St Irenaeus of Lyons

Bishop of Lyons (in southwestern France) (entered heaven around 203)

Dear Irene,

I can tell from your notes (which are very welcome, by the way; it is nice to know that someone besides God hasn’t forgotten about me) that you have a lot of free time on your hands this summer.  Probably because you got one of those cushy, air-conditioned office jobs due to your technical skills, and they don’t need you to do a lot of work, but the work that they need you to do they really need you to do.  Blessed be God for small favors.  Nevertheless, I can also tell from your notes (which are also very well written, by the way – quite similar in style to your mother’s writing) that you are spending WAY TOO MUCH TIME ON THE INTERNET!  Of course, it may sound hypocritical for me to say that, since I make generous use of email et alia in order to keep in the loop, but don’t be deceived by appearances. In any case, I remind you that time is one of the most precious resources we have been given; every moment can be spent either in doing something productive for the Kingdom (and thereby making an eternal investment), or not.  Those are the only options. And surfing as much as you have been doing, I dare to say, is not.

Why don’t you take a lesson from today’s saint?  Besides being a disciple of St Polycarp, who was a disciple of St John the Evangelist, intimate companion of Christ, and becoming the much-loved bishop of Lyons, Irenaeus single-handedly dealt a deathblow to Western Europe’s greatest heretical threat to early Christianity: Gnosticism.  I won’t go into details on the heresy (plenty of pamphlets that you can find in health food stores and yoga centers can do that), but I will mention how he defeated it. First of all he learned all about it. Now that was no easy task, considering that every Gnostic master propagated his own customized version of the heresy.  It took time, careful research, and intense mental acumen. Then he proceeded to write five full volumes outlining Gnosticism’s fundamental principles and cataloguing its variations. After describing each principle and each variation, he would point out its philosophical strengths and weaknesses (mostly the latter) and then present the true teaching of Christ and the Apostles on the same issue.  And every sentence was written in simple, clear, and pleasant prose so that the humblest reader or listener could easily understand it. In addition to protecting Christians from the heresy’s tantalizing errors, as soon as it was published, it put the poor Gnostics out of business, and, thanks be to God, brought a lot of them into the baptistery.

So, my creative niece, I advise you to find a productive way to utilize your free time (indeed, all of your time).  The Kingdom of Christ needs zealous and committed apostles, not freeloaders.

With love, Uncle Eddy

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