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Virgin and martyr (entered heaven in 303)
I know that it is hard to keep living the demands of your faith in the middle of that decadent campus culture. I know that temptations ceaselessly assail you, and your defenses get worn down. (Of course, that’s why you should keep reading my emails every day.) But when fidelity to Jesus, our best and wisest friend, demands heroic efforts, it yields its most marvelous results. If you and your band of fellow Catholics fight bravely on, taking care firstly of your prayer and sacramental life, secondly of your duties as students and members of the campus community, and thirdly of your call to spread in creative and effective ways the truth of Christ, you will give our Lord opportunities to win over the hearts of those who don’t know him or have abandoned him. It is hard, I know, but it is the only thing worth striving for – fidelity to Jesus and his Church. Your namesake knew it, and she lived it. Perhaps recalling her example will encourage you.
Marciana was from North Africa, you will remember, and when the Emperor Diocletian’s diabolical persecution of Christians broke out at the turn of the second century, she forfeited her enviable social position (with all the trimmings) in order to proclaim her loyalty to a higher Emperor, Jesus Christ. To wear her down (you see, you are not alone in feeling the wear and tear of staying faithful to our Lord), they beat her with clubs. When that didn’t work, they threw her to a group of hardened gladiators for their “entertainment.” Even then her chastity was miraculously defended, and one of the criminals was converted to the cause of Christ. Finally they made bloody sport of her by exposing her to a starved wild bull and a leopard in the local amphitheatre. She was torn to pieces, but died with the name of Jesus on her smiling lips.
Think of her as you weather your own storms, and ask for her prayers. And be sure that just as her fidelity strengthened her fellow Christians and saved the soul of that brutal gladiator, so your fidelity will bear abundant and luscious supernatural fruit.
Your affectionate uncle, Eddy