Uncle Eddy's E-mail -- September 18
Saint Methodius of Olympus, Martyr (entered heaven in 311)
I’m glad to hear that at the beginning of your sophomore year you have succeeded in avoiding the dangerous pitfalls you dived into at the beginning of your freshman year. It’s proof that you learned something last year (and didn’t forget it over the summer). Nevertheless, the particular difficulty you mentioned in your note can’t be resolved simply by doing push-ups in moments of temptation. In the sensual campus culture where you find yourself, Christian chastity has to go more than just skin deep. Today’s saint has the advice you need.
Methodius was one of those holy bishops that the early Church pumped out into the world in enormous quantities. He was a spiritual father, a scholar, a statesman, a teacher, and, above all, a saint. He was bishop at Olympus, in Asia Minor (today’s Turkey), until he was sent to the See of Tyre (in Palestine) after the martyrdom of St Tyrannio. Another episcopal switch brought him to Chalcis, Greece, where he in turn bore witness to Christ by giving his life instead of renouncing his faith during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian.
His theological and literary works were loved and often quoted by the best subsequent Christian writers, including St Jerome, St Epiphanius, and Theodoret. One of these was called, “The Banquet of the 10 Virgins”, modeled on Plato’s Symposian, in which Graecium, a Christian matron, tells Eubius (who represents St Methodius himself) about the conversation she had at a recent banquet held with 10 Christian virgins. Each of the 10 virgins extols the value of Christian virginity, defending it from misunderstandings and distortions, while at the same time making its true meaning shine through. And here’s a sample that applies particularly to your situation. St Methodius explains that chastity involves ordering one’s whole life around Christ and the pure love of his Kingdom, not just trying to “resist temptation”:
“But all the members [of the body] are to be preserved intact and free from corruption; not only those which are sexual, but those members also which minister to the service of lusts. For it would be ridiculous to preserve the organs of generation pure, but not the tongue; or to preserve the tongue, but neither the eyesight, the ears, nor the hands; or lastly, to preserve these pure, but not the mind, defiling it with pride and anger… It is altogether necessary for him who has resolved that he will not err from the practice of chastity, to keep all his members and senses clean and under restraint, as is customary with the planks of ships, whose fastenings the ship-masters diligently join together, lest by any means the way and access may lie open for sin to pour itself into the mind.”
Your inspired desire to follow Christ down the path of chastity, and to thereby experience all the resulting benefits, will never be fulfilled if you just focus on the “chastity” part and keep forgetting about the “following Christ” part.
Your loving uncle, Eddy
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