January 20, 2011
Saints Fabian and Sebastian, Martyrs
I Peter 3: 14-17
Matthew 10: 28-33
Both the Epistle and the Gospel for the Mass on the Feast of Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian contain the same phrase: “Do not be afraid…” Fear is a very strong emotion and, unless it is checked and overcome, can paralyze a person; it can inhibit one from thinking, speaking or acting in a responsible manner.
The Scripture texts for this Feast encourage us to be courageous in our living out and our defense of the Faith. Both Saint Fabian, who was a successor to Saint Peter as Bishop of Rome and Saint Sebastian, who was Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, fearlessly witnessed to Christ by the shedding of their blood.
Today, in addition to the traditional martyrs of the 20th century found in Spain, Mexico, Russia, China and other countries, we are able to identify men and women who give public witness to their holy Catholic Faith by the manner in which they are living their Baptismal Vows. Among these “white martyrs,” so to say, are also many young people who go against and contradict the present culture and society of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Their persecutors are not Roman Emperors nor are they the dictators from the failed and corrupt regimes of Communism and National Socialism. Today, those who cause moral suffering among faithful followers of Christ are those who have given themselves over to atheistic secularism and a frenetic pursuit of pleasure, greed and indolence.
Theirs is a studied indifference to God and to all that is holy. Further, these people employ ridicule, scorn and contempt for anyone who is faithful to Christ and the Church.
May the example and intercession of the Holy Martyrs, Fabian and Sebastian and the prayers of Our Lady, Queen of martyrs, strengthen and encourage us to persevere in our own daily efforts to be strong witnesses to Christ and the Faith in the 21st century.