St Cyril of Caesarea

Martyr (entered heaven around 251)

Dear Priscilla,

I must write quickly, because they are taking me out for another “interrogation” tonight, but I can’t delay answering your last note.  You mustn’t be surprised to find opposition to your most generous and noble vocational decision, even from people intimately related to you.  Our Lord himself said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.

For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:34-38)  Believe me, my beloved niece, I know how heavily these words can weigh upon such a sensitive and loving soul as yours, but also believe me when I tell you that climbing with Jesus up onto the cross of Calvary – when we climb out of faith, love, and obedience to his will – is the only path to fulfillment and salvation, both for ourselves and for those we love. His will is identical to his love.

Today’s saint may be able to give you some encouragement, both with his prayers and with his example.  He was just a boy (younger even than you) when he secretly embraced the faith and was baptized, unbeknownst to his dad.  When Cyril refused to pay any tribute to the family idols after his baptism, his father kicked him out of the house. Of course, it was illegal to be Christian at the time, so when the Roman Governor of Cappadocia (near today’s Turkey) heard about it, he had the boy arrested and brought before him.  He offered plentiful gifts and opportunities (attractive to a boy) if Cyril would return to his family’s faith, but he wouldn’t be cajoled. Threats proved equally powerless. So the official ordered his execution, but instructed the guards to bring him back after showing him the pit of blazing fire that he was to be thrown into.  Upon the boy’s return, his only remorse was that the sentence of execution had not been carried out! Enraged and humiliated by the youth’s unassailable faith and invincible courage, the Governor had him impaled on a sword.

Sometimes, I know, we think we would much prefer that kind of challenge, so clear and forthright.  But the martyrdom of trusting in God amid doubts and confusions can be equally (if not more) pleasing to our Lord.  Meditate often on this sentence: God will never be outdone in generosity.

Love and prayers, Uncle Eddy

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