Christian Martyrdom

February 18, 2015

     Last year my first Wednesday night readings as First Reader occurred on Ash Wednesday, so my subject was “Beauty for Ashes.”  This year we have another solemn topic in “Christian Martyrdom.”
     Mary Baker Eddy wrote quite a bit about this topic, and the readings from Science and Health begin with this quote attributed to Tertullian, a 2nd century author who lived in northern Africa and who is considered one of the fathers of the early Christian church. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”  (SH 37 next to the marginal note “Martyrs inevitable”)  Mrs. Eddy also references Savonarola, an Italian friar from the late 1400s. (SH 40)  There is a wonderful series called “Mary Baker Eddy Mentions Them,” and so I enjoyed listening to their short and sweet summary of Savonarola’s life. (This link is included on the “Readings and Research” page.)
     In preparing these readings, I was impressed by how much Stephen’s speech influenced Saul/Paul, even to the point of Stephen’s final words “Lay not this sin to their charge,” being repeated by Paul at the end of his life. One of the Christian Science Journal articles about Stephen quotes Augustine, that “the church owes Paul to the prayer of Stephen,” and so a Journal article about Stephen is also included on the readings page.
     On the day after the news that another US hostage had been executed, John Yemma, of The Christian Science Monitor, wrote an editorial quoting part of a letter received by the parents:
 “I have come to a place in my experience,” Kayla Mueller wrote, “where, in every sense of the word, I have surrendered myself to our creator b/c literally there was no one else…. + by God + by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall. I have been shown in darkness, light + have learned that even in prison, one can be free.”