Saint Alexander Briant, Martyr

Isaiah 26:1-6; Psalm 117(118):1,8-9,19-21,25-27; Matthew 7:21,24-27

"Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven."

We have some exemplars of this point in our lives today - that rather excellent speech to COP26 by the young but strong voice 'green economy, blah blah blah, build back better, blah blah blah' of Greta Thunburg comes to mind!.

There is no merit in simply battering God's ears with prayers - we do need to do something. Famously, we have been told "preach constantly, only if necessary, use words" (St Francis of Assisi). Advent is a good time to do something - as we plan our gifts and celebrations, we can and should ensure that our purchases come from sources where the money spent will do some good. We should of course be generous in giving to those in need in our lives and our community. And we should also give generously of our time praying for others.

What are you planning to do today for others, this Advent?

Alexander Briant (or Bryant) was born in Somerset (1556), and entered Hart Hall, Oxford (now Hertford College), at an early age. While there, he became a pupil of Father Robert Parsons which lead to his conversion to the Catholic Church. Having left the university he entered the seminary at Douai, and was ordained priest in 1578. He was assigned to the English mission in August of the following year to work as a priest in his own county of Somerset. After working only briefly he was arrested in April 1581 by a group who were searching for Father Parsons. After spending some time in Counter Prison, London, he was taken to the Tower where he was subjected to tortures that, even in Elizabethan England, stand out for their viciousness. The rack master admitted that Briant was “racked more than any of the rest,” and following a public outcry was imprisoned for a few days for cruelty. With six other priests Briant was arraigned, on November 16, 1581, on the charge of high treason, and condemned to death. In a letter to the Jesuit Fathers in England written from prison he says that he felt no pain during the various tortures he underwent, and adds: “Whether this that I say be miraculous or no, God knoweth, but true it is.” He also asked that he might become a Jesuit, having vowed to offer himself should he be released. Accordingly he is numbered among the martyrs of the Society. He was scarcely more than twenty-five years old on 1 December, the day of his martyrdom. He suffered with Edmund Campion and Ralph Sherwin.

Posted in Daily Reflection.