St Cyril of Jerusalem

Archbishop and Doctor of the Church (entered heaven in 386)

Dear Sarah,

I am glad to hear that your roommate’s preparations for confirmation are going well.  In my book, you’re the best sponsor she could have. (She must agree, since she chose you.)  In your discussions, don’t neglect telling her about the difficulties that are certainly in store for her.  Stress how important it is that she understands the Church’s basic teachings as deeply as possible, so that she doesn’t get led astray later on by unorthodox flatterers.  And above all, make sure she realizes that her friendship with Christ and membership in the Church is only the beginning of the adventure – the “happily-ever-after” ending won’t appear for quite some time, most likely.  It’s a lesson that today’s saint spent 35 years learning. That’s how long he was Patriarch of Jerusalem, and almost half of those years he spent in exile. He happened into his noble vocation about the time that the Arian heresy was at its height.  Since he championed the true faith without compromise, he made plenty of powerful enemies (for some reason, many of the eastern church’s most energetic prelates of the fourth century were Arians – heretics, that is, who denied Christ’s divinity). And since Jerusalem was such an important city, they wanted to oust him and install their sympathizers.  This they did (with the collaboration of various emperors) three separate times. Therefore, St Cyril spent 16 of his 35 episcopal years in exile. He remained faithful, however, and encouraged others to do the same. It wasn’t easy, but he stood strong as one of the pillars of orthodoxy amid a savage doctrinal controversy.

Your roommate may not have to face such daunting challenges (though, on the other hand, maybe she will – you never know), but she will have to face some kind of challenge.  It’s the way God allows us to exercise our faith and obedience, and increase our brightness level of heavenly glory.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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