St Giles

Abbot (entered heaven around 720)

Dear Jill,

Well, there’s no use complaining.  You hurt your knee, you had the operation, and now you’ve got to recuperate.  It’s going to take time. It will be painful, probably. And most likely you’ll miss the whole volleyball season.  Those are the facts, my dear niece, and there’s no use in trying to change them.

I can understand why you feel a bit depressed about them.  But, can I be frank? If you let those feelings of depression take over, you’ll be acting like a pagan.  As a Christian, you know that the God in charge of your life is loving and all-powerful. He’s even more interested in your happiness than you are (I know, that’s hard to fathom, but it’s true).  So if he permitted this disturbance in your plans, there must be a reason. Knowing you as well as I do, I would venture to say that the reason is plain enough. He wants you to learn the lesson that today’s saint learned.

Giles came from a wealthy, aristocratic family.  He grew up in Greece, and put his considerable natural talents to work in pursuit of holiness.  It seemed he was pretty successful. While still young, he became known for his learning and his piety.  And when his parents died, he showed that his virtue was more than a mere façade, using his inherited fortune to serve the poor.  

By then, his fame and popularity were making life a bit difficult.  He really wanted to pursue prayer, silence, and sacrifice, to be dedicated completely to the contemplation of God.  But honors and recognition wouldn’t leave him alone. Finally he moved. He went to France and found a cave to live in.  There he was able to focus on God. He lived off wild herbs and deer’s milk, and spent several years in solitary prayer, learning the wisdom that only God can teach.

Eventually he was discovered, however, when the king’s hunting party chased a doe into his cave, where the frightened creature sought protection from its pursuers.  They shot an arrow into the thorn bush that hid the opening of the cave, but instead of hitting their quarry, they hit Giles, right in the leg. The saint begged them to leave him to heal alone, but the king would have none of it.  He allowed the saint to stay in the cave, but insisted on attending to him and his needs. And that was the end of his solitude. From then on his fame spread once again – needy souls flocked to him for guidance and for the miracles that spread in his wake.  Eventually the king built a monastery nearby and made St Giles abbot. A town grew up around the monastery, a place where the poor could find respite.

God’s plan was to make Giles a fountain of light and grace for a whole generation of suffering, needy people (in eighth-century France life was short, hard and unstable).  But Giles had to take some time to be with God in order to fill up his spiritual reservoir so that the plan could come to fruition. I can’t help thinking that your current situation, with the surprise interruption in your oh-so-busy schedule, is God’s way of inviting you to give him a bit more attention, so that his plan for your life will be sure to unfold.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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