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Header - All is lost, Save Honor

December 14, 2018 | Norman Fulkerson

 

While we are constantly reminded that humanity seems to be morally spiraling out of control, one outstanding individual action can shed a light of hope in an otherwise dark panorama. That is what happened on Monday, November 19, 2018 with the tragic death of Jamie Schmidt.

That day might have seemed like very normal for Mrs. Schmidt. Little did she know when she entered Catholic Supply, a religious goods store in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, that this ordinary day would be her last. Nor did her family ever dream her life would come to a heroic end with her being compared to Saint Maria Goretti.1

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In many ways, 53-year-old Jamie Schmidt could be considered an average Catholic lady, which only serves to make her final moments more outstanding. She was a mother of three who married her high school sweetheart. She sang in the choir at her parish church, St. Anthony of Padua in High Ridge, Missouri. Friends described her as a giving person: someone who was always there if you needed help. She was also a devotee of Our Lady who actually made and distributed rosaries.

We know this because her reason for stopping at Catholic Supply was to purchase material for her rosary-making apostolate. There were only two other people in the store—both female employees—at the time of her arrival at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Moments later, Thomas Bruce entered. He looked around a bit then explained he was going to make a purchase but needed to get a credit card from his car. When he returned, he had a gun, and the three women were faced with their worst nightmare.

 

“In the Name of God…”

Man pointing gun at cameraBruce ordered the ladies into a corner of the store. One can only speculate as to what was going through Jamie’s head at that critical moment. During the time it took them to reach the designated spot, she could have deduced his indecent intentions by the mere fact that he did not request money from the cash register. Upon arriving at the chosen spot Bruce ordered the ladies to disrobe.

In such a situation, Jamie could have responded in a way that might pacify her assailant. It is likely she understood there would be no reasoning with such a man. The thought also might have occurred to her that God had placed her in that situation because He wanted to test her fidelity to Him. While this is pure conjecture, her categorical response is a documented fact and represented an act of Christian testimony one would only expect to find among early Church martyrs in the Roman Coliseum, not from a twenty-first-century Catholic lady in a modern American city.

“In the name of God,” Jamie said, “I will not take my clothes off!” Using that type of phraseology was the equivalent to taking an oath before her Creator. It was thus an unequivocal, categorical, no, an absolute refusal to a man with a loaded gun who was clearly not going to accept opposition.

 

A Glorious End

Sadly the outcome was what one would expect under the circumstances. She was shot at point-blank range. As she lay mortally wounded on the floor, for what would turn out to be her last moments on Earth, she was in need of immediate spiritual strength and touchingly turned to God.

As life drained from her body, the two employees could hear her murmuring the Our Father, the prayer composed by Our Lord Himself, in a faint voice.

The assailant fled the scene but was later apprehended. Jamie lived long enough to be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. However, she did not cease praying and with her dying breath was heard whispering that same prayer as her short life came to a glorious end.

It would be reasonable for a person who relishes the memory of this brave lady’s heroic sacrifice to ask, why does such a story move us so much? It is because what we see with Jamie’s heroic defense of purity is the overarching luminosity of that which was best in her: honor.2

 

A World That Is Devastated and Without Honor

This forgotten quality has several defining characteristics. First of all, it is the virtue whereby we esteem that which is excellent. This is not a difficult thing to do in the soul-stirring case of a Catholic wife and mother who looks down the barrel of a loaded gun and unhesitatingly chooses death to dishonor.

Secondly, honor is also the quality that drives a person to live up to that excellence in all things. For example, those who care about their honor will not only maintain their purity, they will also seek to practice all virtues because of the love of principle, whether it is convenient to do so or not.

Finally, there are moments in a person’s life that could be defined as an “H-hour” or the all-or-nothing moment. It is a circumstance that asks a person to go above and beyond what they, or anyone who knows them, think they are capable of achieving. When faithful in those moments, the fullness of honor is seen, and along with it, a series of other qualities and virtues appear in the background, as it were, like an angel.

It is for this reason that Jamie’s heroism is particularly refreshing. The days we live in are not much different from the world defined in the Book of Maccabees as being “devastated and without honor.” Therefore, it is in licentious and self-centered times like our own that honor has more brilliance for the simple fact that it stands in stark contrast to the decadence that surrounds us.

 

Bypassing the Pleasures of Life to Do God’s Will

St. Maria Goretti holding a dove vintage Holy Card  America should be very grateful to Mrs. Schmidt for her outstanding example of purity, so very needed in our dissolute times. With her last act, she provided a breath of fresh air in an ugly world. Although she might have been just an “average” lady leading up to the tragic events of November 19th, in one monumental and decisive moment she was catapulted into the pantheon of greatness. It is for this reason that she has been likened to Saint Maria Goretti, the 12-year-old girl who also chose death rather than submit to an equally perverse proposition.

Sadly there are those who, upon hearing Jamie’s story will callously ask, “What was it all worth?” She missed the opportunity to enjoy Thanksgiving with her family and the joyous season of Christmas. She will not see her children grow old nor will she ever be able to caress her grandchildren. While these heart-wrenching considerations are legitimate, especially for mothers reading this article, the all-important lesson of Jamie’s life could be lost. Her final words, while succinct, were at the same time a manifesto on the obligation we all have of being faithful to God’s will, no matter how painful it may be.

However, there are those who will discard such reflections and look upon Jamie as the defeated one who lost out on life’s legitimate pleasures such as the special times spent with family and friends.. We can thus contrast this attitude with that found in the poignant letter of French King Francis I to his mother after suffering a crushing defeat during the Battle of Pavia in 1525. He had lost militarily but maintained that which he considered most precious.

What the king reputedly said in that letter can be aptly applied to the unforgettable Jamie Schmidt. From the place in eternity she now occupies, Jamie can justly say to those she left behind, “All is lost, save honor.

 



Footnotes:
1. https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/will-this-be-the-first-american-born-martyr  [back to text]
2. The concepts of honor given here were developed by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in a series of meetings on the subject given in 1976. He was able to make voluminous commentaries on this subject because he was, in a very eminent way, a man of honor. [back to text]

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for January 18, 2021

To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, withou...

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January 18

 

To live without faith,
without a patrimony to defend,
without a steady struggle for truth,
that is not living, but existing.

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassatti


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St. Prisca

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St. Prisca

There are actually three St. Priscilla’s who lived in the first few centuries of the Church – all of whom were martyrs – and two of them share the same feast day of January 18! It is the virgin martyr St. Prisca that the Church primarily celebrates today though.

Prisca was born of a noble family in Rome during the reign of Claudius II. Most likely a Christian from birth, she was arrested during the persecutions when she was a young teenager and brought before the Emperor for questioning. Despite her youth, Prisca courageously proclaimed and upheld her Catholic Faith, even though she knew that by doing so in those days was ultimately the pronouncement of her own death sentence.

She suffered terrible tortures, one of which was being taken to the arena to be devoured by wild beasts. Rather than devour her though, the lions are said to have licked her feet! Finally, she was taken outside the city walls and beheaded. Legend tells us that when she was martyred, a great eagle appeared above her and protected her body for several days until the Christians were able to retrieve it.

The young martyr was buried in the Catacomb of St. Priscilla - the catacomb named after the St. Priscilla, wife of a Roman senator, who shares the same feast day of January 18 with the child-martyr, Prisca. She is said to have opened her home near the catacomb to Christians and to have befriended St. Peter who used her home as his headquarters in Rome. She was martyred during the reign of Emperor Domitian. As an interesting fact, there is probable speculation that this St. Priscilla was a family relation of the child-martyr St. Prisca, who is buried in her catacomb.

The third  St. Priscilla was a disciple of St. Paul and wife of the Jewish tentmaker, Aquila.

St. Margaret of Hungary

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St. Margaret of Hungary

Margaret of Hungary was the daughter of King Bela IV, a champion of Christendom, and Maria Laskarina, a pious Byzantine princess. Bella IV being the brother of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Margaret was the saintly Queen of Hungary’s blood niece.

King Bela and his queen, worried about an impeding Tartar invasion, vowed to dedicate to God the child they were expecting. Bela was victorious over the Tartars, and little Margaret was taken to the Dominican monastery at Vezprem at the age of three.

The child thrived in her new surroundings. By age four she had memorized the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At age ten she was moved to a convent built for her by her father on an island – today named Margaret Island – on the Danube near Buda and there she professed her vows at age twelve.

King Ottokar II of Bohemia having seen Margaret at eighteen years of age, ignoring her religious habit, sought her in marriage. A dispensation would have been possible in this case, and King Bela seemed to favor the prospect for political reasons. Yet, Margaret adamantly refused declaring she would have no other bridegroom than Jesus Christ, and would rather cut off her nose and lips.

Margaret’s was a life of astounding penance, prayer and charity toward the poor. To avoid preferential treatment in the convent because of her royal rank, she sought the most menial tasks to the point that a maid once said that she was humbler than a servant.
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Mary and the Muslim

Don Octavio del Monaco was a wealthy citizen of 17th century Naples. Like many of his class, Don Octavius had several Muslim slaves in his household. These children of Islam were amazed at the kindness of their “master.” He fed and clothed them better than they received in their native land. In return, his slaves attended to their tasks with diligence, as Don Octavius did not over work them, but assigned them duties in keeping with their dignity as children of God.

If these Muslim slaves had any reason for complaint, it was the gentle persistence with which their master and his wife exhorted them to give up their false religion and become Catholics. Don Octavius even went so far as to invite the slaves to join his family in the chapel to worship the one true God with them!

Our story today is about one young slave in particular. His name was Abel, like the slain son of Adam and Eve. He felt drawn in a peculiar way to a lamp that burned in front of a shrine to Holy Mary. Abel would purchase the oil needed to keep the lamp lit from his own meager stipend. As he continued to practice this humble devotion, he would say, “I hope that this Lady will grant me some great favor.”

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian. At first the Turk resisted. But she placed her hand upon his shoulder, and said to him: “Now no longer resist, Abel, but be baptized and called Joseph,” conferring on him a name that was very dear to her Immaculate Heart indeed.

On August the 10th, 1648, there was much rejoicing in Heaven, for on that day “Joseph” and eleven other Muslims converted to the Christian faith and were baptized. Their conversion was brought about by the kindness shown by Don Octavius and the special intercession of the Mother of God.

Our story does not end here. Even once this son of hers was safely baptized, Mother Mary delighted in visiting him. Once, after having appeared to him, she was about to depart. But the Moor seized her mantle, saying, “Oh, Lady, when I find myself afflicted, I pray you to let me see you.” In fact, she one day promised him this and when Joseph found himself afflicted he invoked her, and Mary appeared to him again saying, “Have patience", and he was consoled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

One night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him he must become a Christian.

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