The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

25 April 2015

Be ye lionhearted

I don't often post here pieces I've written for other sites.  Today's an exception.

April 25 is the Feast of St. Mark. He is known as St. Mark the Evangelist, and St. Mark the Lionhearted.  Isn’t ‘Lionhearted’ a wonderful name to have? It paints pictures of brave deeds and acts of courage, of nobility and fortitude. In the case of St. Mark the name is well earned. He preached and taught the gospel, winning many converts to Christ. He founded a Christian community in Alexandria, which grew into a large and thriving church, which roused the displeasure of non-believers who determined to stop him. He was captured, bound, dragged through the streets, imprisoned, and again dragged through the streets until he died. Accounts say the ground was stained with his blood and strewn with pieces of his flesh, but he continued to praise and thank God.  Lionhearted indeed.

 The Church continued to flourish in Alexandria and other cities St. Mark had visited. No doubt his teaching and exhortation were significant factors (along with the work of many other disciples busy spreading the Good News) but there was probably something else at work as well.

In June of 2014, Pope Francis said this: “The Church grows thanks to the blood of martyrs. This is the beauty of martyrdom. It begins with witness, day after day, and it can end like Jesus the first martyr, the first witness, the faithful witness, with blood.”

There are times when, as Pope Francis said, “historical situations require a strong witness.” He has spoken several times of the seeds planted by those who work for the gospel and die for the faith.  In the early Church, when new Christians were being persecuted in horribly creative ways, the fact that believers were willing to die for Christ was a profound, undeniable testament to the truth of the good news.

 Are we living in a time when “historical situations require a strong witness”? It would seem so. There are appalling stories coming from faraway places of beheadings, burnings, drownings, and mass shootings of Christians of many different confessions. Our brothers and sisters are paying with their lives for professing Jesus Christ as the Son of God. They are Lionhearted.
“The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and evil.”  This from Pope Francis a few days ago after the news broke that yet another group of Christians was killed.  The part of that sentence that caught my attention was the Holy Father’s use of ‘still’.  These martyrdoms cry out to be heard by those who can still distinguish between good and evil, which suggests that there are those who are no longer able to do so.  Good and evil are one and the same to them, which emphasizes the great need in the world for more – many more – seeds to be planted.  It may take many, many more martyrs to shed their blood, and it will also take us offering our own sacrifices, professing our faith in our own daily lives (which can be a martyrdom in some circumstances) but we can trust that Christ spoke the truth when He said there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and that the Kingdom of God will triumph.

St. Mark the Lionhearted, pray for us.


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    1. Thank you, Vadhiya. I don't know who you are, and I'm not about to click on your link, but your comment made me giggle and I always appreciate getting feedback, even when wrapped in advertisement for another site. Thanks for stopping by the Lighthouse.

  2. Thank you for making this exception. ARE we living in a time when “historical situations require a strong witness”? Yes, I definitely believe it is so. May St. Mark pray for us indeed.

  3. "These martyrdoms cry out to be heard by those who can still distinguish between good and evil, which suggests that there are those who are no longer able to do so. "

    Tess, doesn't that instill a little fear in all of us that still hold to the truth about good and evil? Good being called evil and evil good? This turns everything on its head and makes it very frustrating as we try to impart the truth of the Gospel. Very often I am loathed to say that we are witnessing the end times because we simply do not know when it will occur or how it will come about so we wait, watch and pray that we may be given the gift of discernment to recognize it should it come in our lifetime. However, nature abhors a vacuum and I sense that our societies as a whole have been infiltrated by the demonic filling the vacuum that has come about by the rejection of God in our lives. Yes, it is a bit intimidating to live in a world such as ours where it seems God has retreated a bit and left us to our own evil devices, waiting for us to return to Him. Though I wrote the word fear at the beginning and this fear may leak through at times we must remember that these are the times in our Church where saints are made. Our history is rife with violence against the Church and we seem to be entering into another era of persecution. We in the West have not experienced much of this before so it seems that we are treading on perilous ground. Lionhearted? It IS a great name and I believe we will witness the hearts of lions in people that we would not have expected to see, all by the grace of God. The war is won Tess. All that its left is the clean up in the aftermath.


  4. The war is won. I'll hold on to that.

    Nice to hear from you, Bobby. Thanks for visiting!