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The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle
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St. Augustine’s warning about celebrating martyrs’ feast days

René Goupil

Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. | Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 06/30/21

St. Augustine warned that if we celebrate the feast day of a martyr, we need to be willing to follow in their footsteps.

In the Catholic Church there are numerous feast days throughout the year that honor the lives of martyrs, holy men and women who died for the Christian faith.

These liturgical celebrations highlight the deaths of these individuals and how courageous they were in the face of persecution.

However, St. Augustine believed that we must not only honor these saints, but imitate them.

He wrote his ideas in a sermon on the feast of St. Lawrence.

Now we must follow in the footsteps of the martyrs by imitating them; otherwise our celebration of their feast days is meaningless.

st augustine

For St. Augustine, the key to imitating the martyrs was a love of eternal life, a desire to be in communion with God.

Let’s all keep this in mind, and actively imitate the martyrs, if we want the feast-days we celebrate to be of help to us. I have always given you the same advice…we must love eternal life, and we must count our present life as nothing. We must live well, and we must hope for what’s good. If we are bad we must change; when we have changed, we must be taught; when we’ve been taught, we need to persevere. “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22)

If we love God and want to be with him, we are willing to endure any torment in this life, even to the point of death.

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