French Priest Slained: Fr. Jacques Hamel and the Crown of Martyrdom

Father Jacques Hamel Beheaded by ISIS Militants During Mass

Fr. Jacques Hamel Had a Target on His Back

By Fr. Christopher Pietraszko:

Any priest has a target on his back the moment he is ordained. This target is present for both spiritual and political reasons. We notice that in various cultures one of the first laws decreed by a fascist-like state is to prohibit priests from publically wearing any clerical attire. This is because the priest is a powerful symbol to the people of the conscience that ought to be directed towards faith in God. The visible priest in his own subtle way of witnessing walks the streets reminding people that there is a higher authority than the state, and if it ever contradicts that higher authority, it is worth contradicting. Therefore, fascist states who predicate their ideology of placing themselves above all other authorities naturally enter into a conflict with the priest.

Spiritually, priests are also under attack because if one priest’s pastoral vision and spirituality can be corrupted so can the many that follow him. Therefore Powers and Principalities (fallen angels) seek to attack Christ’s priests in order to mislead masses of people.

With the death of a Father Jacques Hamel in the face of Islamic Terrorism we should call to mind another truth – that priests enter into this ministry with a willingness to be a target. Although we might look at a martyrdom as a tragedy, which it certainly is, we also look at it as a cross that a saint bore victoriously. To be selected for the crown of martyrdom is no easy task, but it is something that every Christian is called to be willing to do, and first amongst them, the Christian-leadership.

Fr. Jacques Hamel laid down his life

With that in mind, we must not look at this 84 year old French-priest as a vulnerable person – although he was – but rather as a man who was selected by God to courageously lay down his life for love of Christ. Not for an ideology, not for politics, but out of reciprocity for the Sacrifice of Christ, and to unite it to the Cross out of love and sacrifice for those whom he served. A priest’s martyrdom is one way in which a priest has in fact fulfilled his own vocation – and therefore, while his death must be mourned, his virtue must be celebrated. How else do we also not rip the rug from under the feet of our persecutors than by triumphing at a saints death with which they just helped make.

Triumph in heaven Priest of God.

God have Mercy on Fr. Jacques Hamel.

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