Sebastian is the patron saint of the newest member of our family–and I named him after Sebastian because during my pregnancy, when my intense suffering began, a priest told me about this saint. He told me that Sebastian was shot with arrows–and recovered. And I liked the symbolism.
I liked the idea of undergoing this intense suffering and surviving–the idea that I could get up on my feet again. That’s what I needed to hear. That’s the vision I wanted to have.
But Sebastian’s story goes on from there. After he was nursed back to health from this first attempt at taking his life because he was a Christian, he then stood on a step as the Emperor passed by and denounced the emperor’s cruelty. And then he was beaten to death.
I don’t know about you, but I think if my life had been threatened once–if I had been brought to the point of death, and then lived–I don’t think I would go back out into the public. I mean he had done his work–he had shown himself to be Christian, and not given that up, been willing to die and then lived! I think he deserved to serve the Church in a more quiet, underground way. I have never been shot with an arrow (let alone several), but I am guessing that it is probably is quite painful–and he was assumed to be dead so he must have been in pretty bad shape. He endured an incredible amount of pain, of suffering.
But he wasn’t afraid. Or if he was, he didn’t let that stop him. He went right back and did what he thought was right–knowing from experience what the consequences would be.
That’s courage. Suffering, or the fear of suffering, didn’t stop him. Suffering didn’t stand in his way. He seemed to not even think twice about doing whatever God asked. He said, “bring it on!”
My guess is that he had a pretty good grasp on the idea that this life is not our permanent home, that Heaven is what really matters. To him death was gain as St. Paul expressed as well.
I think courage is the virtue that has given me the ability to stand–yes, on wobbly legs–in the midst of the trial. Courage is what has given me the ability to stare in the face of this life I didn’t choose or want and to go on. Okay, so its not putting my life on the line. Okay, so I’m not even choosing to put myself out the way Sebastian did. I am not that brave. But I am brave enough to say, “OK.’
OK, God. Whatever you have for me.
My strength and my courage is the Lord . . . .Isaiah 12:2
This photo was taken from “Summer Saint Days” where a group of friends get together to teach our kids about different saints. After the lesson on Saint Sebastian, I asked the kids to write down what virtues they saw in him.