St Donatian, St Laetus and companions

Martyrs (entered heaven in 484)

Dear Liddy,

You shouldn’t be surprised at running into opposition from fellow Catholics.  We are all sinners, and the Church has suffered from internal strife since the very beginning (wasn’t Jesus’ betrayer one of the Church’s first bishops?).  Our Lord told that parable about the wheat and the weeds growing up side-by-side and only being separated at harvest time, and he told it for a reason.  You just continue along your path of virtue, prayer, and apostolic action, collaborating with all those who love God and his Church, and don’t let petty intrigues sidetrack you.  God will take care of the rest.  He may even use your example of patience and charity to win some of his rebels back into the peace and fruitfulness of obedience.

Today’s saints had to suffer a similar difficulty.  They lived in North Africa at the time of King Huneric, who was an Arian (the Arian heresy spread far and wide in the early years, and for a long time threatened to destroy the Church entirely).  He attempted to forcefully remove true Catholics from his entire realm.  To this end he destroyed churches, burned books, and imprisoned those he could not convert through fear or bribery.  St Laetus was a faithful bishop who infuriated the king, and suffered for it by being cast into a foul dungeon, only emerging in order to be burnt alive.  Donatian and four other bishops loyal to the true faith were driven out of the city and left to survive on their own in the wilderness.  During a journey King Huneric ran across them, and they denounced his heresy and cruelty.  On the spot he ordered his mounted soldiers to ride them down.  They were driven into the desert like cattle, mutilated, and left to die of exposure and starvation.

So you see, my faithful niece, you are not alone in facing opposition from those you thought were “on the same team.”  But just as Arianism was defeated by the fidelity and charity of ancient saints, so you can win over your detractors by prayer and virtue – just never let them stop your efforts to spread the Kingdom.

Faithfully yours, Uncle Eddy

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