St Jonas and St Barachisius

Martyrs (entered heaven in 327)

Dear Barbara,

I will be with you and your brother in spirit as you embark on your Spring Break Mission Trip.  Be sure that God will be hard at work in your own souls and those of the people you visit. Since your trip begins today, why not take today’s saints as special patrons for the next week?  They two were missionaries – kind of – and their example will help you bear up courageously under whatever hardships you have to face; they exemplified and expressed the secret of how to suffer as a true Christian.

They were brothers, and monks, living in Persia (modern day Iran) when King Shapur initiated his infamous persecution of the Christians (he was jealous of their loyalty, wanting them to worship him instead of Jesus).  Jonas and Barachisius left their monastery to give encouragement to the Christians who had been imprisoned in the city of Hubaham – kind of like you leaving the comfort of New England for the wilds of the Amazon. It was a risky business (as is yours), and they ended up being apprehended.  When they refused to burn incense to King Shapur they were tortured with great creativity. Jonas was laid flat on the ground (face downwards) with a sharp stake pointing upwards beneath him, then beaten with rods. He stayed faithful. So they threw him into a frozen pond for the night. Meanwhile, his brother was told that Jonas had capitulated, but he didn’t believe it, and he gave such a resounding exposition of the Catholic faith that his persecutors resolved not let him speak in public again, for fear that he would convert the onlookers.  The next morning Jonas was retrieved from his icy waterbed, but his valor was as warm as ever. When asked if he had spent a particularly uncomfortable night, he cheerily replied, “Not at all! From the day I came into the world, I never remember a more peaceful night, for I was wonderfully refreshed by the memory of the sufferings of Christ!”

And that, my bold young niece, is the point.  We can only take full advantage of our sufferings in this life by linking them to Christ’s sufferings.  Of course, the best way to do this is through participating in the Mass, but when that isn’t possible, a mere turning of our hearts and minds to him will do the trick.  Keep that in mind as you hit the missionary trail. Count on my prayers.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

P.S.  In case you were wondering, after repeated interrogations and tortures, both brothers won the glorious crown of martyrdom.  Jonas was squeezed till his veins burst in a wooden press, and then his body was dismembered and cast into a cistern. They poured hot tar and sulfur down Barachisius’ throat to do away with him.  May God grant that we meet these heroes face to face in heaven!

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