St Benjamin

Martyr (entered heaven around 421)

Dear Minny,

Your point about introducing spiritual themes and Catholic doctrine gradually and subtly into your seminar discussions is well taken.  Nevertheless, be on the lookout for what the spiritual masters call “human respect”: refraining from giving witness to Christ out of fear of ridicule.  It can sneak up on the most well-meaning apostle, and when it does, tragedy strikes.

I have often considered it a sad irony that young Catholics like yourself hide their faith in order to save their “reputation,” but the great Church heroes of the past were willing to give up their very lives instead of staying silent.  Take today’s saint for example. He was one of a host of martyrs who suffered when King Yezdigerd of Persia (modern Iran) jumpstarted the Persian persecutions, initiating a 40-year attack against the Church in that country. Benjamin was a deacon.  They apprehended him for his faith, beat him severely, and imprisoned him for an entire year before an ambassador from the emperor arrived to plead for his release. This was granted, on the one condition that he refrain from speaking about his religion.  The saint could not accept such a condition, however, and when he went free he continued preaching the gospel. They took him, prisoner, again, and his only defense when they brought him before the king was the following: “What would you think of a subject who would renounce his allegiance and join in the war against him?” obviously alluding to his being a subject of Christ the eternal King.  The Persian king was not impressed. To deter other Christians, they prefaced Benjamin’s death by inserting reeds between his nails and skin, and into the most tender parts of his body, then violently removing them. Then they repeated their sport, several times. Finally, they inserted a knotted stake into his bowels and violently removed it, tearing him to pieces.

To think that he (and many others) underwent such hideous torture simply because they insisted on witnessing to Christ in word and deed… We have received our treasured faith only because such fellow believers suffered to keep it alive, and yet we hush it up because we are afraid of making waves in the Poly Sci department.  May God have mercy on us.

Your wondering uncle, Eddy

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