“Where you see a red rose bush, there was a Jesuit told to lay down on the ground on his chest before he was executed.”
It is one thing to look at a stained glass window or a statue or take in a reading about someone being martyred for the faith. It is even something to hold on to a relic of a person, a piece of bone perhaps, who shed their blood for Christ. It is another thing to stand where they stood and speak to people who are of the age that they could have witnessed the blood.
The Church faces many trials in the United States, but “you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” Once in Slovenia we saw a restored church building that had odd striped sections on the outside of the building. Our guide told us that is where “the communists” through in the bombs and when the church was restored they left those sections decorated like that to remind future generations of when the Church was persecuted.
How powerful that is. “THIS IS THE SPOT.” No wonder the Church has always promoted pilgrimages. “Here is the ground. Here is the bullet. Here is the blood stained shirt.” It is not theory. It was not because they were drug lords but because they practiced the Catholic faith and set about bringing that freedom to others. There was nothing more important to them. “Love for life did not deter them from death.”
That was part of the marvel of our mission trip to El Salvador. To tell the truth, there is not much to see there. But in another respect there is everything to see. During the height of the civil war men with guns entered the Jesuit University, took the Jesuits and two women who were staying in the dorms (unexpectedly for the campus was supposed to be empty) and took them out on the lawn and shot them. The ploy failed however when a witness came forward to say what really happened and that began the end of the civil war. Today that area is a rose garden where a red rose was planted for the men and two golden roses for the two lay women, a mother and daughter.
In the shrine near by there are the bloody clothes, the blood tinted grass that was pulled up, the books with a bullet trail ripped through it. Here is inspiration for living for something greater than the self. How life lived faithfully and death faced bravely can continue to change the face of the earth; to know that such an action is not carried out in vain but continues to have repercussions both in this life and the next.