It would seem safe to say from all the evidence provided above that martyrdom could be considered a sacrament of the Church. This paper has tried to show through the use of Scripture, reason, and the testimony of the Church that martyrdom can be considered a type of sacrament. It has also shown that martyrdom did have a liturgy, although not a set one. However, no one in the early church called martyrdom a sacrament, and future generations did not promote it to the ranks of sacrament as they did other practices of the Church. So what is martyrdom? Martyrdom can be described as a sacramental, since it is a means of preparing one for a sacrament or grace. It might be difficult to think of martyrdom as being in the same category as praying with an icon or using holy water, because it is a much greater act of devotion than these actions. There might be hope for martyrdom as a sacrament, however, because Jesus modeled martyrdom in his own passion and death. The sacraments are all taken from the actions of Jesus, such as breaking the bread and blessing wine, forgiving sins, and undergoing baptism. Obviously not everyone is called to martyrdom, just as not all are called to be clergy or married. The Church would not want to encourage people to seek out martyrdom, which became a problem in the early Church. The martyrs are special, and have been considered blessed and important since St. Stephen gave up his life while professing his belief in Christ. In these various ways it is obvious that the martyrs did receive a special grace from Christ in their death making martyrdom and themselves sacraments. It is important for churches to see martyrdom as a sacrament because it would help to encourage present day and future martyrs. It is also a way of remembering those who were martyred in the past. The early Church did not have the need to make martyrdom a sacrament because they saw and appreciated the work of the martyrs in their daily lives. Most people today do not have the examples of the martyrs and do not appreciate the work that they do in the world. If martyrdom were considered a sacrament, it might cause these people to think about martyrdom more and be grateful for the imitation, sacrifice, battle, and help the martyrs offer the universal church.
Search the Blog