We celebrate the martyr Saint Fidelis today. His religious name comes from Revelation 2:10: "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you might be tested, and you shall be afflicted for ten days. Be faithful [fidelis] even unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."
The faithfulness of Christian love must straddle life and death, must bring life where there was only death before.
Saint Fidelis was a Capuchin follower of Saint Francis of Assisi, and so his identity was with the unsuccessful, those who did not occupy the high places of the world. From the perspective of the lowly and wretched of the earth, Saint Fidelis was able to be faithful to the faith, by which alone the power-games of the world are overcome. Before becoming a priest, he was a lawyer. He left the pathways of secular power to care for those on the outside of worldly success.
The matins reading for today's feast records words from the last sermon Saint Fidelis gave before being beaten to death:
"What made the holy apostles and martyrs endure fierce agony and bitter torments, except faith, and especially faith in the resurrection?
"What is it that today makes true followers of Christ cast luxuries aside, leave pleasures behind, and endure difficulties and pain? It is living faith 'that expresses itself through love.' It is this that makes us put aside the goods of the present in the hope of future goods. It is because of faith that we exchange the present for the future."
When I was secure in the world, I would have suspected this sentiment of otherworldliness. Of course, Saint Fidelis is simply correct. There is no place for love in this world. Faith must create life where there is otherwise only death.