St Martin of Tours

 

To use a modern term, Martin grew up as a “military brat.” His dad was in the Roman imperial army, and so from a young age he was exposed to the military lifestyle. In his late teens, he became a Christian, contrary to his parent’s desire, although he wasn’t baptized yet. He was also forced to enter the military because of his father. However, his unit was more of a ceremonial unit and did not face much combat.

His desire was to be a man of peace, a monk. This desire influenced his choices while in the military, even to the point of not allowing his servant to wait on him, but rather cleaning his own servant’s boots. Once, riding on his horse through modern day France, he encountered a beggar. The only clothes he had were those he was wearing, so he took the heavy officers cloak and cut it in half for the beggar. Many non-Christians laughed at such a ridiculous gesture of generosity, but later on Martin had a vision and saw Christ wearing the cloak and telling the angels, “See, this is the cloak that Martin, yet a catechumen, gave me.”  Martin immediately went to receive baptism.

Soon after, he became friends with St. Hiliary, who mentored him, and began giving retreats in the wilderness. As his monastery and preaching ministry grew, Martin received pressure from those who did not believe. They even dressed up as old Roman gods and at night tried to scare him. Martin was not shaken and continued to preach the faith and live a life of virtue, and because of this he won many converts.

Word got out on his holiness, and many sought him for counsel and help. He desired to live a life of quiet prayer, but the people rose up and made him a bishop. As a bishop he was determined to continue living his simple life, so he lived outside of town in a log cabin. When people visited, he would wash the guests' hands and clean their feet, a job done by slaves not bishops!

He lived with an intense love for the poor and asked that when he died (at age 80) he would be buried in the cemetery for the poor. One of the great mystical stories of St. Martin involves the devil dressing in wealthy robs and fine gems and telling Martin he was Jesus and he should worship him. Martin responded, “Where are your nails marks? Where is the wound in your side? When I see the marks of the passion then I will adore Him.” St. Martin knew Jesus would not come in riches but in suffering and poverty.

So what about us? St. Martin of Tours knew something very simple and very profound: we don’t have to be talented or powerful to be great, but we need to love Jesus. In this rat race of a world, we tend to think that the most important people in a room are the higher ups: the president of a corporation, the bishop of a diocese, or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  But Jesus came and taught us that he is in the least, the lowest place, the outcast, the poor, the victim, the loser (to use a modern term). St. Martin was transformed by grace enough to be open to however Jesus was going to look in a given situation. So do we want to find Jesus in our life? Look to who is the least or the one who most repulses us or the one we think is insignificant, there He is! This does not mean the person stops annoying us, but it means we are called to do only good by them, never bad. We are to even seek them out to give Jesus our love. This is hard and so we beg…

St. Martin of Tours, pray for us!

 

Prayers

 

St. Martin's Prayer

Lord, if your people still have need of my services, I will not avoid the toil. Your will be done. I have fought the good fight long enough. Yet if you bid me continue to hold the battle line in defense of your camp, I will never beg to be excused from failing strength. I will do the work you entrust to me. While you command, I will fight beneath your banner.

 


Most glorious Martin de Porres,
whose burning charity embraced not only the needy brethren,
but also the very animals of the field,
splendid example of charity,
we hail thee and invoke thee!
From that high throne which thou dost occupy,
deign to listen to the supplications of thy needy brethren that,
by imitating thy virtues,
we may live contented in that state in which God has placed us
and carrying with strength and courage our cross,
we may follow in the footsteps of Our Blessed Redeemer
and His most afflicted Mother,
that at last we may reach the Kingdom of Heaven
through the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Amen.