Dear confreres, this April 27, 2020, marks the first anniversary of the beatification of our brother martyr, Blessed Friar Carlos de Dios MURIAS, who was baptized in blood when he was only thirty-one. Therefore, it seems only natural that I should address you again, in this ongoing time of suffering, to invite you to draw strength from the martyrs, namely, those who understood about giving their lives, about being with God and his people and about going wherever obedience ordered them, without concern for their own lives.
Our Order enjoys the protection of many illustrious martyrs, starting with those from the dawn of Franciscanism to those from modern times. How could we ever forget our great Martyr of Charity, St. Maximilian M. KOLBE, who was a witness of love during one of history’s darkest times. There is also our Servant of God, Friar Placido CORTESE, who was similarly imprisoned in a Nazi bunker. He evangelized those with whom he shared misfortune by means of his faith, and even more, by the shedding of his blood! Then again, there are our two young Friar-Martyrs, Zbigniew STRZAŁKOWSKI and Michał TOMASZEK, who served in the Andes of Peru and had the courage to stand up to their persecutors and declare: “If they come, we will give witness to the truth!” The same can be said of Blessed Friar Francis ZIRANO who sacrificed his life; or young Veronica ANTAL, a secular Franciscan sister who was beatified two years ago as a Martyr to Chastity. There is also Brother Casimir CYPHER, a young North American friar whose cause is about to be opened. He served as a missionary in Honduras, where he gave his life for others, as Christ did.
Dear confreres, the sacrifice and example of these brother and sister martyrs invites us to internalize the words of the Apostle to the Gentiles: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35, 37-39).
In these difficult times, we must always respond as the martyrs did, with faith, fidelity, perseverance, and with the Gospel joy of offering ourselves as a gift.
Friar Carlos A. TROVARELLI, Minister General