As I heard the Gospel proclaimed today at Mass, I sympathized for the poor woman caught in adultery. While I certainly do not approve of her sin, to stand there before, as St. John seems to hint at, all these oogling men ready to destroy her for her crime is beyond humiliation.
Yet, Matt Swaim sends along the story of those who willing took on that humiliation in later years, so that they may be known as Christians, as told by Mike Aquilina:
A subsection covers what the authors call "humiliating names." These names, they explain, "were sometimes used by some faithful as a life-long act of modesty, precisely because of their unpleasant significance . . . This is the case of Proiectus and Proiecticus, which meant ‘exposed,’ and the unpleasant Stercorius, [which] can be understood as ‘abandoned in the garbage.’ . . . At the Catacomb of Pretestato, one of them was in fact named Stercorinus."
The authors are being polite. Stercorius means, literally, "crap." It’s most accurately translated by what kids call "the S-word." Thus, Stercorinus (the diminutive) means "Little S***," or "Dear S***."
Why would Christians bear such a name? It is likely that these particular Romans were, as infants, rescued from the dungheap-the place where Romans abandoned "defective" or female newborns. They were exposed there, like trash, to die quickly from the elements or the claws of the scavenging beasts. After all, as the pagan philosopher Seneca said: "What is good must be set apart from what is good-for-nothing."
I admire those who are willing to undertake such bold moves to witness to their faith in Christ. And the great thing, it is still happening. There are those who suffer persecution and insult, lies and ridicule because of Christ. I know, I've faced it, to a small degree. Yet, He who submitted and was silent before the slaughter gives those who face similar trials to be strong in their witness, to overcome their weakness (because we are all weak!), so that His glory may shine through our lives.