St Ado

Archbishop of Vienne, France (entered heaven on this day, 875)

Dear Adelaide,

Bored?  You’re BORED?!?!  OK.  If you say it, I can’t doubt it.  You wouldn’t be lying about something like that.  But in all honesty I can certainly not suppress my shock.  There must be something deeper going on here.  I smell the sulfuric smoke of the devil wafting through your vacation.  From this distance, I can’t tell much, but if I had to bet I would say you have fallen into routine in your prayer life.  Same old prayers, just going through the motion, no life, no verve, no passion.  Right?  Well, now’s the perfect time to break out of the routine.  Make some kind of pilgrimage; help the kids in your parish get ready for the Christmas liturgies; direct a Christmas play… DO SOMETHING!  Don’t just sit there making yourself a target for temptation.  Maybe it would be enough to adopt the secret of today’s saint.

He had a remarkable life.  Born to one of the most illustrious Frankish families of his epoch, his devout and prudent parents were determined that he should receive an exemplary education not only in academics but also in Christian living.  Accordingly, they put him under the tutelage of the holy Abbot Sigulph and his comrades in the famous and respectable abbey of Ferrières, not far from home.  Ado responded marvelously to the life of study, work, and prayer, and developed his extraordinary natural talents to the highest degree.  The ideal of Christ and the Kingdom filled him with such vigor that he himself decided to forgo the incomparably promising career his family ties guaranteed him, along with the many comforts and pleasures it was sure to afford, and took the monastic habit.  Soon after, things got tough.

He was sent as professor to the monastery of Prom, where he fulfilled his duties with verve and efficacy.  Although his young students were devoted and grateful, however, he inspired envy among some of his peers.  And when the abbot died, they instigated a campaign of slander that ended in Ado’s being expelled from the monastery.  Parrying despair and confusion, he took a pilgrimage to Rome (not a bad idea at all), where he visited the tombs of the Apostles.  He went on to Ravenna, where he published a revised version of the Roman Martyrology.  He also wrote more detailed biographies of saints, and even a chronicle of world history – in short, he didn’t waste his free time.  Eventually he was invited to take over a parish in the diocese of Vienne.  Once again his zeal, humility, and pastoral charity won him admiration, and eventually he was appointed Archbishop of that See, where for fifteen years he worked an almost miraculous reform of faith and morals among his clergy and lay faithful alike.

His secret?  Doing what you’re doing at this very moment: he never stopped nourishing his faith on the examples of holiness found in the lives of the saints.  Reading their anecdotes, writings, and biographies was his favorite and unchanging pastime.  He would get ideas from them and apply them to his own situation, and thus he kept his spiritual life fresh.  I am sure that if you do the same (and don’t just settle for my emails, but read one or two full-fledged biographies every year – start with St Theresa of Avila’s autobiography; you have always reminded me of her), you won’t fall into routine again.

Your loving uncle,


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