St Bertilla

Virgin (entered heaven around 705)

Dear Bert,

Well, don’t get too worried about how things will work themselves out down the road; it’s good to plan ahead, but you should keep in mind that God may want things to turn out a bit differently than you think.  If that’s the case, stick with God’s suggestions and scrap your own plans – he’s got a much better track record.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you shouldn’t apply to graduate schools and interview for jobs and all that good stuff, I’m just saying that every time you send off an application or finish an interview, you should conclude with a sincere and heartfelt “Thy will be done – not mine” in the depths of your soul.  He, after all, is the artist; we are just the paintbrushes.  Which reminds me a bit of today’s saint.

Bertilla grew up in northern France, and as she came to know the ways of the world, she felt God calling her to leave it behind and dedicate herself exclusively to him and his Kingdom.  With the encouragement of her bishop, St Ouen, she entered the convent at a relatively young age (about your sister’s age, actually), and made rapid progress in the mysterious joys surrounding humility, purity, and a life of prayer.  When St Bathildis, Queen of the Franks, reestablished an abbey of nuns near the royal court, she asked Bertilla’s prioress to send a small group of fervent religious to give it a jumpstart, and St Bertilla was assigned to head up the team.  She ruled the abbey firmly, with strict discipline, but with such sweetness and charity that it swelled its ranks even more quickly than the convent she had left behind.  It attracted vocations from throughout Europe, in fact, including Queen Hereswitha, the widow of King Ethelhere of the East Angles, and even Queen Bathildis herself (once her husband had died and her son was old enough to govern), who learned the art of holiness under St Bertilla’s prudent hand.

And that’s my point.  This little peasant girl ended her days as the Mother Superior of a large number of nuns, including two Queens.  I am certain that none of the three had planned for that!  So keep up your prayer life and get ready for whatever roller coaster ride our Lord sees fit to send you on, even as you responsibly and carefully fulfill your normal duties.

Sincerely your uncle,


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