"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose," St. Paul writes to the Romans. Today we commemorate the eighty holy desert dwelling martyrs most hideously slain by bloodthirsty barbarians at Sinai and Raithu in the Fourth Century. Truly they were angels in the flesh, having embraced a life of hardship and deprivation in this bleak and barren wilderness for the sake of Christ, their hearts totally consumed by the love of God.
And so, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Indeed, these grace-filled ascetics endured with superhuman courage every manner of tribulation and distress, peril and the sword, rejoicing that God should deem them worthy of two-fold martyric crowns. "As it is written, for Thy sake we are killed all day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
This has been a harsh winter in Wisconsin, a period of suffering and tribulation for many of us. Nevertheless, we know that while life in this vale of tears may be bitter, our Holy Faith assures us that Paradise is sweet. It is only through many trials and hardships that our souls are purified like gold in a furnace and rendered worthy of eternal life in God's heavenly Kingdom.
And so, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us take courage, thanking God from the bottom of our hearts for the manifold afflictions He sends us. Let us pray with fervent desire for the gift of patience, knowing that only he that endures unto the end shall be saved. Even so, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" However small or great our sufferings here below, our minds cannot conceive of those good things God has in store for those who love Him and strive at all times to keep His commandments.