Well, here’s one for the record books… Saint Ardalion; an actor who converted from his pagan ways and became a saint. With the way things are in Hollywood, it would seem that we should implore this holy saint for many of our modern ‘movie stars.’ Even though he is often referred to as a jester or a mime, his role was one of entertaining and Ardalion was one of the more talented actors towards the end of the third century…. It is clear, that he had a way of drawing large crowds…and pleasing them with his antics. Unfortunately, it is also clear that in our present age… few if any of our ‘favorite movie stars’ have even heard of him or implored him for his guidance.
One day the talented actor decided to lay it all on the line…he’d scripted his own play… One that showed the reality of the persecution that Christians were facing at the time, a play that highlighted the courage these Christians embodied in order to endure the torture and the punishments that were being waged against them. Unbeknownst to the pagan spectators and the Provincial Ruler, who was present along with other important State Officials, Ardalion had recently converted to Christianity and had chosen to write and act this show as to a means of trying to convert the crowds that had gathered to watch his performance… he was using his talents…his gifts, for God… and not against Him.
You see, Ardalion had been a pagan like everyone else. He had renounced Christ and made sacrificial offerings to false gods. But one day as he was ‘acting’ the part of a Christian in a play that mocked the pain and suffering of these brave men and women, God stirred in his heart. His conversion was almost instantaneous. God filled him with a courage and a bravery that he had not known. And later when he had written and was preparing himself to perform his own ‘play,’ it is almost certain that he prayed to God for courage and prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance…. as it was an all or nothing kind of moment for him… The kind of moment that separates the saints from the rest of us…He had given his heart to God…and the rest of his body went with it…there was no turning back for that kind of inspiration. It is that powerful.
During his performance he reenacted the bravery of the Christians, who were refusing to submit to the government. His portrayal was done with such natural emotion and conviction that many in the crowd were moved to compassion for the plight of the Christian. At one point, the crowds was so overcome that they loudly declared their admiration for his artistic talents…and begged for more. Later, as he was suspended from a wooden torture device that hung him high above the crowd…they became feverish with excitement… they couldn’t believe what they were seeing…it was so realistic, that he almost had them believing in what they were witnessing…The crowds erupted wildly… so much so, that Ardalion ordered all to calm down… he ordered them to be silent. And then in front of an auditorium full of pagans and state sponsored ‘henchmen,’ he declared himself to be a true Christian.
He explained to them that he was converted..and that his heart belonged to Christ. He assured them that he would no longer obey the government’s forced paganism. He told them that he would no longer renounce the Lord. The governor was a fan of Ardalion’s and didn’t want to punish him, so he contradicted the statements that Ardalion had made, and assured the crowd that it was just a misunderstanding… he assured the crowd that the actor was just playing a ‘role’ and that Ardalion would come to his senses and continue his pagan ways. He was sure that Ardalion would renounce Christ once this performance was over, and once he had calmed down. Not wanting to punish such a star as Ardalion, he assured those who were gathered, that surely he would continue to make sacrifices to the pagan gods. But Ardalion was filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, and he continued to confess his faith in Christ. This outraged the governor, who in front of the large crowds who had just praised Ardalion, ordered that Ardalion be thrown onto a red-hot iron, and killed. His play was the final act of this brave actor turned saint, and the outrage over his conversion resulted in his death. And instead of winning some golden award, he won the red crown of martyrdom and gained for himself a spot in heaven. Let us pray.
Dear Lord , Please inspire in each of us the same courage you gave to Ardalion, so that if ever we are faced with anything that contradicts You or Your Holy Catholic Church, that we may stand in the face of such contradiction, speaking the Truth and living our life for You and Your Glory…in all things….big and small alike, conforming our will to the Divine. Amen.