Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- December 6
Saint Asella, Virgin (entered heaven around 406)
Of course joining a sorority is not a sin. I don’t know what could make you think it would be… Actually, I do know. You have seen a lot of morally questionable behavior among members of sororities. Well, that could be. And in that case I can understand why you would feel ambivalent about joining. Unfortunately, however, I can’t ease your mind as definitively as you wish. If it were a sin to join, you wouldn’t have to agonize over the decision; since it’s not, you do. Ultimately, you have to look at the real reasons behind your decision, and you have to see whether sorority life will help or hinder you from achieving the goals of a college education. The life of today’s saint offers a criterion that may aid your discernment.
Asella became a nun at the age of 10. Obviously, she had a special calling. At the age of 12 she retreated even farther from worldly affairs, taking up residence in a little cell in a Roman residence, where she passed the rest of her life. She only came out to go to Mass and to visit the tombs of the Martyrs on special holidays (i.e. “holy-days”). Her holiness was eloquent, and contagious. Soon a bunch of like-minded women occupied adjoining cells, and a religious community of hermits was formed, right in the middle of the cosmopolitan city. Towards the end of her life she received visits from bishops, scholars, and assorted Church leaders. All gave testimony of her wisdom, joy, tranquility, and deep charity. No stories of extraordinary phenomena have come down to us, however. She died without fanfare.
You are wondering what kind of lesson St Asella, recluse that she was, can possibly teach a sociable young lady like yourself faced with a decision about sorority life. A very important one, in my opinion. St Asella proves that what truly nourishes the soul, what makes for authentic, deep satisfaction in life, comes not from exterior circumstances, but from the heart. Many people join social associations, formally or informally, permanently or even for one night, thinking that those associations will fill a gap in their souls. Of course, they can’t. They can only help or hinder your own growth in maturity, which is to say growth in self-knowledge and in virtue. So if you judge that a particular sorority – its ideals, its activities, the people who make it up – would encourage personal growth, and that you would flourish in it, to the benefit of the others as well as yourself, it could be a good decision to join. If other factors are at play, however, like mere popularity and vanity and such flimsy adornments, you may want to consider investing your time elsewhere.
What would St Asella do if she were in your place? What would Christ do?... I’ll bolster your prayers with mine.
Your loving uncle, Eddy
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