When I was in college, evangelical students were fond of asking their fellow students, "If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Oddly, the evangelical answer to their own question often seemed to have more to do with belief ("I acknowledge Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior") than with action (say, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy). How can you have evidence of faith unless that faith is reflected in action?
But the question itself is a good one, and all the more relevant in an age when Christians are once more being persecuted for their beliefs--even here in the United States, and even through government actions, such as the Obama administration's contraception mandate. Do we have the strength of our convictions? Would we be willing to suffer martyrdom to witness to the Gospel of Christ?
Saint Paul, a persecutor of Christians before his own conversion, did just that. And so this week, I have chosen a Prayer to Saint Paul for Perseverance as our novena of the week. As we pray it over the next nine days, let's take this opportunity to examine our own willingness to suffer for Christ's sake.