St Getulius and Companions

Martyrs (entered heaven in 120)

Dear Julie,

Though I disapprove of your dating those undisciplined jock-types (actually, you shouldn’t be “dating” at all, if you mean by “dating” that weird kind of exclusive collegiate relationship where you pretend for a semester or two to be married, without ever thinking seriously about what sincere commitment to another person really entails – an ugly and damaging distortion of courtship, if you ask me…  I will be taking it up with your mother shortly), since you are on the cheerleading squad, you might as well take advantage of all that time you spend with those young men in order to do something productive. Take your cue from St Symphorosa, the wife of today’s saint, St Getulius.

Getulius was an officer in the Roman Imperial army at the pinnacle of the Empire’s greatness.  But his wife succeeded through prayer and virtue to win him to the Christian faith. At that point, he retired from the army and moved to a villa outside of Rome, where he formed a small (but vibrant) Christian community, which he taught and supported, together with Symphorosa.  In the midst of his teaching one day, the Emperor’s vicar, Cerealis, showed up to arrest him (you weren’t allowed to be Christian back then; it was considered a threat to civil society, since Roman greatness was thought to depend on the favor of pagan gods, whom the Christians refused to worship).  But Getulius (and his brother, Amantius) engaged him in conversation, and soon the vicar accepted Christ and was baptized. The emperor was not impressed (to put it mildly) and sent another envoy to arrest all three of them. Since they all refused to renounce their faith, they were duly tortured and burnt at the stake.  St Symphorosa buried their remains in a shrine on her estate.

So, if ancient Roman army officers can turn from bloodthirsty piracy to heroic Christian faith, I guess there’s hope for postmodern linebackers and tackles – as long as some virtuous and shrewd Symphorosas are around to guide them.  So brush up on your catechism over the summer, pray a lot, convert the other cheerleaders, and then you’ll be ready to add a few more saints to the Church’s all-star team. Just don’t start “dating” until you are ready and willing to start committing.

Count on my prayers, Uncle Eddy

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