Many cultures and many different experiences are looking for ways to express what is unique and meaningful about individual people and their connections to each other. So we have phrases about cultural identity, about what someone identifies as, about finding one’s own identity.
As human beings, we can’t live very well if we have uncertainty about who we are. We’ll always be doubting ourselves and our choices, we might get swayed one way then another, or become fixated on a false sense of self.
Identity is key.
Where do you find your identity?
They lived in North Africa during the time of the Roman Empire, and the Emperor Severus (like Snape) had made it punishable by death to become Christian. Perpetua, who was a rich and noble woman, and her slave, Felicity, were being instructed in the Christian faith and wanted to be baptized. They were arrested.
One scene shows us how important a strong sense of identity is. Perpetua’s father comes to visit her after her arrest. In Roman culture, the father was the absolute ruler of the household – anything he said was strictly obeyed.
Perpetua’s father said to her, “Listen, I don’t care what you believe, just tell the court you’re not a Christian.”
Perpetua looked at her father and said, “What is that over there?”
Her father said, “A chair.”
Perpetua said, “Why would you call it anything but ‘chair’? That is what it is. And I cannot call myself anything but Christian. That is who I am.”
Imagine that. Imagine being so sure of the love of Christ, so sure of the identity which he gives you, that you stand up to the most powerful thing in the world and win.
Because Perpetua did win. Her father wanted her to believe that Christ’s love didn’t matter. Her culture was so sick and violent that it killed her for believing that she was loved, that she had dignity.
As she walked in to the arena with Felicity, who had been her slave but now in Christ was her friend and sister, Perpetua’s dignity and courage robbed the arena of its savage bloodlust. Her diary of her experience spread through the Empire, inspiring countless women and men to find their identity in Christ as well.
What identity does Christ give us? Beloved, beloved, beloved. Freedom, peace, purpose, direction.
Our unique and unrepeatable personality, and our limitless and unconditional belonging.
Let us pray
O God, at the urging of whose love
the Martyrs Saints Perpetua and Felicity
defied their persecutors and overcame the torment of death,
grant, we ask, by their prayers, that we may ever grow in your love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity pray for us
St Kateri pray for us.