He was only ten years old, a boy normal and healthy, a beautiful child, raised in a good home, the son of a senator. His peaceful life would radically be interrupted by a judge who would find him guilty of criminal charges…
He was only ten years old, a boy normal and healthy, a beautiful child, raised in a good home, the son of a senator. His peaceful life would radically be interrupted by a judge who would find him guilty of criminal charges. Even though the boy’s father was a senator and the child was only ten years old, nothing could be done because the government had railroaded its verdict. However; a short time later, the boy stood in the midst of a crowd at a stadium for a day of amusement. Standing in the stadium, he thought back three days before as he stood before the judge who had him arrested. He had confounded the judge by his silence because the boy knew full well that he had done no wrong. Meanwhile, the judge became so angry that he unjustly threw the adolescent in a jail cell where those who were in the prison beat him unmercifully. Yet the boy thought of the last three days and he knew Our Lady had placed Her mantle over him and protected him. His faith had given him the strength to persevere in great trials. His little daily practices, denials, and sacrifices had given him the grace to withstand the big trials.
We’ve learned through Our Lady Queen of Peace of Medjugorje’s messages that the small consistent deeds are the hardest, but once formed into the spiritual life, they will enable us to do the big things. Without the small, we will not be able to do the big. For us at Caritas, Our Lady of Medjugorje’s messages have given us a great hunger to form small spiritual habits for our growth as well as our spiritual strength, so that when the big things come along, we will have gained the perseverance necessary to withstand severe trials. Our practice in the Caritas community is to try and please Our Lady by being in a continual state of prayer. We do this by having a prayer on our lips or in our thoughts continually all day long. Even when we awaken slightly in the middle of the night, we try and train ourselves to remember to say the prayer until we fall back to sleep. We usually say one prayer constantly for a whole month and change to another prayer the next month. The following are three separate prayers (one per month) used regularly by us at Caritas – one was written by a saint and two were originated in our community. We have found them to be a source of nourishment.
First month: Jesus, deliver my soul from the slavery of its passions.
Second month: Jesus, inflame my will to be that of the Father’s and to carry it out perfectly.
Third month: Oh, my Beloved, who art also my God, make my heart a flame of pure love for Thee.
Sir Thomas Moore, with a priest, was arrested for not signing papers, by the order of the king, relating to the validation of the king’s adulterous marriage. After several weary, hungry, and cold months in prison, the priest broke down and signed. However, St. Thomas, in his matter of conscience, persevered, never caved in, and was beheaded. His strength to do the big was attributed to his small daily practice of wearing an annoying piece of hair shirt under his regular shirt.
The above daily prayers are in the same spirit of a daily exercise to grow in perseverance for the time when great things may be demanded of us. In Medjugorje, Our Lady has said She is about to bring us into a new time when we will know God more. History has shown us that those times, when man came to know God more, were when he was persecuted the most. Many signs indicate such a time may be coming for Christians. Now is the time to decide for God. A continual practice of little prayers may be a good place to start.
Virtuous practices, such as these, enabled the ten year old to persevere because his standing in the stadium for a day of festivities was not the end of his troubles. The morning after the first day, he was taken from prison and heralded before the judge. It was the beginning of the second day of perseverance. It was December, 284 AD. The boy, Marninus, refused to deny Christ and was tied to a rack to be ripped apart. Yet, he remained silent as the executioner began to stretch the rack. Suddenly, lightning struck the machine, breaking it into a thousand pieces, and knocked down all those around it. The little ten year Marninus was left untied and stood pointing to Heaven with one arm and pointing to the machine with the other. Rather than convert, his persecutors became more enraged. They heated up a cauldron, glowing red hot and placed him in it where he was left for the entire second night. The next morning, rather than finding ashes, they opened the oven to find him in an attitude of prayer, singing hymns.
For the festive Romans, he was now to be brought to the stadium to be fed to the beasts. The scene in the Coliseum of Rome was extraordinary. A lion was released first. Marninus was trembling but firm in his resolve. The lion ran toward him. The crowd knew what to expect and watched intensely as the great lion ran to attack. Just before getting to him, the lion suddenly lay down before the child, as if to revere him before killing him. The surprised crowd watched as the lion arose, bringing his great paws, used for killing, down upon both shoulders of little Marninus, resting them there. The lion began to lick the boy’s face. A leopard was then let out. It reclined at Marninus’ feet and began to lick them; then a female leopard and tiger were let loose, but they all competed with each other to show their respect. The keepers tried to irritate them but the animals turned on them. Occasionally, the lion went over to where the wicked judge sat, looked up, and growled threateningly, while the crowd screamed “Freedom. What else is there but to believe?” While Marninus petted the lions, the animals caressed the little Christian. The judge was fearful that the sympathy of the crowd toward the Christian would erupt in indignation toward himself, and he ordered the guards and keepers to remove Marninus. They refused, knowing they would be torn to shreds for interfering with the extraordinary child. They had to rely on the child to lead the animals back to their dens. They then seized him and carried him nearby to a pagan god whose idol was raised in the vicinity. Thousands poured out of the Coliseum, taking up every available square foot of space. Marninus was ordered to sacrifice to the gods. He knelt down and many thought he finally caved in. Everyone became breathless and still as they watched the proud spirit of the Christian being subdued. However, little Marninus was praying to his God who answered immediately with a bolt of lightning, shattering the idol to pieces. Many scattered in terror; others fell to the ground; and many cried out, “Great is the God of the Christians.” Many were converted. Marninus was taken away and finally God allowed him his reward. He was beheaded December 26, 284 AD.
Marninus became a saint and his remains are buried in a beautiful little church, dedicated to Our Lady, near the Coliseum. Our Lady of Medjugorje’s messages keep telling us today, now is the time of grace, now is the time of preparation. Will we be strong enough? Who is Our Lady speaking to when She keeps telling us, “Decide for God”? We must ask ourselves how much we are holding back. It is we who have been reading Her messages to whom She keeps saying, “Decide for God”, is it not? We must without reserve decide for God and be willing to abandon all our miserable interests. Our Lady is building an ark. It is Medjugorje. It is our protection. Little denials, sacrifices, and prayers are the basis and foundation to do what St. Marninus or St. Thomas Moore did. Watching the ark float away is not the best time to decide for God. Decide for God today. Start with the small.
In the love of the Two Hearts,