St John Eudes

(entered heaven in 1680)

Dear Johnny,

What a boon for my soul to read of your earnest desire to make this coming school year into a milestone of spiritual growth!  I have always been of the opinion that we normally get what we really want, and most of us don’t get seriously holy because we only want the comfort of mediocrity.  I am glad you are not in that category.  Of course, it is important to choose the proper means to achieve one’s goals.  Your goal for the year is noble, but how will you reach it?  That book I gave you for Christmas three years ago should provide some practical guidelines.  I would just like to point out one thing that should be at the center of any effort like the one you’re beginning now: Mass.  It is the perfect prayer, because it is Christ’s own prayer, offered to the Father through the lips of the priest.  And it is the perfect worship, because in it Christ’s own self-offering is activated through the offering of the priest.  And it is the perfect embrace between our heart and God’s, because when we receive Holy Communion, we receive Christ himself.  At college, your schedule is flexible enough that you can feasibly make it to Mass almost every day.  If you learn to live the Mass deeply, it will be far and away the best thing you can do to speed along the road to holiness and happiness.

Today’s saint understood this.  One of the greatest preachers of his age, St John Eudes was a model priest.  He dedicated himself to tending the sick (plagues were pretty common in seventeenth-century France), caring spiritually for reformed women of ill repute, and reinvigorating the clergy.  He drew his unlimited zeal and heartrending eloquence (one bishop complemented his preaching thus: “I have heard all the best preachers in Italy and France, but I have never heard anyone who touches the heart so deeply as does this good father”) from the Eucharist.  There he drank in the ardent love of Christ and Mary.  He wrote extensively about those loves, and even composed liturgies to celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Above all, however, he loved the Mass.  God had granted him an understanding of its beauty and power.  He once remarked that to celebrate Mass properly would take three eternities: one to prepare for it, one to celebrate it, and one to give thanks for it.

You may not have eternity at your disposal (not yet, anyway), but I bet you can find half an hour a day for Mass – if you really want to.  And when you go, do pray for your

Devoted uncle, Eddy


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