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St Fulrad of St Denis
(near Paris, France) Abbot (entered heaven in 784)
I’m glad to hear that your first foray into politics is “dizzyingly exciting and immensely promising”. I have been telling you and your cousins for years that one of the most courageous and charitable decisions a young Catholic can make these days is to go into politics, committed to being a truly Christian civil servant – finally one of you has taken up the challenge! Will you allow your poor uncle to give a tiny bit of advice? It has to do with today’s saint.
Fulrad was born in northeastern France (Alsace) and early on discovered his vocation to become a priest in the Benedictine monastic order. He threw himself into his calling, and he showed a capacity not only for God, but also for administration, organization, and other fields requiring the virtue of prudence. He founded a few new monasteries, and his fame spread. It spread so much, in fact, that in 750 he was elected abbot of the famous monastery of St Denis (named after one of the first evangelizer’s of France), near Paris.
At the time, the Merovingian dynasty (Clovis and company) had dissipated, and the Carolingian’s were on the rise. These kings – Pepin, then his son Carloman, then the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne – showed great leadership and transformed the Frankish Kingdom into the first Christian Empire in the West, launching the great experiment of Christendom, which was destined to have such a profound effect on the development of Europe and, through Europe, the rest of the world.
But these great political leaders couldn’t rule by brawn and brains alone. They needed a heart, a soul. This they found in St Fulrad, who served all three rulers as councilor, chaplain, almoner (distributor of the royal finances), and ambassador. For more than 30 years he provided strong kings with Christian wisdom in order to help the great ship of state steer a steady, fruitful course. He never neglected his pursuit of holiness, but he gladly put that holiness at the service of the world around him.
And that’s my point. Don’t ever think you can do the great things your heart yearns to do all alone. You will need advisors and guides, wise friends whom you can trust to speak Christ’s truth to you when your power and responsibilities may make it hard to hear. By all means, pursue greatness in politics, but find yourself a Fulrad to make sure it’s always truly Great.
Your loving uncle,