Sunday, November 11, 2007
Saint Martin of Tours
Here was a man words cannot describe. Death could not defeat him nor toil dismay him. He was quite without a preference of his own; he neither feared to die nor refused to live. With eyes and hands always raised to heaven he never withdrew his unconquered spirit from prayer. It happened that some priests who had gathered at his bedside suggested that he should give his poor body some relief by lying on his other side. He answered: "Allow me, brothers, to look toward heaven rather than at the earth, so that my spirit may set on the right course when the time comes for me to go on my journey to the Lord." from a letter by Sulpicius Severus
Martin (316-397) discovered Christianity and became a catechumen when he was a young teen, although he was born to pagan parents. He joined the Roman army when he was about fifteen, and was a Calvary officer.
He was very kind to the other soldiers, and often gave food and clothing to the poor. When the other soldiers noticed this, they tested Martin by giving him a red cloak, telling him that if he loved his friends (the soldiers), then he wouldn't give this cloak away. Martin promised, and he thanked his friends for the warm cloak since the cold weather was approaching.
Until, one chilly day he came riding home on his horse, thankful for his cloak that kept him so warm. Suddenly, the horse immediately stopped, and Martin saw that there was a poor beggar freezing on the side of the road. Martin stopped and thought, "how could I help this poor one?" I have nothing to give him, except this cloak....but I promised....." Martin knew what to do now, he took his red cloak off. He shivered as the cold wind blew against him, and drew forth his sword. The beggar shrunk back a little bit, but with great relief he realized that this man on a horse was cutting the red cloak in half. Martin gave the freezing beggar one half and the other half he kept for his self. A half of the cloak didn't cover Martin from the icy blasts as much as the whole thing did, but at least he was able to help someone who was in need. He could see clearly that the beggar was truly grateful for at least half of the cloak.
The beggar thanked this kindhearted man, and Martin continued his journey back to his camp with thoughts of what his men would say when they only saw that he returned with only half of his cloak. Some Martin's friends thought that he was robbed, and others knew that he was to betray them anyway. That night Martin saw the same beggar by his bedside, still wearing the cloak. He was confused at first, thinking that he had forgotten something. But then, to his astonishment, he realized that this beggar was Christ! Martin was startled, and he heard the words, "Martin, what you do to others, you do to Me."
Martin maintained his life of giving to the poor, and he later became the Bishop of Tours.
picture from here