Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Bit More About the Martyrs of Sebaste

If you went to this blog that I linked to yesterday, you read that when the men were in the freezing lake, they prayed for relief and the following happened.
Their prayer was heard. In the third hour of the night a warm light bathed the holy martyrs and melted the ice. By this time all but one of the guards had fallen asleep. The guard who was still awake had been amazed to witness the death of the soldier who had fled to the baths and to see that those in the water were still alive. Now, seeing this extraordinary light, he glanced upward to see where it came from and saw thirty-nine radiant crowns descending onto the heads of the saints, immediately, his heart was enlightened by the knowledge of the Truth. He roused the sleeping guards and, throwing off his clothes, ran into the lake shouting for all to hear, "I am a Christian too!" His name was Aglaius, and he brought the number of martyrs once again to forty.
It made me wonder a bit. Why did the Lord send the warm light to melt the ice when they were going to die anyway. You might say that it was for the sake of Aglaius, you would have thought the light and crowns would have been enough.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that although we seldom experience anything this dramatic--well, probably never--but this is what happens to us in our own lives. In the midst of the worst times, the Lord breaks through for a time, maybe a very short time, and it's by holding on to these little epiphanies that we are able to persevere. It got me thinking about the Transfiguration.

I wrote on the feast of the Transfiguration last year that when I prayed the Mysteries of Light, I never quite knew what to do with the Transfiguration. I prayed that I would be transformed, but that didn't seem quite right. Then about a month ago it occurred to me that when Peter, James, and John went up on the mountain, it wasn't to be transformed, it was to be prepared for the crucifixion, and for their own suffering. After experiencing this overwhelming vision, they could no longer wonder if Jesus was Who He said He was, and in all the dark moments to come, they would have this to sustain them.

We always want to build our tent on that mountain. We want to experience that warm light that melts away the frozen world that surrounds us. In this world, we never can, but we can still our hearts for just a moment and remember, and then go out and face whatever may come.


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