St Gall

Bishop of Clermont (central France) (entered heaven this day in 551)

Dear Chloe,

How is life in the library?  The best teacher I ever had once told me that the three most important people to make friends with at any good-sized institution are the cook, the secretary, and the librarian (advice I followed religiously until my capture a little while ago – it served me quite well, as a matter of fact).  Now you will actually be one of the three. I just hope they have you doing more than shelving books (and even if they do have you doing that, I am confident that you will use your resourceful spirit of initiative to take full advantage of the opportunities that this summer job/internship is affording you; whatever you do, DON’T LOAF!  Idle hands really are the devil’s playground, you know). On a more somber note, I was disappointed to hear of your father’s reaction when you told him you want to spend August in the missions. It’s understandable, of course; he knows your potential and (I am sure) has long been imagining all the worldly comforts and glory it could bring you.  From his perspective, fame, wealth, and a good husband are the ingredients for perfect happiness. Only your prayer and your example of Christian joy will warm him up to your more spiritual priorities. Don’t worry. If you continue to be faithful to God’s will (in big things, but also in little things – even shelving books can give him glory, as did Christ’s making bookshelves in Joseph’s carpenter shop), God’s grace will take care of your dad.  You know, that reminds me of today’s saint.

Gall was the son of an ambitious Frenchman, who took meticulous care of his son’s education.  When Gall had come of age, the father arranged his marriage to a prominent senator’s daughter, thereby hoping to climb a bunch of rungs on the social ladder in one giant step.  But Gall had already heard the call to serve the Church; he had resolved to consecrate his life to God alone. So, instead of marrying the finest lady in town, he fled to a nearby monastery and begged permission to enter.  The abbot granted it – on one condition: that he obtain his father’s approval. Imagine how the young Gall felt as he retraced his steps. What humiliation! What anxiety! But the cause of the Lord prevailed, and his father gave him the green light.  Not much later the local bishop noticed his promise and ordained him deacon, sending him as an episcopal representative to King Theodoric’s court. A few years later Gall was appointed bishop himself and pastored his flock with extraordinary prudence, humility, and zeal.  He was especially noteworthy for his meekness. For example, when a senator-turned-cleric (Evodius was his name) violently insulted him (Gall was already bishop at the time), Gall made no response at all, but serenely rose from his chair and left the room to make a round of visits to his churches.  Evodius was so stricken with remorse at having accosted such a gentle and self-effacing man that he ran after the saintly bishop and knelt before him right there in the dirty street in order to ask pardon.

The point is, of course, that there is no better way to fulfill the fourth commandment (“honor your father and mother”) than by striving above all to please God; indeed, if you become the saint that God wants you to, your parents will get extra credit for increasing the Church’s holiness quotient, even if unwittingly.

With hopes and prayers, Uncle Eddy

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