October 6 is the feast day of Saint Faith of Agen. Few people are aware that there is actually a saint named “Faith” in the martyrologies of the Church. I took the occasion of her feast day to write about my friendship with the late Faith Abbott McFadden, who was senior editor of The Human Life Review until her death in 2011. The good folks at Review posted my reminiscences on their blog today.
Faith was a champion of the fight for life, and she was a huge influence on me. She and I had a 20 year correspondence in which we shared our observations on the changing culture and life in general. Today’s struggle to create a culture that respects and values human life was central to Faith’s work.
We both understood that to openly identify as pro-life is an act that will get you socially rejected in most social and academic circles. And to persist in doing so – to refuse to trade in the Truth for the shiny objects of worldly “rewards” no matter the price — is where true martyrdom begins. Martyrs who hold that fast to the Faith are willing to shed blood if it comes to that. That’s the story of Saint Faith of Agen. Though mention of that saint never came up in our correspondence — I only discovered Saint Faith recently — today I seek to link the devotions of both women.
And so I offer this excerpt from the Review’s blog on the feast day of Saint Faith:
Saint Faith’s refusal to renounce Christ and sacrifice to pagan gods got her tortured and killed. And that’s what true martyrdom is about, really: refusing to bow down to idolatry under pain of punishment, and even death. It means holding fast to Faith.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and an old French adage rings truer than ever: “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.” My favorite translation of that is this: “The more things ‘change,’ the more you get same old, same old, same old.” Indeed, as we witness the lightening erosion of religious liberty in today’s transformed America, we are increasingly facing the same choice as Saint Faith and all the saints: true worship or idolatry? God or mammon?
Such are the things my friend Faith and I reflected on. And I can hear Faith adding a stoic “Natch” to all of the above. I believe her outreach to me — and to everyone — was built on her understanding that God leads us to do his work through friendship, through one-on-one personal relationships, influencing the lives of others as well as our own lives.
I still fall short whenever I try to express the impact her letters had—and continue to have—on my life. And why wouldn’t I fall short? Why wouldn’t anyone who ponders the influence of another person on their life fall short in sizing it up?
I think the answer lies in the eternal mystery of love and the limitless trajectories a life can take. It lies in the fact that every human life is an entire universe of God’s making. There is just no way that the effect of one life upon another can be measured or predicted.