Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Good, The True and The Beautiful


Manint, Matthew. 

With Glory and Honor You Crowned Them: The Female Martyrs of the Roman Canon  

Tamanrasset Press. 2019. Kindle Edition. 

    One of the risks we Kindle readers have is a tendency toward impulse buying. Well that is how I picked up Matthew Manint's book about the female martyrs of the Roman Canon. I did not regret my purchase in the least from the very first page. The book is just plain refreshing and that is enough for me.

    It is not a very big book and so you can read it in no time at all. I would recommend it to you for two reasons: first, it is a masterful description of heroic virtue unto martyr's death in the unlikely department of young women and girls; secondly, it treats legend in a manner after my own heart.

    Perhaps as much for men as for women in the Church today, we need to be confronted with this clarity of witness demonstrated in these saints already at a tender age. These women and girls, flawless not only in their physical beauty but above all in their attachment to the Bridegroom Christ, show us what the faith can inspire in an individual and how that witness can sway not only hearts well disposed but a world as well. 

    The quest of Pope Saint Paschal I in 821 for the relics of Saint Cecilia, martyred in 230 at Rome and buried in the catacombs which resulted in the discovery of her incorrupt body (600 years!) and then brought back to the light of day again, still incorrupt, in 1599, at the instructions of Cardinal Sfondrato during restoration works in his titular church, gives pause to think. There is an unequivocal message about the beauty of genuine holiness, about the vitality of Cecilia's single-hearted witness to Christ which kept her body from corruption for a millennium and a half.

    Matthew Manint does not shy away from the legends which have come to surround some of our heroines. His even-handed treatment of their biographies, verifiable or not, can aid those who search with a measure of skepticism which seems to me an enemy to the truth.

    Maybe gaining familiarity with these great women, might draw hearts back to the Roman Canon where they are enshrined. Over the course of my lifetime I am witness to a turning again from the iconoclasm of the late 1960's and 1970's which deprived us of our saints to their rediscovery. I wish for Catholics young and old a reacquaintance with such heroic virtue. It spread the faith, built cities and cultures, and could certainly turn one or another young head to that same kind of love affair with the Lord Jesus.



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