Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/25/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Are we listening?

We now carry the mission of preparing the way for the Lord. Like John the Baptizer, we are called to empty ourselves so that we can be filled up with the life of God. We are the ones now called to reveal Him to the world of our own age, an age that has lost its way, inebriated on self indulgence and blinded by the emptiness and arrogance of power.The Holy Father reminded us, "Today's world is sprinkled with martyrs: men and women who are put behind bars and killed just because they are Christian. And there are more of them today than there were in the early days of Christianity."

Crowd gathered for the Sunday Angelus message

Crowd gathered for the Sunday Angelus message


By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (

6/25/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: John the Baptizer, martyrs, witness, evangelization, Pope Francis, Angelus message, persecution, Deacon Keith Fournier

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Christians who live in the United States should begin viewing ourselves as living in a Pre-Christian culture. I long ago stopped participating in the ongoing debate about whether this is a post-Christian or post-modernist age. We would all use our energies and time better if we just accepted the obvious; this is a new pagan age.

However, we cannot stop there. Our task is to do what the early Christians did, proclaim in both word and deed the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and transform it from within; even if that means the shedding of our blood. If it does, God will give us the grace.

At Sunday's Angelus message, Pope Francis spoke about martyrdom. The Sunday Gospel was Luke's account (Luke 9: 18-24) of the encounter between the apostles and Jesus where he asks "Who do you say that I am"?

The response we give to that question is the most important response of our lives. It is also meant to become a daily response.We cannot get by on yesterdays answer.

After Peter gave his response, Jesus told them all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

Pope Francis used those words to challenge us to consider our own life response. He reminded us that to lose one's life does not only refer to physical death, although, "the martyrs offer the best example of losing one's life for Christ." 

The Greek word translated into English as martyr means witness. No matter what our vocation or state in life, we are all called to bear witness to Jesus Christ in our daily lives.

Whether we are called to shed our blood (traditionally called red martyrdom) or offer our sacrifices daily in a continuous life of poured-out love (traditionally called white martyrdom), we are all to bear witness.

Pope Francis affirmed the daily martyrdom of those who "do their duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus, the logic of giving, or sacrifice." He asked several questions to open up the truth.

"How many fathers and mothers who every day put into practice their faith by devoting their lives for the good of the family? How many priests, monks and nuns give generously their service to the kingdom of God? How many young people who give up their interests to devote their time to children, the disabled, and the elderly?" 

Then he turned to John the Baptizer as an example. John always deferred to the Lord. Called in the womb for a special vocation (Luke 1: 41-45), he led a voluntarily austere life, dwelling in the desert, eating a strange diet and detaching himself from the world. (Mark 1)

Why? In order to get himself ready for his particular vocational response to the Lord's invitation. He was a voice announcing the first coming of the Lord. He proclaimed this truth with  humility "the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie".

As Jesus gradually manifested Himself, John disappeared. He pointed his own disciples to Jesus saying to John and Andrew: "This is the Lamb of God." (John 1)

John the Baptizer was free from disordered self-love and ostentation. He was a man who practiced penitence as a way of life and found the freedom and joy which are its fruit.

He knew that it was never about him. He was a pre-cursor, one who always pointed to the coming of the Lord. When he held God Incarnate in His arms as He baptized Him, John saw the heavens open and the Trinity revealed. (Matt. 3:12-17)

Ever the faithful witness (Greek, martyrion) he embraced his vocation fully. He responded without reserve to God's call, even to the point of shedding his own blood, the ultimate witness. His self emptying teaches us to do the same in our own day and within our own calling.

Jesus paid John an extraordinary tribute, "Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11)

We now carry the mission of preparing the way for the Lord. Like John the Baptizer, we are called to empty ourselves so that we can be filled up with the life of God. We are the ones now called to reveal Him to the world of our own age, an age that has lost its way, inebriated on self indulgence and blinded by the emptiness and arrogance of power.

The Holy Father reminded us, "Today's world is sprinkled with martyrs: men and women who are put behind bars and killed just because they are Christian. And there are more of them today than there were in the early days of Christianity."

He asked, "How many people pay a high price for defending the truth? How many good men prefer to go against the current rather than ignore their conscience, the voice of truth?"

On June 29 we will commemorate the Feast of the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul in the Catholic Church calendar. These two great pillars of Christianity were both martyred for the faith.

Priests and deacons throughout the entire world will wear Red at the Liturgy, symbolizing that the blood of the Martyrs, as the Second Century Church Father Tertullian  proclaimed, "is the seed of the Church."

On the following day, June 30, we will wear Red as we commemorate the Martyrs of the First Church of Rome. The shedding of one's blood in fidelity to Jesus Christ is the final witness to the Faith. Those called to it are prepared by many invitations which precede it.

Pope Francis Challenges Contemporary Christians to Walk the Way of the Martyrs. We need to listen. We need to ask the Lord for the grace needed to bear witness to the truth. 


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'

Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.


More Year of Faith

The Happy Priest on the Baptism of the Lord and our own Baptism Watch

Image of

By Fr. James Farfaglia

The consideration of Jesus' baptism, gives us an opportunity to remember our own baptism.  If you do not know the date of your own baptism, it is a good idea to go through your personal files and find out when it occurred.  CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic ... continue reading

Regret of Judas or Repentance of Peter?

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - I didn't steal any cookies mommy! says a little boy whose mother asked him if he was hungry, wiping the ... continue reading

Pentecost: St Cyril of Jerusalem on The Living Water of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man's self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches ... continue reading

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading

The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading

Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading

Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading

The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading

Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading

Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading

All Year of Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 8:23--9:3
23 For is not everything dark as night for a country in distress? As the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14
1 [Of David] Yahweh is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear? ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:12-23
12 Hearing that John had been arrested he withdrew to ... Read More

Reading 2, First Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
10 Brothers, I urge you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 22nd, 2017 Image

St. Vincent Pallotti
January 22: St. Vincent Pallotti, Priest (Feast - January 22) ... Read More