Observed as a Commemoration
The lives and deaths of many of the early martyrs are shrouded in mystery but we have a full eyewitness account of the suffering and death of Saint Felicity and Saint Perpetua whom we honour today. Both were pagans who converted to Christianity – they were condemned to be mauled by lions in the arena at Carthage in North Africa and then beheaded. You probably know that these two saints are associated with the Order of Preachers. When Saint Thomas Aquinas was inserted into the Roman Calendar his feast fell on the same day as these two martyrs. There was some movement of both feast days when the Tridentine calendar was established by the Dominican Pope Saint Pius V, but in 1969 Pope Paul VI restored the date of their feast to 7th March while Saint Thomas Aquinas was moved to 28th January. We honour Saint Felicity and Saint Perpetua for their courage in witnessing to Christ and for giving us an example to follow in our own lives of witness.
It’s all about God. How easy it can be to forget that. Some people go through Lent more concerned about fasting than about giving glory to God. But, of course, Lent isn’t just about getting holier for the sake of getting holier, or succeeding at our fast so that we have a sense of accomplishment at Easter. Rather, it’s about seeking to give God glory in all that we do as we await his Second Coming. This is a daunting task, and we may well ask ourselves how can sinful and selfish people like us possibly glorify the eternal God? Well, today’s first reading may be able to help us.
The prophet reminds us that God rejoices over and cares for his people. He also emphasizes God’s power in restoring Israel. Why should we find this encouraging? Well, because as we look at the daunting task of glorifying God this Lent, we can have the confidence that his Spirit is at work empowering us, just as he was with the Israelites so long ago. And not only that, God will reward us and pour out immense blessings upon us as we seek to serve and love him. God not only empowers us to live for him, he even rewards us for doing the very thing he has empowered us to do in the first place.
So let’s continue striving to bring glory to God this Lent. Let’s prepare our hearts to receive all of the grace that he wants to pour out on us. When Our Lord returns at the Second Coming, he will bless us beyond what we can even imagine. And so we must get ready for that day. We must get rid of every obstacle and stumbling block that might keep us from receiving everything that God wants to give us. Lent affords us the time and space to be practical about this. Whatever we do, we must hold fast to the goal of bringing glory to God. Because, as I said at the beginning: it’s all about God.