St Joseph St Donatian and St Rogatian

Martyrs (entered heaven in 289 or 304)

Dear Donald,

Happy baptismal anniversary!  If I am not mistaken, you were baptized exactly a year ago today, one of many young men whom God has graced at the dawn of their adult lives with a desire to carry the torch of faith into this world’s dark and seductive faithlessness.  It fills me with ardent zeal to think of how good our Lord is to have led you gently into his eternal family, and how generous you have been to follow his lead in spite of so much opposition (I’m still working on your dad, don’t worry about him) and difficulty.  I deem it supernaturally suitable that your baptism occurred on today’s saints’ day.

Donatian and Rogatian were brothers from a high-class family in western France.  When good old Emperor Maximian initiated yet another persecution against the Christians, requiring all citizens of the Roman Empire to sacrifice to the gods Jupiter and Apollo or be killed, Donatian (the younger brother, by the way) held fast, showing remarkable humility coupled with indomitable courage.  So much so that his older brother was moved to ask for baptism. Donatian joyfully gave him a kiss of peace as he instructed him about the sacrament and the faith, but the bishop was in hiding, so Rogatian’s baptism was delayed. Meanwhile, the Emperor’s prefect rode into town and rounded up all the Christians.  Donatian, a recognized follower of Christ, was one of the first to be threatened and then imprisoned. When, much to the surprise of old bosom buddies and family members, Rogatian refused to renounce his own newfound faith in order to escape a similar fate, he ended up next to his brother on death row. They spent the night together in fervent prayer, and the next day they were given a second chance.  They only reaffirmed their fidelity to Christ and his Church. So they were racked. Still refusing to worship the pagan gods, their heads were pierced with lances. Finally, the prefect’s patience ran out, and he had their heads chopped off. Rogatian’s only regret as he went to death was that he had not been baptized; he begged the Lord to accept his brother’s kiss of peace in its place.

Yes indeed, my young Christian nephew, you and I, by God’s grace, are links in a long chain of heroic faith.  Every Catholic church across the globe, every martyr’s shrine, every convent, and monastery – they are all home to us.  May Saints Donatian and Rogatian pray that we stay as faithful as they did, for the glory of God and the advance of his Kingdom.

Love, Uncle Eddy

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