St Chrodegang

Bishop of Metz (northeastern France) (entered heaven this day in 766)

Dear Rhoda,

Your defeatist attitude is unworthy of you.  You must never, ever underestimate the impact that one person can have on the world – either for good or for ill.  To consider your efforts at campus evangelization worthless is to insult the love and power of God; to give them up is to grant victory to the devil.  “Onward, Christian soldier!” should be your motto both now and for the rest of your college days, as well as in the adventure of your life to come. Today’s saint proves my point.

The man was born of humble estate, but received an excellent education at an abbey in Belgium (of course, it wasn’t called Belgium back then).  His intelligence, prudence, charm, and extraordinary good looks won him everyone’s favor, and the great Christian leader Charles Martel (Charlemagne’s grandfather) hired him on as personal secretary.  When Martel died, the able Chrodegang, still a layman, was ordained and consecrated bishop of Metz. Thus began an ecclesiastical career that extended from diplomatic missions between the Frankish kings and the Pope, to the building and restoration of churches, monasteries, and charitable institutions, to the widespread reform of the clergy.  This last point is what I want to focus on.

The education and discipline of the clergy had suffered tremendously from the barbarian invasions of the sixth and seventh centuries.  Chrodegang knew that the health of the whole Church depended on arresting this decline. He came up with a good idea and courageously implemented it.  He required the clergy of his cathedral to follow a community schedule, meeting together every day to pray the psalms and to listen to a chapter from the rule of community living that he had composed.  This began to bring order to their lives, so he extended the requirement to all the clergy in his diocese. Instead of lone-ranger priests, therefore, he began to form a tight-knit brotherhood of Christian apostles.  His personal holiness added credibility to this new arrangement, which spread quickly throughout the Frankish territories (France and Germany) and even into the Italian peninsula. It was the start of a clerical reform that reinforced the Church from within, enabling it to resist the strain it would have to undergo in the face of the next series of barbarian invasions.

One man’s idea: a continent’s salvation.  And he is not the only case. So don’t despair; don’t crawl into a comfortable and selfish cocoon of merely personal goals and projects; God needs you to be out there finding creative ways to build up your Catholic community and re-evangelize college culture.

God bless.  Uncle Eddy.

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