St Fursey

Abbot (entered heaven in 648)

Dear Ferdinand,

The excessive stress that you are always complaining about may have many different causes.  But whatever the cause, one spiritual exercise will surely diminish it: remembering heaven. Every Sunday we all go to Mass and dutifully profess our faith in eternal life and in a Kingdom that has no end, but the rest of the week we act as if this life were all there is.  We look for perfect peace and satisfaction in this passing, fragile, earthly existence. What a self-contradiction! Perhaps you should ask today’s saint for a special “stress-relief” intercession.

He was born of nobility in Ireland (it seems that everyone in ancient Ireland was born of nobility), and early on showed exceptional interpersonal and intellectual ability.  But he forsook the promising career ahead of him because he wanted to delve more deeply into the riches of sacred wisdom. He went off and erected a monastery in the wilderness, attracting a slew of disciples.  Much later, he returned home to share the graces he had received with his relatives, and there began a series of well-attested ecstasies and visions. On multiple occasions, his body would be rapt in cataleptic immobility (such that his companions more than once thought he had died and begun preparations for burial) while his soul engaged in instructive conversations with the angels.  Mostly, they would show him their view of the world, which consisted almost solely in the spiritual warfare raging between the devil and the Church, a warfare that, as they vividly showed him, took place in the conscience of every human being. They showed him the earth covered in a dark black haze (the power of the tempter, father of lies); they showed him huge fires blazing between earth and heaven (fires that purified or consumed souls who had forsaken their baptismal grace), and many other things as well.  Eyewitnesses related that when St Fursey described his visions, he would break out in a profuse sweat, even in the cold of winter. For this saint, the eternal trajectory of our earthly pilgrimage profoundly affected his daily life, providing a perspective that positively banished all vain and petty “stress.” I hope you can stir up your faith sufficiently to glimpse the same perspective, even if you aren’t graced with supernatural visions.

Your affectionate uncle, Eddy

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