St Marcellus the Centurion

Martyr (entered heaven in 298)

Dear Marcela,

I am sad to hear that you are having such a difficult time with your ROTC commitment, but I bet I know the real reason why: it interferes with some of the “normal” activities that your friends have time for, and, well, as they say, the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” right?  Well, I have nothing better to do than remind my relatives of the truth of things, so I will gladly take a minute to remind you that your ROTC commitment, besides being an objectively good thing (honorably serving your country falls under the auspices of the Fourth Commandment, you will remember), it has the potential to be a real blessing for you personally.  After all, most of those “normal activities” that you long for are hardly productive activities, and you yourself have described to me how dissipated and irresponsible a bunch of your peers have become in the face of college’s many enjoyable but superficial distractions.  I know for a fact that you have plenty of time for a healthy social life and ample relaxation, and my guess is that you are merely feeling tempted by the deceptive pleasures of an unhealthy social life and excessive relaxation.  Well, they are temptations, and should be treated as such.  Take today’s saint for an example.

Marcellus was a soldier, just like you, and a centurion to boot (officer in the imperial army).  He embraced Christ and the Catholic faith during one of the calms between the storms of Roman persecution.  The Holy Spirit took firm hold of his heart and mind, and he began to see clearly the decadence and sinfulness of the “normal” activities encouraged by Roman culture.  While witnessing certain excesses during a feast held in honor of the Emperor’s birthday, he became so disgusted that he publicly renounced his allegiance to the Emperor and his army, throwing to the ground the insignia of his rank.  Of course, abandoning one’s military allegiance was a capital crime, so his fellow soldiers brought him before the officials (after they were done with the feasting) and accused him.  The saint took advantage of the opportunity to witness to Christ, saying: “I serve Jesus Christ the eternal king.  I will no longer serve your emperors, and I scorn to worship your gods of wood and stone, which are deaf and dumb idols.”  He had concluded that the requirements of his pagan duties were incompatible with the demands of Christian living.  Of course, they put him on trial.  He stood firm and had to be executed.

So you see, you are not the only one with duties (natural and supernatural) and loyalties that infringe upon your “freedom” to overindulge in useless (or dangerous) pastimes.  I will say a prayer to St Marcellus to give you the fortitude you need to glory in what is true and right, as he did, instead of complaining about it.

Loyally yours,

Uncle Eddy

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