...The saints, especially these new martyrs of purity, are not presented to us in order to guilt us about our inability to have resisted a rape or any form of sexual abuse. Rather, the Church presents them to us as helpers, intercessors, and examples to support us in recovery, as well as our protection against such things happening in the first place. Yet happen it does, even to these new martyrs.
Each of these martyrs were brutally murdered because they resisted their attacker. Each was violated to some degree, yet forfeited her life in the process. This seems to make their sacrifice all the more poignant, and indicates to me, their intercession, made luminous and more powerful by their martyr’s blood, is all the more urgent before the throne of God.
Fr. Mark Kirby meditates on St. Barbara, virgin and martyr, whose feast is today.
Saint Barbara speaks to all who feel hemmed in and imprisoned by the circumstances of life. To all who feel shut in and imprisoned, to all who live behind walls, Saint Barbara says, "Lift your eyes to the light of the Most Holy Trinity. Let the glorious radiance of the Three Divine Persons shine in your solitude." Her message is that of Saint Paul who says, "Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you shall appear with Him in glory" (Col 3:2–4). Her message is that of the Apostle John: "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness" (1 Jn 1:5).
It is also the feast of St. John Damascene, who took on the iconoclasts in the seventh and eighth centuries.
ShareThe Son of God became man, in order that he might again bestow on man that favour for the sake of which He created him. For He created him after His own image, endowed with intellect and free will..The following properties are..marks of the divine nature: viz. absence of care and distraction and guile; goodness, wisdom, justice, freedom from all vice. So then, after He had placed man in communion with himself (for having made him for incorruption, He led him up through communion with Himself to incorruption)...yea, since He gave us to share in the better part, and we did not keep it secure, He shares in the inferior part (our nature)...making through Himself the way thither easy for us.....~St. John Damascene, De Fide Orthodoxa IV. 4.The most proper of all the names given to God is 'He that is'...For He keeps all being in His own embrace, like a sea of essence infinite and unseen...The second name of God is o theos..derived from [the verb] 'to run', because He courses through all things, or from [the verb] 'to burn', 'For God is a fire consuming all evil' (Dt. 4.24)....
~De Fide Orthodoxa I.9
God is ...the holy foundation of those who are tossed in unholiness...the way of those whose course is directed to Him and the hand stretched forth to guide them upwards...the shepherd of those who follow and are tended by Him; the radiance of those who are enlightened; the peace of those at discord...the good revelation of what is hidden....~De Fide Orthodoxa I. 12.