by Fr. John A. Peck
I’m reposting this in honor of St. Martinian’s Day tomorrow.
I live in the northern most part of Phoenix, AZ.
One thing I can tell you – there are two temperatures: Hot and Very Hot. Very Hot is not nice. It is not enjoyable. It is not bearable.
I’m a son of the North. I grew up with Michigan snows, I attended Michigan State in East Lansing, and married a girl from Alma, MI (these get progressively more northern, for those not from Michigan). Finally, I went to Theological seminary in Alaska. And loved it. That probably tells you everything about me regarding my favorite weather zones.
My recent move to north Phoenix was miserable. During an extreme heat warning (imagine what kind of heat that is in Arizona for a warning to be posted), I and my wife had to move from Prescott, AZ to our current digs. Thanks be to God for Kenny and Ty, living machines and apparently all but impervious to the hellish sun and oven air we had to unload in. I confess, for the first time ever during one of my moves, I had to rest. Ty and Kenny, more acclimated to such indecency, marched on, seemingly unfazed by what was killing me. For their manly endurance, I have only admiration, thanks and praise.
During my self-imposed break, and before I started to verbally whine, I was reminded of the words of St. Martinian.
St. Martinian (Feb. 13) was an ascetic hermit, who lived not far from the city of Caesarea in Palestine. For twenty-five years, he devoted himself to ascetic deeds and silence, and he was granted the gift of healing illnesses and casting out demons. Once a profligate woman made a wager with some dissolute people that she could seduce St. Martinian, the fame of whose virtuous life had spread throughout all the city. She came to him one night, during a terrible storm, and pretending that she had lost her way, she asked for shelter. The saint let her enter. He went into his room and locked the door. The wicked guest changed into fine clothes awaiting the chance to lure him to his fall.
When morning came, St. Martinian came out of his room, excused himself, asked the woman to wait inside while he went out to start a fire. Within minutes, the profligate woman heard screaming outside. When she emerged from his dwelling, she saw him there, holding his feet in the blazing fire. When, in her shock, she asked what he was doing, he replied,
If I cannot endure this heat, how will I endure the fires of hell?
I asked myself the same question.
There’s hot. There’s very hot. And then there’s hell. St. Martinian knew his limits and took instant action against the temptation and weakness of his flesh. I can make provisions for the heat right now – it won’t kill me. Hopefully, it will remind me.
What are you willing to endure, rather than face the horrors of hell?