St Abraham Kidunaia

(entered heaven sometime in the sixth century)

Dear Abe,

Whatever you do, don’t give up.  Hell is furnished with thousands of wonderful apostolic projects that were abandoned before completion.  If you believe in God, keep forging ahead; don’t let obstacles and failures and difficulties deter you. For a Christian who really loves Jesus, who is passionately devoted to the Kingdom, an apostolic endeavor undertaken, is an apostolic endeavor completed.  If you persist, the devil can’t resist. Today’s saint is a perfect example.

He grew up in Iran (before it was called Iran), and his parents were fabulously wealthy.  They arranged a very convenient marriage for their only son, but on the eve of the ceremony, he fled into the desert – praying for God to somehow allow him to pursue his vocation to celibacy and solitude.  A search party found him, but they couldn’t convince him to return, so they left him there in his cave. He walled himself up with the minimum of possessions and for years dedicated himself to prayer and sacrifice.  

Nearby there was a city inhabited solely by pagans, who had resisted every attempt at evangelization.  The bishop of the diocese was distressed about these souls and asked Abraham to emerge from his hermitage in order to minister to them.  Reluctantly, the saint agreed. He was ordained and sent to the iniquitous city. Of course, no one paid any heed when he arrived, and he was shocked by their abominable practices.  He then asked the bishop to have a church erected in the middle of the town, which was done. He spent a night in prayer, and then went all through the city, smashing the idolatrous altars and the vain idols.  The townspeople were furious. They beat him violently and drove him out of the city. That night he sneaked back in and was found praying in the church when the sun came up. As the people began their daily labors, he emerged and started preaching in the streets, urging them to give up their false religion.  This time the villagers dragged him out of the city, stoned him, and left him for dead. He wasn’t dead, though. And as soon as he regained consciousness, he went back in and kept on preaching. This pattern continued for three years. For three solid years he prayed and tried to evangelize these stubborn pagans, and for three solid years, they violently opposed him.  Finally, however, his patience and meekness wore them down, and God softened their hearts. Eventually, everyone in the town was baptized, and Abraham staid on for another year, instructing them in the faith every day. When they were sufficiently grounded, he sneaked back into his hermitage, and the bishop sent other ministers to tend his recovered flock.

It’s a true story, my discouraged nephew.  You’ve only been trying to evangelize that pagan campus for one year; you have no reason to give up now, or even relax your efforts.  Maybe you need some new and creative ways to go about it, but God is counting on you to keep on trying. In the end, he will grant the victory in his own wise way.  Count on my prayers.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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