Mass Readings: Hosea 10:1-3,7-8,12/ Matthew 10:1-7

‘Optional’ Martyrs

Today’s commemoration of these saints is considered an optional feast by the Church, which means local churches may observe it but aren’t required to. Such liturgical hierarchy makes sense within our Catholic tradition. Yet the saints whose memory we honor today didn’t think of their martyrdoms as optional. St. Augustine Zhao Rong (d. 1815) was a diocesan priest in China who was martyred with more than 100 others. He and his companions were tortured and murdered in heinous ways. In their suffering, they persevered.

Dwelling on the specifics of their pain and suffering seems unnecessarily voyeuristic. We needn’t focus on the particulars in order to appreciate their example and endurance. Knowing that such people have walked the face of this earth gives us courage — courage that can help us face our own daily martyrdoms.

Prayer: St. Augustine Zhao Rong, help us persevere in our journeys.