Chances are that not many people would have ever heard of Father Jacques Hamel who lived and tended his parish in Normandy, a usually peaceful and quiet town. However, two lone wolf thugs with the ‘blessing’ of ISIS attacked the parishioners at a quiet morning Mass in Sainte-Etienne-du Rouvray this week. The Mass was in progress so their timing was perfect for trying to desecrate a faith they couldn’t even begin to understand. Father Hamel was killed at the altar in front of his small gathering of attendees and died in the Presence of the God he obviously loved. Even if the Consecration hadn’t occurred yet, the Blessed Sacrament was in the tabernacle so dying a martyr and coming face to face with his Maker could have been a swift transition for this priest. He probably went quietly about his ministry in life and in opposition to what the murderers would have liked, his death is now famous and a beacon and waning to all Christians that ISIS’ war on the world is particularly against the Christians of the world although they could care less about collateral ‘damage’ in their killing sprees.
I read that Father Hamel is the first martyr since the French Revolution. Father seemed a quiet man so I imagine he is happy to be out of the publicity fray although I’m sure the liberal world will downplay the martyrdom aspect in favor of trying t discern the ‘real’ reason ‘someone’ upset the two shooters causing them to attempt and succeed at such harm.
In our modern world, martyrdom can seem like a thing of the past only because we have been ignoring the years and years of prejudice against Christians in the Middle East. There is some shock, today, about people being killed, crucified, and tortured for merely being Christians yet the fact that it isn’t entirely new in that part of the world doesn’t usually make the media reporting fairy tales circulating the evening news.
The world has been taking a left turn at Heaven’s gate during the last few decades and practicing Christians and Catholics might be lower in numbers. Attendance at churches isn’t at an all-time high even in the face of the advance of ISIS and the mismanagement of the government siding with any and everyone except the God-fearing factions.
Yes, Father Jacques Hamel didn’t actively pursue martyrdom but the instruments of martyrdom came searching him out at that morning Mass. He died in the process of doing what he obviously loving doing for decades. God Willing, his blood washed away any residual sins that might have waylaid him in Purgatory on the trip to a heavenly eternity. It has to make one wonder that with the decrease in religion in the liberal world of today, how many would die for their religion if they hadn’t practiced it enough to care about it? Obviously, there is not enough prayer going on in the world or the world wouldn’t be filled with so much corruption and ‘selfie’-minded absorption. If we haven’t been actively looking for God all the years of our lives and He sought to take us at our best, most optimal moment, will we have the wherewithal to say ‘yes’ to Him or will we even recognize the meaning of a blessed eternity.