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Abbot (entered heaven on this day in 716)
You’re acting like a buffoon. I hope it’s only a mellow and temporary case of sophomore slump. It’s good to hear that you feel “volcanic desires to do great things for Christ”, but it’s not so good to hear that you are neglecting your studies because of those desires. My impulsive nephew, remember that the greatest thing we can do for the Lord is to fulfill his will with all the love we can muster. And right now, one of the primarily tasks on the list of his will for you is your university education. Why not throw yourself into your studies with as much vigor as you daydream about throwing yourself into other things? The devil would love to distract you so much with apparently good desires that you waste your college years building castles in the sky. Don’t gratify him. Take a lesson from today’s saint instead.
Ceolfrid was a temperamental character as well. He was related to St Benedict of Biscop, whom he joined in the foundation of St Peter’s monastery in Wearmouth (northern England). At first he served the community as cook. He was made prior briefly, but was so strict that he had to be removed. He continued his life of prayer and self-discipline, trying his best to exceed all his brother monks in humility and generosity – which meant fervent dedication to prayer, work, and study. He accompanied St Benedict to Rome on a pilgrimage of devotion and education. When he returned, Benedict sent him and a dozen other monks to found another monastery (St Paul’s) not too far from St Peter’s. Ceolfrid was put in charge. Having grown in prudence through growth in holiness, he executed this assignment with alacrity and efficacy, though all the while he would have preferred to continue living a nondescript life of anonymity and silence.
Soon afterwards, Benedict died, and Ceolfrid took over the headship of both monasteries. Under his leadership they thrived. They were models of religious discipline and scholarship, and he insured that their libraries were well-stocked and well-kept, while at the same time spreading good advice to all the secular leaders of the British Isles, who consulted him whenever they needed wise guidance. When he stepped down as Abbot due to old age and various aliments which, he felt, inhibited him from giving the kind of example an Abbot should give to his monks, both communities (a total of 600 religious by then) got down on their knees and begged him to stay, but he refused. Instead, he appointed a worthy successor and went on a pilgrimage to Rome, during which he fell ill and died at the ripe old age of 74, having served the Lord as Abbot for 35 years.
The road to holiness and fulfillment is paved by fidelity to God’s will in the here-and-now of your life. For Ceolfrid, that here-and-now included a few small acres of British soil and the walls of his monastery, where he changed the course of the whole history of Christendom through sinking deep foundations of Christian culture into a world soon to be devastated by pagan barbarians. For you, it means keep first things first – and I am confident that you know what I mean.
Your loving uncle, Eddy