This week we celebrated the Solemnity of our beloved martyr
Meinrad, a ninth-century monk and hermit who offered hospitality to
the very men who would later beat and kill him. And he did this all
the whileknowingtheir evil plan, and for this he is known as the
"Martyr of Hospitality."
While reflecting on the life and death of our holy patron this
year, I couldn't help but think that we, too, share in his
martyrdom, although for most of us, it is not as violent or acutely
Each and every one of us participates in an "everyday
martyrdom," a daily dying to self that is part of Jesus' initial
call to "take up your cross daily," and perhaps even St. Benedict's
commission to "keep death daily before your eyes."
These daily deaths, these daily crosses, come in many forms, but
they are perhaps more acutely felt in the idiosyncrasies of those
closest to us. "Why does she talk with food in her mouth?", "Why
does he just stand around all day?" "Why did that guy just cut me
off in traffic?! Who does he think he is?!", "Why does he track
dirt on the carpet?"
The list goes on and on. And we can drive ourselves mad by
constantly making others' hang-ups a source of frustration and, in
doing so, forget to "sweep in front of our own front door."
When we are too hung up on the things that drive us nuts about
others, there is no room for love, which is our ultimate goal, to
love as Christ loved. Our daily martyrdom is to see past these
idiosyncrasies and learn to love despite them. But to do that, we
have to let go of our own preferences. We have to let go of our own
false-self that inhibits this love. This is true intimacy.
Michael Casey, in his book Strangers to the City,
writes that monastic life is like "death by a thousand tiny
pinpricks." While I haven't seen that written on any of the
tombstones in the graveyard, I can certainly attest to the truth of
this statement. Living closely with many others, and learning to
accept their shortcomings (and learning to accept your own
shortcomings!), can be very painful!
But it's those very people closest to us who both hurt us and,
perhaps more importantly, heal us. The pain of this everyday
martyrdom is ironically soothed sometimes by the very people who
have caused the hurt. This is intimacy in action.
While we certainly aren't all called to the explicit martyrdom
like that of St. Meinrad, we are all called to bear insults
patiently, to welcome our persecutors as Christ, and we have to do
it each and every day. And we, like St. Meinrad,knowwho our
persecutors are, but by following his example, we continue
welcoming them into our lives each and every day, because in them
we see Christ.