December 1: St. Edmund Campion
Edmund lived in the sixteenth century. He was a very popular young English student who was a great speaker. In fact, Edmund was chosen to deliver a welcoming speech to Queen Elizabeth when she visited his college. A group of his fellow students were attracted by his happy nature and his many talents. They made him their leader. Even the queen and her chief ministers were fond of this attractive young man.
But Edmund was troubled about his religion. He kept thinking that the Catholic Church might be the only true Church. He did not hide his feelings. Therefore, the government, which was persecuting Catholics, became very suspicious of him. Edmund knew that he would lose the queen's favor and all his chances for a great career if he chose to become a Catholic. The young man prayed and reached his decision. He would become a Catholic anyway.
After he had escaped from England, Edmund studied to become a priest. He entered the Society of Jesus. When the Holy Father decided to send some Jesuits to England, Father Campion was one of the first to go. The night before he left, one of his fellow priests felt urged to write over his doorway: "Father Edmund Campion, martyr." Although he knew what danger faced him, the holy priest set out cheerfully. In fact, he had many a laugh because of his disguise as a jewel merchant. In England he preached with great success to Catholics who had to meet with him in secret. Spies of the queen's men were everywhere trying to catch him. He wrote: "I won't escape their hands much longer. Sometimes I read letters that say 'Campion has been caught'!" It was a traitor who finally brought about the Jesuit's capture. Edmund was visited in jail by the government officials who had been so fond of him. It seems that even Queen Elizabeth came. But none of their threats or promises could make him give up the Catholic faith. Nor could tortures break him. In spite of all his sufferings, he still defended himself and his fellow priests in such a marvelous manner that no one could answer him. Yet the enemies of the Church condemned him anyway. Before he was put to death, St. Edmund forgave the man who had betrayed him. He even helped save the man's life. St. Edmund Campion died in 1581. He was about forty-one years old.
Edmund was able to extend forgiveness even when it seemed impossible. Is there an area of my life that needs the healing grace of forgiveness?