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St Nemesius and other martyrs
(entered heaven this day in 250)
Let me guess: your room is a mess, your pile of dirty laundry is exceedingly large, you have been keeping an erratic schedule, and you’re feeling completely frazzled. How can I tell? Well, your last note was somewhat disjointed, and you were complaining about lack of interior peace. And since the order (or disorder) of our souls is always directly related to the order (or disorder) of our bodies – our stuff, our schedule, our eating, our exercise – I drew the obvious conclusion that everything is currently in a bit of disarray for you. Sometimes the best way to bring things back under control is to put your room in order, your books in order – just clean up the exterior mess that has been accumulating with the interior mess, and the interior mess will begin to clear itself up as well; if you overcome physical laziness, spiritual laziness will also be more easily conquered. Of course, this assumes that your basic point of reference (i.e., Christ and his plan for your life) is still firmly intact. He alone is the rock foundation that will never fail, which reminds me of one of today’s saints.
You probably remember the story of St Nemesius, who was apprehended for theft in Egypt but had been charged falsely. Unfortunately, during the interrogations that exonerated him from thievery, it came out that he was a Christian – which was illegal. So they had him scourged twice as badly as thieves were scourged and then burnt him to death in the company of a retinue of robbers and other criminals. He, of course, rejoiced to be able to suffer a death so similar to that of our Lord, who was crucified between two thieves. Four other Christians were imprisoned in the same city (Alexandria) at the same time; three of them were tortured and, when they held fast to their faith, burnt alive. The fourth, however, was just 15 years old, and the judge felt somewhat sorry for him. So he took him aside and tried to cajole him into renouncing Christ, offering all kinds of opportunities and special privileges that would be most attractive to a teenager. When these beguilements proved ineffective, the judge had the hapless boy tortured like the rest of the crew, but still, Dioscorus (the boy’s name) held strong. When the others were executed, the judge let Dioscorus go free, saying that he allowed him time to change his mind.
The point is that this young man was able to resist not only the pains of torture and ignominy but also the enticement of pleasure and prestige. How could he keep his balance amid the ebb and flow of such powerful tides? Because he had firmly built his life upon the unmoving foundation of Jesus Christ. That same foundation can give you an equally good footing to combat your frequent “enfrazzlement”, if you let it.
Your affectionate uncle, Eddy