness, to bear record or to testify. So in essence we can say then that all Christians are called to be Martyrs. I do not mean that we have to shed our blood for the Faith like St. Stanislaus, thankfully there is not much call for that these days. Rather that we are all called to be a witness, to bear record and to testify to our Faith and Lord both through our living and manner of conduct.

We must be true to what we profess to believe. This is not always as easy as it sounds. With the world so quick to believe anything about Our Blessed Lord except what the Gospels state, it can be terribly hard to even admit to being Christian. Though we must be prepared for this as Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel:

“The world hated them (Christians) because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world.”

In essence as Scripture tells us we are called to be in the “World” but not of it. We must stand forward and tall especially in regards to Social Justice and bringing the Gospel to the poor and disenfranchised where ever we may find them, regardless of what popular opinion or institutions may tell us. This is where today we can be a real witness for the Lord and a testament to his Divine Mercy and grace. This is how St. Clement of Alexandria decribes Martyrdom:

“Each soul that has lived purely in the knowledge of God, and has obeyed the commandments, is a Martyr both by life and word, no matter how it may be released from the body—- shedding faith as blood along its whole life until departure.”

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, we praise you for St. Stanislaus, slain by enemy swords; grant that, strong in faith, we may persevere until death.

We make our prayer through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

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