Monday, May 5, 2014

St. Zoe

Happy Feast of St. Zoe!

St. Zoe and her husband Exsuperius (also known as Hesperus) were both Christians and slaves during the reign of Emperor Hadrian in Asia Minor.  Both of them had been raised Christian and had raised both of their sons (Cyriacus and Theodulus) as Christians.  They had all remained true to their faith and had never taken of food offered to idols as their pagan masters did.  The boys hoped to run away from their master, but their mother refused to bless this endeavor.  They asked their mother if they could instead confess to their master, Catullus, their faith.  This she did allow.  Their master did not send them to torture at this point, but instead sent the family away on business, hoping the family would persuade the boys to deny their faith. Instead, while there, they prepared themselves for the possibility of martyrdom.  All of the slaves returned to the master's home for the birthday of Catullus' son.  A feast was prepared at the house in honor of the pagan goddess Fortuna.  Food and wine, including the meat and wine that had been sacrificed to the idol was sent to the slaves, Zoe and her family refused to partake.  When Catullus learned of this, he gave the orders to have the family tortured.  The boys were stripped down and tortured before their parents, who counselled the children to persevere to the end.  Next, the parents were tortured terribly.  Finally, they were all thrown into a furnace and burned.  There they surrendered their souls to the Lord.  Their bodies were preserved in the fire unharmed and angelic singing was heard glorifying the confessors of the Lord.

What an amazing family!  The strength of a mother to encourage her children to follow God even when life is truly at stake, is amazing.  I love learning about the lives of the martyrs.  I don't know what draws me to their stories, but if their is an option, I will always want to read their story first.  As you go through your day, remember St. Zoe.  Think about the incredibly tough decisions she was forced to make and her similarities to Our Lady in watching her sons suffer.  Make the commitment today to find one way (in addition to what you are currently doing) to lead your children to the Lord.  I am beginning Theology of the Body for Middle Schoolers with by older children today.  I have been intending to do this for quite a while, but have allowed life to get in the way.  I received my awakening, when I received the notice that my 6th grader is going through a 2 week "Worth the Wait" sex-ed program at school.  I know this in no way compares to St. Zoe and her decisions, but it does deal with the moral decisions that our children will face and what we face as parents.  If my child is called to learn the secular program (which thank God, is not too explicit) they will also learn the church's model.  Thank you St. JP II for this program!

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