St Helen

Widow (entered heaven some time around 330)

Dear Helene,

I detect a bit of remorse in your last note, as if you regret your coming back to the Church at such a late date.  I will admit that had you been taking Christ seriously since the beginning of your college career, you (and everyone around you) would have benefited considerably, and maybe you would have avoided some of the regrets you have accumulated.  But why dwell on the bad?  You have one year of college left, and then the whole rest of your life; if you fill the former with Christ, he will fill the latter with meaning and joy.  Take a lesson from today’s saint.

Helen was an innkeeper’s daughter, who caught the fancy of a Roman General named Constantius. They married, and she gave birth to a son.  Soon afterwards, Constantius was named Caesar and divorced her in favor of a more “respectable” union with the Emperor’s daughter.  Eventually, however, Helen’s son Constantine succeeded his father as Caesar, and then occupied the Imperial throne.  Attributing his successes to the intervention of Jesus Christ, Constantine began receiving catechetical instruction and promulgated the Edict of Milan, establishing tolerance for Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.  Though already in her sixties, Helen followed her son’s lead, and became a Christian.  So deeply did the faith take root in her soul that she did more for the Church in her last twenty years of life than most do in eighty.  She set a public example of piety and prayer by attending Mass in dignified but plain clothes, unlike the other noble ladies, who took advantage of such occasions to flaunt their beauty and their expensive wardrobes.  She supervised the construction of churches and shrines at the holy sites in Rome and in Palestine, rediscovering many ancient relics, like the cross of Christ’s crucifixion.  And wherever she went, her attention to the poor and reverence for priests and religious edified even the most cynical Romans.

So you see, my newly confirmed niece, late starts don’t have to make bad starts.

God bless,

Uncle Eddy

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