St Cassian of Imola

(northern Italy) Martyr (entered heaven probably sometime in the third century)

Dear Cassie,

To be completely honest, I am glad you have decided to go through with graduate school.  I have confidence that you will come to honor the noble profession of teaching by spreading a sincere love for truth among all your students.  Teaching is an inherently honorable profession, though not without its dangers. Chief among these are pride and vanity. In just a couple of weeks, you will begin having undergraduate students under your care.  You will know more than they do, and they will look up to you, and you will have to make an effort to stay humble. From the other direction, you will be assailed by professorial intrigue, as peers compete with you for recognition (and tenure) and accomplished scholars vie for your allegiance.  It will take a conscious and constant effort to hold fast to your Christian principles of honesty and charity amidst the academic fray. Take a lesson from today’s saint.

The man was a Christian grammar teacher in northern Italy.  He taught kids how to read and write. Of course, Christianity was not the most popular of creeds back in the 200s, and during one of the many waves of persecution, he was turned in.  When he refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, the judge condemned him to be stabbed to death by his own students. Back then they used wax-covered tablets for their lessons, and iron rods (pointed on one end and round on the other) to write and erase on the wax.  So they exposed the humble teacher in the town square, armed 200 pagan boys with their “pens,” and stirred them up against St Cassian. It took a while to stab him to death, as the boys made sport of cutting letters out of his skin and similar variations on stabbing, but Cassian encouraged them to be brave and finish the job, since it would only speed his journey to the joys of union with Christ.  His fellow Christians tearfully laid his mutilated remains to rest.

When we are faithful to Christ, we always run up against some kind of opposition.  Yours will probably be less barbaric, but it might be even more insidious, so be ready.

God bless, Uncle Eddy

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