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St Asclas of Antinoe
(in Egypt) Martyr (entered heaven around 287)
Though I haven’t heard from you in a long while, I am still counting on your prayers. God knows that I need them. I have lost track of how long I’ve been cooped up here in this cubicle, seeing nothing but the dull office furniture dully illuminated by dull fluorescent lights, and eating nothing but bland, stale, and plastic-y cafeteria-like leftovers. They say that God personalizes everyone’s cross, and he has sure personalized this one for me.But I am glad to bear it, for the sake of our nieces and nephews, whom I constantly remember in prayer, and with whom I am able to keep up some kind of an email correspondence. If I didn’t have that, I don’t know if I would be able to continue. But the Lord knows what we need, right?
I just wish I could know if our nieces and nephews are really making progress. Their university-worlds seem so infested with philosophical and moral diseases that sometimes I get the feeling I’m pouring clean water into a cesspool. But you would tell me to trust in God. I do. And the example of today’s saint encourages me.
We don’t know much about his background. Nothing, in fact. We just know he lived in Egypt, was a Christian, and was arrested by the governor Arrian (author of so many gruesome martyrdoms) under the persecution instigated by Diocletian. I like to think that the Saint was some kind of an official in the Egyptian government, and that he worked in the equivalent of an ancient cubicle (or perhaps they used “pyramidals” back in the day), seeing almost no one almost all the time. I don’t think such a conjecture is far from the truth. At least, we know for certain that after his arrest and before his martyrdom he spent plenty of time in prison – and not a humane prison either. A dungeon of a prison, with all the comforts thereof.
While he was wallowing in the slimy solitude of his cell, Arrian got on his ancient, aquatic limousine in order to cross the Nile River for business. In an odd turn of events, he found that the barge wouldn’t budge, not an inch; it hugged the shore like a rock. St Asclas took advantage of the situation. He sent word that the governor would be unable to cross the river until he acknowledged Christ’s Lordship – in writing. Perturbed, but undeterred, Arrian wrote out his statement, and sure enough the raft set off. Once he got to the other side, however, he sent word back to Asclas: he should be tortured immediately and put to death by drowning.
Ah, how it comforts me! There was a saint so holy that God used him to offer a miracle to the pagan governor in order to win the salvation of his soul, but even that didn’t work! Just so, I can only write and send my emails to our nieces and nephews, but it’s up to them to take or leave whatever good advice they may contain.
Your ever faithful brother,