The Real Birthday

St. Irenaeus

I love balloons as much as the next guy. And I very much appreciate the little bouquet of balloons tethered at my parking place when I arrived at church this morning.

But I really think we ought to celebrate St. Irenaeus’ birthday today.

1,811 years ago today, this catechetical and evangelical genius gave his life for Christ, preferring to die, rather than offer pagan sacrifice at the compulsion of the Roman authorities. Irenaeus died alongside a great number of fellow martyrs in the city of Lyons, on the day before the 135th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Peter.

Let’s celebrate their birthday today. Their birthday into eternal life. The birthday of a saint is the day he or she leaves this earth, headed to the kingdom of God.

The labor pains of such a birth do not come by conjugal union of man and woman, but by persevering faith in the eternally fruitful Word of God. When we believe—when we believe in Christ, no matter what—He gives us a birth into a life that never ages and never ends.