This fall I volunteered at a local hospital. Something of a self-confessed germaphobe and directionally challenged in a cavernous building in which one was required to use the unmarked labyrinthine back hallways, I was way out of my comfort zone! Any tendencies toward arrogance or grandiosity quickly fizzled in the face of repeated moments of humility. I was clearly the novice at the tasks assigned to me! A martyrdom of the ego, to be sure!

St. Stephen experienced a violent death that most of us will not have to face. But Stephen can teach us much about the daily martyrdoms we encounter: choosing patience when we feel frustrated, forgiving those we’d rather not, speaking kind words instead of hasty retorts. Each time we choose divine tenderness over human violence we labor with God in a creative way.

What is the martyrdom of the heart asked of me today?

—Susan Kusz, SND serves as Associate Director at the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, WI.