The feast days of martyrs reminds us that it’s very important for us to build our goals in life on something solid. So many people spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find out it was leaning against the wrong wall. Our faith rests on the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. If we don’t believe that Our Lord rose from the dead, then our ladder is leaning on thin air and we are in for a real surprise if and when we reach the top. Belief in Our Lord’s resurrection and the promise of eternal life impelled so many saints to endure hardships and even martyrdom. The martyrs were convinced that their ladders were leaning against solid walls.
Today we honour the memory of a German Carmelite nun Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: many people will remember her as the notable philosopher Edith Stein, a convert from Judaism who witnessed to Christ in the gas chamber at the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Pope John Paul II canonised Sister Teresa Benedicta in 1998 and proclaimed her as one of the Patrons of Europe. You can be sure that Saint Teresa and indeed all the martyrs firmly believed in resurrection from the dead. They weren’t trading life for death, they firmly believed in a life beyond this life. In our country today we may not suffer outright martyrdom for our faith, but we are often challenged by current values and morals to be counter-cultural. Our ladder is leaning on a quite different wall than that of many of our fellow citizens.
And so, like any good builder or washer of windows, before we continue our climb, we need to check our ladder and we need to check the wall it’s leaning against. Both have to be solid and right to be worth the effort. The wall is Christ and his promise of eternal life. The ladder is faith. The rungs of the ladder are the steps of holiness. Let us keep climbing this ladder together.
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us.