With One’s Life on the Line: Martyrdom and Christian Morality
In acting, we always experience ourselves as loving, i.e., we find that with every action, we will some good to someone, ourselves or others. In willing a good to someone, i.e., in choosing to act on his or her behalf, we testify to our love for him or her. Our actions are always symbolic. For good or ill, they are symbols of the love we bear. Through them, we either express or betray our love. Martyrs witness to this love to the end. They choose to die rather than to act in a way that would betray the one they love. Therefore, martyrdom is “the high point of the witness to moral truth” (Veritatis splendor n. 93) as here is also the fullness of love: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).