View all Uncle Eddy | May 28, 2020
St Germanus of Paris
(entered heaven this day in 576)
Just because this year’s evangelizing efforts didn’t produce as many visible results as last year’s is no reason to pout. Progress from God’s point of view is often not the same as progress from our point of view. Do you trust in God? Then be objective in your analysis: if you can improve your strategy or tactics in your program for next year, do so, and leave the fruits of this year in the hands of Providence. I know it’s not so easy to do. You really wanted to increase attendance at Mass and at your mid-week Catholic Study Circle, and you didn’t. You are disappointed. That’s fine. I would expect you to be. But don’t let it knock you off course. Maybe the example of today’s saint will help keep things in perspective.
Germanus showed a lively interest in the spiritual life as a youth (he grew up in central France, near Autun), and discerned his vocation to the priesthood, which he pursued with eager dedication. His was soon made abbot of a nearby monastery, an office he fulfilled prodigiously.
A few years into it, he dreamt one night that an old man put into his hands the keys to the city of Paris, admonishing him to take care of the people of that city. He thought nothing of it at the time. But sometime later he found himself in that all-important French city, precisely when its bishop died. He was appointed successor, in spite of his tearful entreaties to the contrary.
Throughout the next 32 years he filled Paris (and all of France) with the light of authentic sanctity. His residence swarmed with the poor and destitute, whom he always served – even at this own table (and he would feed their souls as well as their stomachs, having a good spiritual book read aloud during meals). And his preaching moved countless sinners to repentance, turning the dissolute urban environment into a truly Christian culture. In fact, St Germanus was God’s primary instrument in the moral reform of King Childebert I, one of the four royal sons of Clovis.
Germanus turned the lascivious Childebert into a model Christian ruler, who endowed France with many of the monasteries and churches that steadily churned out saints for the next few hundred years.
Unfortunately, however, Childebert didn’t live too long (even though Germanus miraculously cured him from a mysterious illness). His successor, his brother Clothair, gave a rather cold welcome to the holy bishop, until he too was miraculously cured by Germanus’s intercession. From then on, Clothair too ruled as a Christian king ought to (he also reunited France under one monarch).
But Germanus outlived him as well, and Clothair’s four sons once more divided the Kingdom. Thus ensued one of the more shameful chapters of French history, in which the envy, greed, and lust that characterized these brothers and their wives wreaked moral havoc on the burgeoning Frankish people. And nothing Germanus did could stop it. Even his miracles couldn’t penetrate their moral destitution. By the time the saint died, Paris had returned to its licentious ways.
If even such a remarkable saint only batted around .500, why do you expect to bat 1.000? You are just one soldier on the great battlefield of history. Do your best to defend and extend your parcel of the Kingdom, and leave the overall results up to the Commander-in-Chief.
Your loving uncle,