St Felix of Valois

Confessor and Co-Founder of the Trinitarians (entered heaven November 4th, 1212)

Dear Fred,

You mustn’t be discouraged by your small beginnings.  Remember the mustard seed, my dear nephew. If your group is growing slowly, redouble your prayer and focus your efforts on whatever will be most effective in helping it grow.  Be fervent in your faith and practical in your action. Maybe the example of today’s saint can give you a psychological boost.

Felix was a lot like you.  He came from an upper-class family, had an exemplary education, and a sensitive, deep soul.  When just a young man, however, he renounced his place in the world, giving up his fortune, and headed into seclusion in the forests of Cerfroi.  In other words, be became a hermit. So while his buddies were basking in the ample pleasures of High Medieval High Society, he was training his soul and disciplining his body so as to love God more fully.  He was happy. His joy was contagious. He became a well-known figure – the holy hermit of Cerfrois – and a steady stream of visitors approached him to implore his guidance and returned extolling his love.

He lived there till he was 70, and planned on dying there too, but God had other plans.  One day he was visited by a younger man, St John of Matha, who had left Paris precisely to put himself under the spiritual mentorship of Felix.  The two formed a small community and advanced together in holiness. When John was finally ordained and celebrated his first Mass, he received an inspiration which he thought came from the Holy Spirit: to start a religious order dedicated to buying back Christian slaves and prisoners.  He asked Felix to join him. For three days they prayed and sacrificed, begging God to let them know if this was truly His idea. They concluded that it was, and, though Felix was already an old man, they set out to present their request to the Pope.

All went well, and St John established houses for the new order in Rome, while Felix established the motherhouse in Cerfroi, only a couple miles from the two hermits’ humble cells.  A mere forty years after the foundation, when both Co-Founders had long since been called to their heavenly reward, the Trinitarian Order had blossomed into more than 600 communities throughout Europe.

Aren’t these saint stories strange?  They seem so to me anyway, which clearly shows how small and fragile my faith is.  Nevertheless, I am keeping your efforts in my prayers, and I am sure that if you persevere, depending always more on God than on yourself, they will be fruitful beyond your wildest imaginings.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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