St Anysia

martyr (entered heaven around 304)

Dear Ann,

As always when I write to you, I feel that I can bare my heart and will be fully understood.  You have always had the gift of compassion, for which I am grateful, but at the same time, I foresee that this gift will cause you much pain as you journey through life – sensitive souls suffer the most in this “valley of tears.”  In any case, lately, I have been thinking about how dearly I miss being able to attend Mass. Of course, I offer this great sacrifice up to the Lord for the advance of his Kingdom, and I often unite myself spiritually to the Masses being celebrated throughout the world, but it is still hard to bear, at times.  Recalling the life of today’s saint stirred all this up.

Anysia was just a girl (a Christian girl who grew up in Thessalonika – modern-day Macedonia) when her parents died.  She used her considerable inheritance to benefit the poor and destitute throughout the city, and never lacked for friends because of it.  But soon a cruel persecution broke out in the city. The governor Dulcitius ordered that no Christians be allowed to worship, on pain of death, lest they displease the local pagan gods.  Of course, the Christians continued to gather for Mass on Sundays, in secret, knowing that saving their souls was worth risking their bodies. Anysia was accosted by a city guard while on her way to one of these celebrations.  He asked her (none too nicely) where she was going. She was frightened and made the sign of the cross on her forehead, and the guard seized her demanding to know who she was and where she was going. She boldly answered, “I am a servant of Jesus Christ and am going to the Lord’s assembly.”  Of course, the guard reacted violently and tried to drag her to the pagan sacrificial service instead, but she resisted, whereupon he drew his sword and killed her, right there in the street. Such, sometimes, are the risks going to Mass.

Even more than her courageous death, it is her words to the guard that so impress me.  In her mind and heart, as she made her way to assist at Mass, she was thinking of that sacred celebration of worship as a gathering of the Lord’s servants with their Lord.  It was no empty formula for her, no dry and soulless duty, no mechanical obedience to a nonsensical Church ordinance – it was a living encounter with the Risen Lord, together with all her brothers and sisters in Christ.  That’s someone who understood what the Mass is all about. As I savor her words, the desire to attend the sacred celebrations once again wells up within me… I hope you are taking good advantage of your freedoms, my beloved niece, and keeping your uncle in your prayers.

With love, Uncle Eddy

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One Comment
  1. Thank you Uncle Eddy.
    It is a beautiful way to share to my Confirmation class about the preparation and great anticipation of going to the holy and living sacrifice of the Mass.
    I really like this. Thank you, much.

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