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Martyr (entered heaven around 309)
In all sincerity, I thank you for your frankness. You make a respectable case for the irrelevance of the histories all these martyrs for your present life. Indeed, “no one is threatening the Compass members with death by roasting or torture by red hot irons,” and I can understand why you vehemently call for “an end to those huffy pie-in-the-sky emails that have nothing to do with real life!” Well put, I have to admit.
Well put, but wrong, if I too may be frank. If you have not seen the relevance of these “stories,” as you call them (I would prefer the term “histories”), don’t blame it on the martyrs; blame it on your uncle. Perhaps I have been assuming too much. You see, I have been writing under the assumption that you and your cousins have accepted Christ’s challenge of “taking up your cross daily and following” him (Luke 9:23). No matter where one happens to be, no matter what circumstances one happens to encounter, authentic Christian living is costly. It requires self-sacrifice to schedule in quality prayer time day after day, to be charitable to roommates who get on your nerves, to give your very best on every homework assignment or in every sporting practice, to resist the lure of easy pleasures and live a robust Christian chastity and temperance, to devote one’s intelligence and creativity and energy to finding effective ways of bringing the truth of Christ into the lives of one’s classmates, to heed God’s call when he asks you to change your personal plans for the good of the Church and his Kingdom… And the list could go on and on.
I thought you were all actively engaged in this tremendous and tremendously challenging task, a task that requires a daily martyrdom, one as real as any of the bloody martyrdoms suffered by our brothers and sisters through the ages. If, then, you are not so engaged, certainly the courage and example of this great company of Christian heroes would, I admit, appear utterly irrelevant. Like today’s saint, for instance, who, under the demonical persecution of the Roman Emperor Maximian, was arrested, weakened by a long and difficult imprisonment, stretched on the rack, beaten with metal bars, scourged, scorched with white-hot fire, and then taken down from the rack and beheaded – all because he refused to compromise his allegiance to the one true God. If you could only see that the virtues St Saturninus had to practice in order to persevere through such an ordeal – fortitude, faith, hope, charity, justice, prudence… – are equally necessary for you to achieve holiness right there in the heart of blissful academia land, well then, you would realize that these “stories” are far from irrelevant.
In any case, count on my continued prayers, and please keep writing. God bless.
Your loving uncle, Eddy