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Oliver Plunkett’s sacrifice

For the suffering undergone by Oliver Plunkett is another expression of the triumph and victory of Christ’s grace. Like his Master, Oliver Plunkett surrendered his life willingly in sacrifice (Cfr. Is. 53:7; Io. 10, 17). He laid it down out of love, and thereby freely associated himself in an intimate manner with the sufferings of Christ. Indeed, his dying words were: “Into thy hands, o Lord, I commend my spirit. Lord Jesus, receive my soul». The merits of the Lord’s Passion, the power of his Cross, and the dynamism of his Resurrection are active and made manifest in the life of his Saint. We praise God-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-who gave the glorious gift of supernatural faith to Oliver Plunkett-a faith so strong that it filled him with the fortitude and courage necessary to face martyrdom with serenity, with joy and with forgiveness. Being put to death for the profession of his Catholic Faith, he was, in the expression of our predecessor Benedict XV, crowned with «martyrdom for the faith” (Cfr. Apostolic Brief of Beatification, 23 May 1920: AAS 12, 1920, p. 238).

And after the example of the King of Martyrs, there was no rancour in his heart. Moreover, he sealed by his death the same message and ministry of reconciliation (Cfr. 2 Cor. 5:18-20) that he had preached and performed during his life. In his pastoral activities, his exhortation had been one of pardon and peace. With men of violence he was indeed the advocate of justice and the friend of the oppressed, but he would not compromise with truth or condone violence: he would not substitute another gospel for the Gospel of peace. And his witness is alive today in the Church, as he insists with theApostle Peter: “Never pay back one wrong with another» (1 Petr. 3:9). O what a model of reconciliation: a sure guide for our day! Oliver Plunkett had understood with Saint Paul that «it was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). From Jesus himself he had learned to pray for his persecutors (Cfr. Matth. 5:44) and with Jesus he could say: “Father, forgive them” (Luk. 23:31).