St Glyceria

Virgin and Martyr (entered heaven around 177)

Dear Gladys,

How fickle we are!  Today we feel exuberant and ready to die before skipping our prayer commitments; tomorrow we feel depressed and can barely stir from the bed, let alone dedicate ourselves to read and pray over the Scriptures.  Today we feel strong enough to overcome any obstacle in our efforts to evangelize college life; tomorrow we shirk the slightest sacrifice and sweep our previous determination under the rug. Ah me! We are inconsistent like the moon, as Shakespeare would say.  But I would add that although we are inconstant, we do not have to be. It’s a simple matter of decision, carried through by love. I remember the note you sent me after you went on retreat a couple of months ago. You were so fired up about everything! You were so excited about your prayer commitments, about your plans for this spring’s activities, about your new schedule to take better advantage of your time… And now?  Dare I remind you of these things? Don’t be discouraged, my worthy niece; ups and downs are normal, especially in the spiritual life, and what’s more, they can be opportunities for growth. If we fail to follow through on our commitments to God and to ourselves, we are faced with a choice: courageously renew the commitment and look for ways not to fail again, or sink into the comfortable mire of self-pity and resignation.  The choice is always ours. God doesn’t care if we need to start over a thousand times; easy victories don’t interest him – he wants us to show and grow our love by fighting on, and on, and on, as long as it takes, picking ourselves up again and again, putting our confidence in him and humbly forging ahead no matter what. Discouragement, my bright little niece, is the devil’s ploy.

As you stir up your courage and renew your commitments, it may be helpful to keep in mind the examples of the early Christian martyrs and to ask for their prayers.  (They are up there in heaven twiddling their thumbs – figuratively speaking – just waiting for us to ask for their help!) Today’s saint is typical of hundreds, thousands, of the first generation of Christians, to whom we owe our faith.  Glyceria was the daughter of a high-ranking Roman official. She became a Christian and publicly avowed her new faith. Of course, that was illegal. So they took her to the temple of Jupiter and invited her to sacrifice to the pagan gods, as a way of making her renounce her new religion.  Instead of sacrificing, however, she toppled the statue of the god and broke it. As punishment (and further motivation to renounce her faith), she was hung up by her hair and beaten with iron rods. God protected her. They tried to starve her in prison. An angel fed her. They threw her into an oven.  The fire was miraculously extinguished. Finally, they pulled out all her hair and threw her to wild beasts.

That’s perseverance; that’s constancy.  Sound fantastic? If you doubt the details, don’t doubt the fact: this college-aged virgin daughter of God stayed faithful to Christ in the face of horrible suffering.  With his help, so can you.

Love, Uncle Eddy


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