View all Uncle Eddy | October 9, 2019
St John Leonardi
Founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God (entered heaven this day in 1609)
I don’t know why you are so discouraged by those difficulties you mention in your note. I would rather say that you should be glad about them. Any time we undertake some kind of work of evangelization, the quick appearance of obstacles is the most positive of signs: it means that the devil is worried about it and wants to nip it in the bud. Take today’s saint, for example.
John was from the town of Lucca in central Italy. He was a pharmacist’s apprentice, but felt called to serve God and the Church. He began studies for the priesthood, and was soon ordained, after which he devoted himself zealously to serving the poor and the sick. His love for Christ was contagious, and he quickly attracted a group of laymen to assist in his work, some of whom also began studies for the priesthood. A fervent desire for healthy reform filled the air of 16th-century Italy (especially in the aftermath of the Protestant Rebellion and the Council of Trent), and St John and companions concocted the idea of forming a congregation of diocesan priests to further the efforts of renewal. Innocent enough, right? Well, for some odd reason (still unclear to this day), violent opposition broke out among members of the Luccan government. John was exiled (he was forbidden to step foot in the city for almost the rest of his life) and his group was buffeted with unreasonable attacks of every kind. The saint persevered, however, first obtaining permission from the bishop, and after they had begun to kindle fires of charity and holiness throughout the Italian peninsula, he received papal approval. So revered was St John for his enthusiasm (and miracles), that he shared the task of planning a new seminary for missionary clergy, which opened in Rome some years after his death.
St John Leonardi’s experience is par for the course. So don’t fret the difficulties, whether they come in the form of official opposition or indirect obstacles; as long as you are humbly and energetically extending the Kingdom of Christ you will never have smooth sailing.