Saint Vincent Ferrer

(entered heaven in 1419)

Dear Vinnie,

Let nothing deter you from following your vocation. If you think God may be calling you to be a Dominican, then go knock on the Dominicans’ door.  Your continual struggle with chastity means nothing. I will remind you of your namesake, the great Dominican preacher, St Vincent Ferrer, as energetic a Spaniard as there ever was.  Like you, he was an extraordinary youth, gifted with exceptional intelligence, deep faith, and devastating good looks. Early on in his vocation he met with remarkable success – prophecies, miracles, and huge numbers of conversions.  But he was also beset with temptations. The devil and his minions assailed him from within (unspeakable torments from the powers of darkness), while some women who had fallen for him assailed him from without (this was an age full of clerical infidelities, remember).  When he resisted their advances they lashed out in response, viciously slandering his unblemished reputation. What a trial it must have been! But he kept faith in his divine calling, and for the next forty years he was constantly on the move, preaching to immense crowds, from Turin (that’s in northern Italy, my geographically-challenged nephew) to Flanders, from Barcelona to Brittany, and everywhere in between.  Not only did he and his band of followers have to set aside “office hours” so he could miraculously heal the hundreds of sick and maimed who crowded around him, but God did wonders with his voice: when he preached, you could hear him clear as a bell at half a mile away (and this was before fancy sound engineering), and even though he only spoke Spanish and a tinge of Latin and Hebrew, Germans, Dutch, French, and Italians all understood his rousing sermons.  (His favorite sermon topic, by the way, was the fast-approaching Day of Judgment.) On one occasion, 8000 Muslims in Grenada (that’s in Spain, you know) asked to be baptized after hearing one of them. Eight thousand! And to top it all off, he was instrumental in ending the Great Schism (and if you don’t remember what that was, well… well… well you should remember!). So you see, when we focus on what God wants us to do, and not on how hard it may be to do it, truly great things can happen.  Happy Saint’s Day. Uncle Eddy.

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