By Fr. Paul Stark, S.J.
Vice President for Mission and Ministry
As we begin the second week of Lent, we're called to look not only at ourselves and how we live, but also to examine the ways God calls us to live. Tomorrow, March 7, we celebrate the lives and deaths of two people who consciously chose to do just that.
Perpetua, a young, well-educated, 3rd century noble woman from Carthage, and her pregnant handmaiden, Felicity, chose to live their faith openly in dangerous times. This young mother and mother-to-be knew full well that their belief in a loving God might mean they would suffer and die. Nevertheless, they chose not to hide their faith in safe places or to wait for safer times, but to live their faith in all of their lives. With this choice, they risked many dangers and the disapproval of their families, but they chose to remain true to who they were and who God asked them to be. These two Christian women were finally imprisoned and condemned to death in the arena to celebrate the birthday of the emperor.
As we journey this Lent to a clearer view of ourselves and to a closer reconciliation with God, we might take the examples of these young mothers as models for our own lives. Each of us has been given this season to look at our faith and how we live it in our lives. Maybe these two young mothers can remind us that this faith is not simply meant for the safe and comfortable parts of our lives, but for the gritty, complex times of every day. Maybe these two young mothers can remind us that our faith is not something to be pulled out when it is convenient, or when we people around us support us, but that we need to live our faith every day, in all parts of our lives, the good, the bad and the rest.
As we move closer to Easter, we might recall the final words of Perpetua, Stand fast in the faith and love one another. In these times, as in the time of Perpetua and Felicity, living our faith is not always easy, or comforting, or supported. Living our faith is, though, sustaining, life-giving and supportive. We can seek--and find--the courage which comes with faith to live our faith in the times that are not always comfortable or supported by our culture.
As we strive to increase our faith in a loving God, and not just for one or two moments--we can allow that faith to be reflected in the way we live each moment of our lives, in how we treat and care for each other. We can watch our faith support others...a great gift to give, a better gift to receive.
Pray for strength, pray for courage, pray for faith, stand fast, love one another...
Have a blessed Lent.