• Sarah Raad


“You are my God and my All.” (Thirty Franciscan Martyrs of Siroki Brijeg).

Thirty Franciscan Martyrs of Siroki Brijeg

The other day I read the story of the Thirty Franciscan Martyrs of Siroki Brijeg.

During the 1940s when Communism spread to Bosnia and Herzegovina religious organisations were significantly impacted. On 7th February 1945 when Communist soldiers invaded the Franciscan Monastery in Siroki Brijeg they told the friars there… “God is dead, there is no Pope, no Church, no need of you.” The Franciscans were told to take off their habits and to renounce their faith. The men refused. The soldiers threw the crucifix onto the floor. The friars knelt down and embraced that Cross and when the soldiers commanded them to choose life or death, the thirty Franciscans addressed the crucifix saying… “You are my God and my All.” All of those friars were killed, and their bodies burned…

They are now called the Thirty Franciscan Martyrs of Siroki Brijeg.

I have been reflecting very much on this great sacrifice of these martyrs – for they gave their lives for God. If we consider the perspective of our secular world, we will think such a sacrifice was totally foolish. After all, the deaths of those thirty men did not prevent the decimation of the Church under Communism. Their deaths did appear to lead to triumph.

And yet… The question arises, were those deaths foolish? And what was the point of that sacrifice?

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face said, “Jesus’ love for you can be understood only by Jesus!... Jesus has done foolish things for you.... Let you do foolish things for Jesus .... Love is repaid by love alone, and the wounds of love are healed only by love.”

For the Saints understood the words of the Christian writer C.S. Lewis who said, “You may forget that at every moment you are totally dependent on God.”

For we ARE dependent upon God. But the miracle is that God – in His infinite HUMILITY – MADE Himself dependent upon others.

Scott Hahn in his book, “Hail Mary” writes…

“Christ’s work is our redemption, which He shared in an unparalleled way with Mary. – to whom God entrusted such tasks as feeding His Son with her own milk, singing Him to sleep, and accompanying Him all the way to the way of the Cross where she gave a sorrowful yes to His self-offering. In short, the Father willed that His Son’s entire existence as a Man, so to speak, would hinge on the ongoing consent of Mary.”

Because God understands the Communion of Saints and the Forgiveness of Sins… And God Himself is a RELATIONSHIP through the Most Holy Trinity, He understands the importance of Dependence. He models it for us, though He – BEING PERFECTLY COMPLETE in His own PERFECTION – had no need to! He shows us what we must do to please Him because He, Himself – through the Divine Son – made Himself DEPENDENT upon His Mother.

And then – at the end – as He was dying – Christ gave His Mother to us as well… So that we could follow the example He set and that we too could depend upon her…

And He did that – showing us perfect dependence – while FORGIVING us our sins, proving to us that we could trust Him perfectly and be entirely DEPENDENT on Him!

In the words Scott Hahn in his book, “Lord Have Mercy”… “Forgiveness is a great gift, but it’s a penultimate gift. It’s intended to prepare us for something still greater. Christians are saved not only from sin but for Divine Sonship in Christ.”

And it is on this “Sonship” that I depend – because there is nothing more important than this and I understand the beauty of the words of the Thirty Franciscan Martyrs of Siroki Brijeg…

For He is “my God and my All.”… And it is on Him that I depend…

For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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