St Elizabeth of Hungary

Widow (entered heaven in 1231)

Dear Liza,

Your last note was alarming.  Shocking. Disturbing. It has thrown me into severe agitation.  If I had a window in this cursed cubicle, I would be screaming my frustrations out through it right now, but since I don’t, I’ll just have to write you back.

How could you make a decision to “delay the wholehearted pursuit of holiness until after graduation”?!!!???!!!???  WHO HAS BEEN WHISPERING DEVILISH LIES IN YOUR EAR???!! That’s like saying, “Oh. I know that this little green pill is the secret to total fulfillment and happiness, and I know God sent it to me from heaven, but I’m really not hungry right now, so I think I’ll just leave it for later.”  It’s positively INANE! Holiness is not an option, my pert young niece; holiness is an obligation! Either you get holy, or you go to hell. I am sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the truth. Of course, the devil knows this, so I am sure he is extremely gratified with your decision in favor of the latter.  I know you will object by saying you are only DELAYING the pursuit of holiness. Yah, right. Don’t make the devil laugh. Consciously deciding to put God on the back burner is consciously deciding to turn off the light; once you do that, there’s a very big chance that you won’t ever be able to find the light switch again to turn it back on.  

I have a feeling I know why you are flirting with this HARROWINGLY FOOLISH decision: you think holiness is too hard, too demanding, too far away.  It’s not. Trust me. Well, OK, don’t trust me; trust someone closer in age to yourself; trust today’s saint, who died in holiness when she was only 23 years old.

As an infant, St Elizabeth of Hungary was betrothed to Count Ludwig of Thuringia, and she was sent to live in his castle when she was only four years old (he was ten at the time).  They grew up together and Ludwig became more enamored of her the better he got to know her. When he turned 21, they were wed. It was the perfect Christian marriage. She, as eyewitnesses relate, was “perfect in body, handsome, of a dark complexion; serious in her ways, and modest, of kindly speech, fervent in prayer and most generous to the poor, always full of goodness and divine love,” and he was wise, well-tempered, good-looking, patient and truthful, and loved both by his people and his fellow nobles.  After they were married, Elizabeth began an energetic work of service to the poor and sick in the province, building a hospital at the foot of their castle-mountain, feeding nine hundred poor people daily at the castle gate (plus providing for many others throughout the region), and generally disposing of their royal patrimony with generous but prudent Christian charity. Ludwig, unlike so many other husbands of saintly women, put no obstacles in Elizabeth’s path of prayer and mercy, confident that her virtue would bring God’s blessings upon his family and his realm, and they grew closer as their marriage matured.  The future was very bright.

But when Elizabeth was expecting their third child, Ludwig heeded the Pope’s call and joined Emperor Frederick II on a new crusade.  He died some months later of the plague. When the news reached Germany, Elizabeth was devastated. She cried out, “The world is dead to me, and all that was joyous in the world,” and she ran maniacally around the castle shrieking with grief.  Soon afterward, her in-laws forcibly removed her from the castle and she and her children spent some time bopping from relative to relative until she decided to renounce the world, join the third order of Franciscans, and spend the remainder of her life in full-time service of Christ in his poor.  She parried multiple and attractive offers of marriage (including one from the emperor himself), took the Franciscan habit, continually shocked her fellow nobles by her austerities and selfless devotion to those in need, and wore herself out by her ceaseless prayer and charitable activity, such that her health broke and she passed away before turning 24.

So that shows you that holiness is possible for someone your age.  All it takes is the decision to make Christ your first priority. HE WILL TAKE CARE OF THE REST!  I expect to hear back from you within 48 hours. In the meantime, I am going to do some serious penance for the good of your soul.

Your devoted uncle, Eddy

P.S. And STOP TALKING TO THAT IDIOTIC ENGLISH PROFESSOR who is only trying to justify his own immoral indulgences and is also, probably, trying to seduce you.  May God forgive him, and may God forgive me for wanting to send him to his judgment RIGHT NOW!

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