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On the Call to Martyrdom

"Not an Exception Reserved Only to Some Individuals"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2007 (Zenit)- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Sunday before leading the recitation of the midday Angelus. The address followed the beatification ceremony of 498 Spanish martyrs from the 20th century, celebrated by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes.

* * *

My dear brothers and sisters:

This morning, here, in St. Peter's Square, 498 martyrs, assassinated in Spain during the decade of the '30s in the last century, were beatified. I thank Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, who presided over the celebration, and I cordially greet the pilgrims gathered for this joyful occasion.

Adding such a great number of martyrs to the list of beatified persons shows that the supreme witness of giving blood is not an exception reserved only to some individuals, but a realistic possibility for all Christian people. It includes men and women of different ages, vocations and social conditions, who pay with their lives in fidelity to Christ and his Church.

The expression of St. Paul in today's liturgy adequately applies to them: "Beloved: I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith" (2 Timithoy 4:6-7). Paul, detained in Rome, saw death approaching and balances this awareness and hope. At peace with God and himself, he serenely confronted death, with the knowledge that he had surrendered his life totally to the service of the Gospel, without sparing anything.

October, the month dedicated in a special way to missionary commitment, ends with the luminous testimony of the Spanish martyrs, who join the martyrs Albertina Berkenbrock, Emmanuel Gómez Gonzáles and Adilio Daronch, and Franz Jägerstätter, who were beatified recently in Brazil and Austria.

Their example gives witness to the fact that baptism commits Christians to participate boldly in the spread of the Kingdom of God, cooperating if necessary with the sacrifice of one's own life. Certainly not everyone is called to a bloody martyrdom. There is also an unbloody "martyrdom," which is no less significant, such as that of Celina Chludzinska Borzecka, wife, mother, widow and religious, beatified yesterday in Rome: It is the silent and heroic testimony of many Christians who live the Gospel without compromises, fulfilling their duty and dedicating themselves generously in service to the poor.

This martyrdom of ordinary life is a particularly important witness in the secularized societies of our time. It is the peaceful battle of love that all Christians, like Paul, have to fight tirelessly; the race to spread the Gospel that commits us until death. May Mary, Queen of Martyrs and Star of Evangelization, help us and assist us in our daily witness.

[After the Angelus, the Pope greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus, including the group from the Oratory Prep School in Oxfordshire, England. The Gospel invites us to leave aside all arrogance and pride, and to walk in humility before God and with our neighbour. The Beatifications today remind us of the importance of humbly following our Lord even to the point of offering our lives for the faith. May your stay in Rome renew your love of Christ, and may God bless you all!

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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