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Martyr (entered heaven sometime in the sixth century)
It is brave of your friends to become Catholics, and although it may not seem like it, they need your support. Because of their unusual family situation, their conversion will bring with it not only familial disapproval, but the actual loss of status. The Slavic nobility is a tight circle, and the Orthodox among them don’t take kindly to Catholics. Therefore, instead of being able to count on a happy marriage and a life of comfort and influence, these brave young ladies will spend the rest of their lives overcoming rejection and scorn. Of course, it is well worth it; they gain the court of heaven even if they lose the court of Kiev. But even so, they will value faithful friends like you more than they’ll let on, and much more than you will ever know. I will be keeping you all in my prayers as the Easter Vigil approaches.
I hope you learn from their striking example of putting God first. It is a lesson that today’s saint learned quite well. This Constantine (King of Cornwall, England, not to be confused with the Roman Emperor) married well, but lived a temperamental, indulgent, and disedifying life. Then his wife died. His grief at her death was so intense (probably it was the first time his own will had ever been crossed) that he repented of his dishonorable ways. He no longer considered himself worthy of the kingship, so he turned the crown over to his son and made his lonely way to Ireland, where he entered a monastery and spent his days in manual labor. He daily grew in humility and faith. By the time his identity was discovered, he had advanced much in virtue. He was ordained a priest and sent to join the Irish missionary monks in Scotland, where he preached valiantly and eventually became an abbot. As an old man, he undertook another missionary journey, but pirates attacked him and cut off his arm. As he blessed both his followers and his attackers, he slowly bled to death, becoming Scotland’s first martyr.
From king, to errand boy, to priest, to martyr. Not a bad itinerary. With the support of your prayers and friendship, your two friends may follow one equally dignified.
Your loving uncle, Eddy