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St Montanus, St Lucius, and their Companions
Martyrs (in North Africa), (entered heaven in 259)
What good are all of your apostolic activities – retreats, guest speakers, social events, etc. – if you and the other organizers give in to jealousy, resentment, and backbiting? If you yourselves are not living the touchstone of authentic Catholicism, sincere love for one another out of love for Christ, what do you think you will communicate to these newcomers whom you are trying to lead into the Church? Certainly not the gospel, that’s for sure. Be careful, my dear niece; just because you have been living your faith consciously and energetically for years now, that doesn’t mean you are exempt from temptation – the devil is more interested than ever in poisoning your heart, because he knows that if he gets you, he gets all those who look up to you as well. Stay humble, and above all make a constant effort to cultivate a servant’s heart.
One of the most remarkable things about today’s saints is precisely the value they placed upon living in the unity of spirit. They all suffered under the horrible persecutions initiated by Emperor Valerian, which lasted for two years straight. The eight martyrs commemorated today were captured, interrogated, ordered to sacrifice to the pagan gods, refused, and spent the next months in dark, filthy prisons, with minimal rations (sometimes nothing at all – not even water – for days at a time) and merciless guards. They were repeatedly taken out and ordered again to sacrifice to the gods, but repeatedly refused, witnessing boldly (in spite of their physical sufferings) to the primacy of Christ. Through this extended trial, which wore them down in every way, their mutual charity keeps them faithful.
One of them recorded the details of their experience up until the days immediately preceding their martyrdom. Notice how he emphasizes this point as he describes their behavior in prison: “We have all one and the same spirit, and this unites and cements us together in prayer, in mutual intercourse, and in all our actions. These are those bonds of affection which put the Devil to flight, which are most pleasing to God, and which by supplication in common obtain from Him whatever is asked. These are the ties which link hearts together, and which make men the children of God. To be heirs of his kingdom we must be his children, and to be his children we must love one another. It is impossible for us to attain to the inheritance of his heavenly glory unless we keep that union and peace with our brethren which our heavenly Father has established amongst us.” It wasn’t easy, as the rest of the narrative explains, but it was what mattered most.
I would encourage you to imitate today’s saints. Certainly don’t ease up on your apostolic endeavors, those who don’t know Christ or don’t yet follow him as they should are in desperate need of your efforts to bring them along, but take great care to give first priority to Christian charity, trusting that God will then clear the way for every kind of success.
Your affectionate uncle, Eddy