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  • Sarah Beth Dippel



Today is the Feast day of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions. St. Charles Lwanga was a convert to the faith and a catechist to a group of twenty-two martyrs in southern Uganda. On June 3rd, 1886, Charles was burned to death for his belief. With his dying breath, he called out, "Katonga wange - Oh God!"

St. Charles and the twenty-two martyrs gave up their lives, 134 years ago today, for their unwillingness to turn away from God. St. Paul tells us in today's reading,

God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God. (2 Tm 1:6-7)

We are called to live a holy life through the grace and power of our Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is fortitude. Fortitude gives us courage in the face of evil. Most of us will not be red martyrs, shedding our blood rather than forsaking the Lord. Instead, we are called to white martyrdom. A white martyr willingly offers up all worldly interests and makes their life a perpetual pilgrimage, living a life of heroic devotion for Christ alone.

While that means we won't have to endure a death similar to St. Charles and his companions, it might feel more difficult. To live in the world but not of the world takes a daily devotion, a daily "yes," to live a life that is different from the rest of society. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are simply seeds that we must cultivate and water so that they will grow roots of faith in us. To change ourselves, our culture, our society, the divine light of the Gospel must shine its rays on our frozen hearts.

St. Paul says he is not ashamed to suffer because he knows Him, in whom he has believed. Unless we know Christ, we will never be willing to die for Him.

Katonga wange!

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