Megan Bodenschatz

Modern Martyrdom

There are two types of people in the world. People who hang the toilet paper so it hangs over the roll, and people who hang it so it hangs under the role. And whichever way you do it you know that your way is the right way.

That is why, several years ago when I was living in a house with some Catholic friends, I switched the toilet paper so that it was positioned the right way. And that is why, a few hours later, when I found that one of my roommates had switched it back I was all set to switch it again.

I promise you this toilet paper story has something to do with holiness, hang in there.

When Christianity first began the idea of holiness and living the faith brought to mind martyrdom ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù literally dying for the faith. After a few hundred years people tried to be holy by becoming hermits, or joining religious orders ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù trying to separate themselves from the world and its temptations.

Even today, when we think of ways to become more holy we think of getting away from the world’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûùgoing on retreat, attending daily mass, reading a religious book, or finding quiet time to pray.

Of course, these practices can bring us to holiness, but we don't always have time to pray like monks. When I was in high school I had a part-time job at McDonald's, took private flute and tuba lessons and was in Girl Scouts. My best friend literally spent all day at school during musical season. As you grow up your work schedule may not accommodate daily mass, and taking care of young kids leaves you so exhausted there's no time for long prayer sessions.

Is there a way to holiness that works with the reality of our busy lives? Is there a way to live your faith like the martyrs if you're living in suburbia?

This is where the toilet paper comes in.

You see, a toilet paper battle has the potential to go on forever. You can spend months passive-aggressively switching the rolls and giving each other dirty looks behind your backs. Getting worked up about the toilet paper (or the laundry, or the dishes) is a weed that can grow into something far worse.

So I didn't change the toilet paper back. I left it hanging the wrong way and it killed me because the wrong way is stupid and my way is better. But that part of me that needed to be right needed to die, like the grain of wheat (John 12:24).

This is how we can grow in holiness in everyday life. Every day gives us new opportunities for our selfish, superior part to die and for us to grow in love. Maybe we do the dishes without grumbling about it, help someone with school work even if we'd rather be doing something else, or take time to hang out with our siblings.

Each time we put aside our 'old self' (Ephesians 4:22-24) and act with patience and kindness, without being rude, self-seeking, or rejoicing in wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4) we live the faith that has been given to us.

We may never be called to lay down our lives, but as Blessed Charles de Foucauld said, 'Live in such a way that you can die tomorrow as a martyr.'

Megan Bodenschatz

About the Author

I will read anything that stands still long enough. I also love going to the movies, meeting people from other countries, and spending time with my 16 cousins. I usually win the "Youngest-Person-at-Daily-Mass Award" whenever I go.