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St Pelagia of Tarsus
(entered heaven around 304)
If you lay in the sun long enough you can easily get burned without even noticing. The delightful warmth of the rays, the constant rumbling of the waves, and the gentle caress of the sea breeze lull you to sleep while you roast. It occurred to me recently that social fads (involving clothes, music, and entertainment, for instance) can work in the same way. They lull us into thinking that certain styles, topics, and ways of expression are morally neutral just because they are so common. I don’t mean to be prudish, but some of the girls in that yearbook you sent me are dressed so carelessly (I hope it’s carelessness, at any rate) that a few decades ago they might have been mistaken for ladies of ill repute; their clothes deliberately emphasize their sexual appeal instead of their personal beauty and good taste. Of course, I can understand how young women who have no faith in Christ could make such a mistake (unfortunate as it is – the lack of faith, I mean, as well as the mistake of immodest dress), but you and your friends ought to be well beyond that. Has not God adopted you in Christ as his very own daughters? Therefore, your royal dignity ought to shine through even in your choice of clothes.
I don’t know if you are familiar with St Pelagia of Tarsus. We have little historical data concerning her, but there seems to be a vein of truth in the story. She was denounced to the Roman emperor as a Christian (which was illegal at the time) soon after she had been baptized – a baptism that had induced her fiancée to commit suicide (sounds like a soap opera, doesn’t it?). Devastatingly beautiful as she was, the emperor offered to marry her if she would renounce her faith. Now, keep in mind that emperors back then were really emperors: just imagine the kind of promises and treats his offer would have included! But, recognizing her dignity as a Christian, she decided to stay faithful to her Lord rather than win imperial acclaim. So they encased her in a bronze statue of a bull, within which she was roasted to death.
God forbid that you have to suffer any such torments, but perhaps this sister in Christ can remind you and your girlfriends of the honor that belongs to a daughter of the Eternal King – honor that should shine forth in a charming, elegant, and noble demeanor.
Best of luck on your exams, Uncle Eddy