Wednesday, December 2, 2015

To the Martyrs (Emmaus Road Publishing)

When we think of martyrs, our minds race back to St. Stephen the Protomartyr or the thousands of Christians persecuted under Nero, Diocletian, and other Roman emperors. We tend to ignore the persecutions, deaths, and martyrs that are occurring this very day! With his recent book To the Martyrs, Cardinal Donald Wuerl not only walks us through the centuries long examples of martyrdom, but challenges us to realize the current persecutions happening and speak out against them too!

The book begins with a Foreword by Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. In his opening words, he explains what a martyr and martyrdom actually are. In today's world, we tend to see martyrdom as murder, but the word actually means witness. Martyrs witness is the free giving up of their lives for the ultimate truth that is Jesus Christ. Cardinal Wuerl then explains in the first chapter how martyrdom is the "supreme testimony." He speaks of the value of books, sermons, etc. but say that they all pale in comparison to the ultimate testimony of blood that is shed by martyrs.

The following chapters then highlight examples of martyrdom through the ages. It begins in the Old Testament with the brothers who were executed in 2 Maccabees. Next, we learn of Stephen's martyrdom in the Acts of the Apostles and persecutions that occurred in the Early Church such as Ignatius of Antioch, Perpetua, and Felicity. We then see martyrdom that occurred in the Byzantine Empire due to the Arab Invasion and martyrdom that occurred in the West due to Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution. Reading through all these chapters proved to be a sobering history lesson, but the most eye-opening chapters were the final four. In these chapters Cardinal Wuerl tells of modern-day martyrdom which occurs in the Middle East and we see constantly on the news and YouTube. He also speaks of the prejudice Catholics face in the United States and how it has become acceptable. Lastly, he ties all Christians together and reinforces the point that it is not just Catholics being martyred today but Orthodox and Protestants as well!

This book is part history lesson, part tribute, and part wake up call. Cardinal Wuerl does a masterful job of weaving all three elements together to create the definitive book on martyrs. He not only educates us, but encourages us to speak out against the atrocities facing Christians on a global scale. May we heed his call and remain silent no longer. May we fight for our the lives of our fellow Christians, and may the blood of the new martyrs be the seeds of a global revolution that strengthens the Church and brings people to Jesus Christ!

This book was provided to me for free by Emmaus Road Publishing in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here! For a limited time (until 12/23), you can get this book for $17.25 straight from the publisher, which is cheaper than Amazon!