Are you ready to be a martyr? I certainly am not. To be a martyr is to die for the faith, and I’m too chicken-hearted for that. I hope to fall asleep and wake up in Heaven.

Today is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr, who was fearless in proclaiming the Word of God despite threats of violence against him. He was filled with grace, power and wisdom and performed great wonders and signs, and the elders seethed with fury at him. At one point, while filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. When he proclaimed his vision, that was the last straw for them, and they rushed upon him and threw him out of the city, ultimately stoning him to death.


One of the witnesses to Stephen’s stoning was a young man named Saul, who went on to become a great persecutor of Christians before his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus and his subsequent 180-degree flip to becoming the ultimate missionary for Christ.

It’s so interesting that the Gospel continues in this same vein of suffering for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus tells His disciples to beware of men who will hand them over to courts and scourge them and lead them before governors and kings. It’s kind of a foreshadowing of what will happen to Jesus himself during His passion.

Christ goes on to say, “brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.”


It appears that some of this is already happening. People turning over others who are not toeing the line according to government decrees. I just heard the news of the vast number of Christians being persecuted in Nigeria and suffering horrific deaths. Newly formed martyrs!

“You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

That’s our mission. To persist in the faith, despite laws being passed that are contradictory to Christ’s teachings. We will suffer ridicule from family members and friends for not living “enlightened” lives. But it’s ok if people think we’re old-fashioned. We need to stay true to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Let us remember Christ’s own phrase “… but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

Merry Christmas to all and a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful Year to each and every one of you.

Arlene Braganza

Arlene Braganza is a life-long Catholic who was born and raised in Bahrain and now resides in California. She has been married for over 35 years and has one married daughter living in Los Angeles and a son living in New York. She works as an Office Manager for a busy CPA firm (31 years and counting) and tries to make it to Daily Mass even during the stressful tax season.

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