Brethren, Peace and Good to all of you in Jesus’ Name.
I remember reading the story about the martyr St. Tarcisius when I was younger and it enthralled me. If you don’t know the story, here it is:
Tarcisius was a twelve-year-old acolyte during one of the fierce Roman persecutions of the third century, probably during that of Valerian. Each day, from a secret meeting place in the catacombs where Christians gathered for Mass, a deacon would be sent to the prisons to carry the Eucharist to those Christians condemned to die. At one point, there was no deacon to send and so St. Tarcisius, an acolyte, was sent carrying the "Holy Mysteries" to those in prison. On the way, he was stopped by boys his own age who were not Christians but knew him as a playmate and lover of games. He was asked to join their games, but this time he refused and the crowd of boys noticed that he was carrying something. Somehow, he was also recognized as a Christian, and the small gang of boys, anxious to view the Christian "Mysteries," became a mob and turned upon Tarcisius with fury. He went down under the blows, and it is believed that a fellow Christian drove off the mob and rescued the young acolyte. The mangled body of Tarcisius was carried back to the catacombs, but the boy died on the way from his injuries. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Callistus, and his relics are claimed by the church of San Silvestro in Capite. (Source)
It occurs to me that today is not that different from the day of St. Tarcisius. Look around you and you’ll see a rotten culture in decay. The Christian faith is mocked and Christians – specially Catholic Christians – are sidelined and forced into silence by ridicule and derision. Yet, we still participate in society and play along with our neighbors, though many are de facto pagans or atheists. What would it take for our playmates to become our acerbic enemies if, like St. Tarcisius, we make too much of a public display of our faith?
Things are not so dire that our pagan or atheist playmates would turn against us and kill us if we’re carrying the Eucharist to the sick and the infirm. Still, the way things are going, I cannot rule it out for the future.
May St. Tarcisius in glory pray for all those daring to take Jesus to others.