Uncle Eddy's E-mail -- March 31
Saint Benjamin, Martyr (entered heaven around 421)
Your point about introducing
spiritual themes and Catholic doctrine gradually and subtly into your seminar discussions is well
taken. Nevertheless, be on the lookout for what the spiritual masters call “human respect”:
refraining from giving witness to Christ out of fear of ridicule. It can sneak up on the most
well meaning apostle, and when it does, tragedy strikes.
I have often
considered it a sad irony that young Catholics like yourself hide their faith in order to save their
“reputation,” but the great Church heroes of the past were willing to give up their very lives
instead of staying silent. Take today’s saint for example. He was one of a host of
martyrs who suffered when King Yezdigerd of Persia (modern Iran) jumpstarted the Persian
persecutions, initiating a 40-year attack against the Church in that country. Benjamin was a
deacon. They apprehended him for his faith, beat him severely, and imprisoned him for an
entire year before an ambassador from the emperor arrived to plead for his release. This was
granted, on the one condition that he refrain from speaking about his religion. The saint
could not accept such a condition, however, and when he went free he continued preaching the
gospel. They took him prisoner again, and his only defense when they brought him before the
king was the following: “What would you think of a subject who would renounce his allegiance and
join in war against him?” obviously alluding to his being a subject of Christ the eternal
King. The Persian king was not impressed. To deter other Christians, they prefaced
Benjamin’s death by inserting reeds between his nails and skin, and into the most tender parts of
his body, then violently removing them. Then they repeated their sport, several times.
Finally they inserted a knotted stake into his bowels and violently removed it, tearing him to
To think that he (and many others) underwent such hideous torture simply because they insisted on witnessing to Christ in word and deed… We have received our treasured faith only because such fellow believers suffered to keep it alive, and yet we hush it up because we are afraid of making waves in the Poly Sci department. May God have mercy on us.
Your wondering uncle,
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