St Maximilian

Martyr (entered heaven in 295)

Dear Max,

If you are afraid to take a stand for Christian morals now, while still in the insulated comfort of college, I blanche to think how you will fare in the exposed battlefields of Washington, New York, or Los Angeles.  Now you only have your reputation and popularity to lose, when you’re in the working world, your livelihood will also be on the line. If you keep folding now, you may end up betraying the Lord completely then. I don’t mean that you have to set up a soapbox in the student union (though that’s not a bad idea, come to think of it – kind of like a primitive “open mic” night).  But if you, who have received so much more grounding in the faith than your peers, who understand what is really at stake in these issues, if you don’t engage those moral vultures (maybe through articles in the student newspapers, maybe through round table discussions or debates, maybe in more creative ways), who will? Think about all the incoming students who sense that these behaviors are wrong, but have nothing solid to grab on to as they are slowly swept into decadence (either in their ideals, or their behavior, or both).  They need someone to take some leadership. If not you (and any of your friends that you can rally to join you), then who? Maybe you need to reflect a little bit on the example of the Christians who have gone before you, like today’s saint.

Maximilian was 21 – the same age as you – and he lived in Algeria (called Numidia in his day).  The governor had issued a general draft order, so Maximilian and his dad were called before the court to be measured for military service.  The young man was a Christian, however, and knew that service in the Roman army of those days would require him to pay allegiance to gods other than Christ.  Therefore, when they asked his name, he replied, “What is the good of replying? I cannot enlist, for I am a Christian.” They proceeded to measure him, however, and he continued, “I cannot serve, I cannot do evil.  I am a Christian.” They ignored him. They presented him with his military badge, but he refused it, saying, “Never! … My army is the army of God, and I cannot fight for this world. I tell you, I am a Christian.” (Of course, if Roman soldiers had not been required to practice idolatry, the situation would have been a different – legitimate defense of one’s country is not a sin, but a duty and a virtue.)  The official in charge of the proceedings gave a simple retort: “You must serve or die.” Maximilian staid firm, “I will never serve. You can cut off my head, but I will not be a soldier of this world, for I am a soldier of Christ.” The official argued, “There are Christian soldiers serving our rulers Diocletian and Maximian, Constantius and Galerius,” but the young saint would not be deterred. He answered, “That is their business.  I also am a Christian, and I cannot serve.” The interview continued, and the young man showed noble courage and robust faith, parrying every thrust of the shrewd proconsul. Finally, he was led away to be beheaded for refusing the military oath.

The faith you have received, and the Church through which you have received it, have come to you through an unbroken chain of such heroic fidelity, starting with Christ himself, faithful to the Father’s will even unto death on a cross.  Now you have a chance to join that worthy company, to extend the chain by one more link. Count on my prayers.

Your most loving uncle, Eddy

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