St Gummarus

(entered heaven in 774)

Dear Gomer,

You do seem to have terrible luck with roommates.  Of course, perhaps your roommate is saying the same thing (we all tend to see quite clearly the “speck” in our neighbor’s eye, though a “board” is stuck in our own).  In any case, I would encourage you to quit whining and start working.  If all you want in life is the illusion of being on a perpetual vacation where everything is always hunky dory, then go ahead and ask for a new room assignment.  But if you conceive of your life as it really is – a mission, an opportunity to build virtue in your own heart and win souls for Christ’s Kingdom – then you will relish the chance this year is giving you to grow in patience, self-discipline, and charity.  Perhaps you could take today’s saint as your patron for the year; he knows what you’re going through – a similar dilemma catapulted him into the upper echelons of holiness.

Gummarus was a nobleman who grew up in the court of the Frankish King Pepin the Short (Charlemagne’s dad).  The young man was noteworthy for his sense of responsibility, even in his smallest duties, and the king rewarded him by arranging a marriage with a woman of noble birth named Guinimaria.  Unfortunately, the lady’s beauty was only skin-deep.  She was “extravagant and perverse in her ways, cruel, capricious and altogether unteachable,” as one biographer has put it.  From that moment on, the saint lived under the shadow of ceaseless “roommate” problems, trying to keep Guinimaria happy and to counteract her abusive treatment of their vassals, servants, and everyone else in a three-mile radius.  His only respite was a nine-year stint on campaign with King Pepin’s army.  Usually men are sorry to leave their wives behind to go to war, but Gummarus was sorry to come back: Guinimaria had thrown the entire estate into chaos, terrifying, oppressing, and impoverishing all of their dependants.  Gummarus nobly made restitution and put things back in order.  Guinimaria was so impressed by his patience and justice that for a brief spell she seemed to repent of her shrewish ways, but soon relapsed.  Gummarus did his best to win her back to Christian decency, but to no avail.  Finally he was forced into retirement, where he spent his final days in prayer and penance.

The trick, my dear nephew, is to see things from God’s perspective: the world viewed this medieval match as unconditionally unhappy, but through it Gummarus drew intimately close to the Lord and became a saint.  Your current residential arrangement could very well be a tactical maneuver of the Holy Spirit, who’s hoping that you’ll use it as a spur to deepen your prayer life and develop your virtue.  Don’t let him down.


Uncle Eddy

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