St Germanus of Auxerre

(central France) bishop (entered heaven in 371)

Dear Gerise,

I am glad to hear that your little business is not so little anymore; it is gratifying to see my young niece show such ingenuity and determination.  Most young men and women your age wait for good things to happen to them; you have learned to be the instigator of good things. Congratulations.

I often wonder why we don’t apply the same creative energy to our efforts at spreading Christ’s Kingdom, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.  After all, the results of a successful project of evangelization (the salvation of even one soul) far outweigh the results of the most successful business project (an increase of material prosperity for a large number of people).  When I think of our Church’s great saints, like today’s saint, for instance, I can’t help wondering how many Catholics through the centuries could have been great saints if only they had applied their economic or political shrewdness to the work of building up the Kingdom.

Germanus, born in central France, began his brilliant political career by studying law in Rome, where he married and was subsequently appointed the governor of the outlying Roman provinces in Gaul (that’s what they called France back then).  He was such a popular and successful governor, that when the bishop of the diocese died, the people clamored for Germanus to be appointed his successor, which, much against his personal preferences, he was (in those days, bishops were not only spiritual fathers, but in many cases, they looked after their people’s temporal welfare as well).  Immediately, out of a deep sense of obligation to fulfill his new position worthily, he changed his life style, spending his personal fortune as well as his time in beautifying churches and serving the poor. Soon the Pope sent him and another bishop (St Lupus) on a special mission to root out the Pelagian heresy from Great Britain. (That’s the heresy that denies original sin and the necessity of grace for salvation.)  Through tireless preaching, numerous miracles, and the example of his undying charity, St Germanus helped win Britain’s Christians back to the true faith. A few years later, however, the heresy made a comeback, and Germanus was sent back to finish the job. This time he obliterated the heresy completely, converting its propagators and establishing schools for clergy in order to insure lasting purity of the faith. On this trip, he was invited to be chaplain to the British army, which was engaged in a defensive campaign against the ferocious Scots.  Germanus spent his time catechizing the pagan soldiers, until the vast majority decided to receive baptism at Easter.

Soon thereafter, Germanus also came to their military rescue, gathering the small British force in a hidden mountain valley near a field where the advancing Scots were about to appear.  When they showed up, the saint led his soldiers in a booming cry of “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia,” which the valley walls so amplified as to give the impression that the Brits were a vast army.  The Scots dropped their weapons and fled for their lives – a complete victory without the shedding of blood. Till the end, Germanus marshaled all his worldly wisdom in the service of his otherworldly mission, becoming one of Europe’s most popular and effective evangelizers of all time.

I guess we should pray that the best leaders of our great society get appointed bishops, right?  Or perhaps it will be enough if the leaders of tomorrow, like yourself, decide to channel their spirit of initiative not only into secular affairs, but into all affairs – especially the everlasting ones.

Love, Uncle Eddy

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