“We will see each other in Heaven. Viva Cristo Rey!”– St. José Sanchez del Río
The protective parent in me doesn’t want to think about the idea of our children being martyrs. But then I can’t help but think about the glorious witness of the young martyrs our Church has produced – St. Maria Goretti, St. Agnes, St. Tarcisius, St. Philomena, St. Pancras, St. Lucy, St. Dymphna, Bl. Laura Vicuna, the Holy Innocents who died in Jesus’ place under Herod’s rule, and so many young martyrs – and these are all in addition to the non-martyred young saints of the Church!
At age fourteen, St. Kizito was the youngest of the Ugandan Martyrs killed by the king of Buganda. Kizito, along with St. Charles Lwanga and companions, served as pages for the king, who was a pedophile. The head pages did their best to protect the young boys from the advances of the king, but the king eventually sentenced all of them to death.
On their way to execution, Kizito and the others joyfully sang together. Kizito’s last reported words were, “Goodbye, my friends. We are on the right path.” Those who witnessed the martyrs’ deaths were so inspired that some chose to be baptized.
Known as Joselito, St. José Sánchez del Río was a flagbearer for the Cristero movement in Mexico during the Cristero War. When his brothers joined the rebels, Joselito’s mother tried to stop him from joining too, but he insisted that he wanted to give his life for Christ.
Joselito was captured by government troops, who pressured to him to renounce his Catholic Faith. He refused. They forced him to watch the hanging of another Cristero, but it didn’t break Joselito’s resolve. He encouraged his comrade. Some of his last words were, “We will see each other in Heaven. Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long live Christ the King!)
Since they were unable to scare Joselito into apostasy, they cut the bottoms of his feet and forced him on a death march, stabbing him with a machete. He continued to pray the Rosary, prayed for his persecutors, and sang hymns of praise. They shot him, and he died just shy of his fifteenth birthday.
It is less likely that our children will end up being killed for their Faith and more likely that they will face intense persecution for their Faith. They will be pressured by their friends to commit sin and reject the Faith. They will be pressured by authorities to commit sin and reject the Faith. They will be pressured by the culture to commit sin and reject the faith.
As parents, we must pray unceasingly for protection for our children. We must also pray for courage and steadfast faith in times of trouble. Our children will face hardships, and we will not always be there to protect them. Let us entrust our children to the Blessed Mother and pray that they will be heroically virtuous like Kizito and Joselito! Know that we are praying for your children too.
Let us pray:
St. Kizito and St. José Sánchez del Río, you were both
faithful to God, even when faced with death.
Help me to be brave, even when it’s hard.
Help me to be faithful, even when I’m tempted.
Help me to stay on the right path, even
when others go down different paths.
Be my friends and stay with me when I feel alone.
Pray for me, so I can be happy in Heaven forever,
like you. Amen.
And a shorter prayer you can teach your children:
St. Kizito and St. José Sánchez del Río, help me to be brave,
even when it’s hard. Amen.
This article is excerpted from “The Prayer Book for Tired Parents: Practical Ways to Grow in Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven” (c) 2022 David and Debbie Cowden. Please only reproduce with permission.