St Anthony and Theodosius Pechersky

Abbots of the Caves of Kiev (in the Ukraine, between Russia and Poland) (entered heaven in 1073 and 1074)

Dear Anne,

Glad to hear that the band is doing well.  Must be exciting to travel from town to town and play to live audiences instead of to the rakes hanging in the garage.  I hope things continue to go well.

You always did love music.  You used to spend hours banging away at the piano (although you wailed and cried severely when your mother tried to get you to take lessons)…  And then began the first years of your CD collection. Is it still growing? When you graduated from high school you proudly displayed almost 1000 discs to me, and you knew them all by heart.  That’s when I first started to worry. Don’t get me wrong, music is a beautiful thing, a great gift from God, and to appreciate it is to give him glory. Nevertheless, as all good things, it too tends to become an idol in this fallen world.  I had a college friend whose sole pleasure and refuge was his music; everything else took second place. It was almost as if he was addicted to it. He spent all his money buying discs, and then when he had to pay a phone bill or an electric bill he would sell back some of them to a used music dealer.  Anyway, I am not saying that your love for music is excessive. But if you ever notice yourself using your music as a way of escaping from the challenges and duties of life, consider it a warning sign; God’s gifts are meant to enhance us, not cripple us. Which reminds me of an anecdote about one of today’s saints.

These two monks fathered monasticism in recently evangelized Russia.  Anthony had traveled to the famous Greek monastery on Mt Athos to learn how to be a monk, and had then returned to begin a monastic life in his native Kiev (in modern-day Ukraine), in a small cave near the river Dnieper.  Soon he attracted a following and the community grew rapidly. One of his early disciples would later become the great organizer and codifier of the monastery; his name was Theodosius. Anthony preferred solitude, silence, and rigorous austerity; Theodosius preferred deep contemplation coupled with enthusiastic, active works of charity.  He used to care for the sick and dying monks in the morning – washing them and feeding them, cleaning their linens and tending to their needs – and then eat supper with the Russian nobles, exhorting them to rule as Christ would in their place. On one of his trips to the palace, dinner was followed by a beautiful musical performance by the King’s minstrels.  The saint enjoyed it immensely, just as everyone else did, but then he absentmindedly posed the King a question that silenced the worldly gathering: “Sir, will it sound the same in the life to come?”

And that’s the question you should keep in mind.  Who knows if your musical career will take off, but whether it does or not, the most important thing remains your relationship with God, and putting all your talents at the service of his Kingdom.  So while you are enjoying the warmth of the spotlight and reverberations of your dulcet voice in the amplifier, be praising the Lord in your heart, be singing for him.

Melodiously yours, Uncle Eddy

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