On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory.

When we read this passage, we might think “winning the victory” means dying as a martyr.   But could it be referring to some other type of victory?   If we look at the life of St. Catherine Labouré (1806–1876), whose feast was last week, the answer would seem to be yes.   She is remembered as the saint who started the devotion to the Miraculous Medal in response to a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1830.   But we should also honor Catherine for something much more ordinary.

After Catherine’s visions, she told only her confessor—and she insisted on secrecy.   For forty-six years, no one in her convent knew that she was the one Mary had visited.   She continued her duties as a Daughter of Charity while her confessor implemented the Virgin Mary’s instructions.   It wasn’t until just before her death that Catherine told anyone—and that was only her superior!

Humbly and silently watching while the Miraculous Medal devotion spread worldwide, not taking credit for it:   that was a victory for Catherine.   Although Catherine wasn’t killed for her faith, she still “put to death” her own desires for fame or credit.   In doing so, she was a witness to God’s power, and that’s what martyrdom is all about.   Remember, the Greek word martyr means just that: witness.

You might feel as if you’re not doing anything as victorious as Catherine or any of the saints described in Scripture  reading (Revelation 15:2).   But if you’re doing your best to obey the Lord, you are!   As Pope Francis said recently, “Martyrdom of blood is not the only way to witness to Jesus Christ. . . . There is everyday martyrdom:  the martyrdom of honesty, the martyrdom of patience in raising children; the martyrdom of fidelity to love, when it is easier to take another, more hidden path” (Address, June 18, 2016).

Every time you make a choice for someone else over yourself, you have won a victory.   Every time you cooperate with God’s grace instead of giving in to temptation, you have won a victory.   You may not see it, but God is shaping your character.   He is making you a witness to his power.   And he is giving you the victory.

Word Among Us