Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO
12th Tuesday in Ordinary Time
Feast of St. John Fisher
All sanctity is a sharing in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, as St John Fisher reminds us today. Like his fellow English martyrs, St John Fisher was faithful unto death in his conviction that Jesus Christ is the only supreme Head of the Church, and not the king or, in our time, the president of the United States.
“Mortify and crucify your body”, says St John Chrysostom, “and you too will receive the martyr’s crown”. The early monks understood this well. In the Christian soul, as in the Tower of London, the option is life or death: the spiritual death to sin with a corresponding growth in the life of love, or the eternal death of submission to the evils of the time.
Monks have always understood the bloodless martyrdom of the desert as a daily death with Christ. They see the supreme act of martyrdom as capable of being transposed into the daily routine of monastic life. Monks contribute to the Church’s sanctification of our country and the world by slowly but steadily filling our daily lives with the spirit of divine love. The fundamental Christian vocation to leave everything for Christ can be expressed by living with Christ in a monastery until death, as well as by dying with him in a prison cell.
Moreover, the strength of the martyrs is also the strength of the monks and of all faithful Catholics: we all become holy in the measure in which we begin to live the Eucharist which we celebrate. “Those who are going to die for Christ must remember the Eucharist which they have received”, writes St Cyprian. In the same way, those who are to live for Christ must remember the Eucharist which we receive, especially at the present time in our country, when an aggressive secularism wants to blame Christians for the Orlando massacre. We learn through the Eucharist to discern the Body of the Lord in the details of our lives. It is this which we offer to Christ so that he may accept our offering and transform it with the words, “This is my Body”.