St Joseph Marello

Bishop of Acqui, Founder of the Congregation of the Oblates of St. Joseph (entered heaven on May 30th, 1895)

Dear Marla,

I hope your latest note was written in a bad mood, not after serious reflection.  I realize that going back to a small town for vacation after your first semester at school in the “big city” involves switching gears.  But as your faithful uncle, I simply refuse to accept that your “being totally and planetarily bored out of my entire mind” is anyone’s fault but your own.  If you can’t find something constructive to do with your time, it’s because you don’t really want to. Period. Just look at today’s saint for only one case (out of a million-and-one) to prove my point.

He was ordained a priest at the age of 24, and served his bishop in northern Italy as secretary and then chancellor of the diocese.  He poured himself into all the ministries available to him – confession, spiritual direction, catechesis, education… He even took over a home for the elderly when it was about to go over for lack of funds.  And on the side, he engaged the laity in projects dedicated to defending and supporting the pope, in an age when the papacy was under constant, violent, and severe attack. And all the while he spent intense times in prayer, so intense, in fact, that he was seriously considering giving up the busy diocesan life in order to become a Carthusian monk and dedicate himself full time to silence, prayer, and penance.

His bishop, however, would have none of that.  He had earmarked the zealous young priest for yet another, even more, challenging project: to start a religious order of men in his dioceses, thus reviving a spiritual presence that recent anti-clerical laws and activities had suffocated.  So our busy saint added the foundation of a religious order to his ample agenda.

His purity of intention and love for Christ and the Church made all of his endeavors succeed, and when he went to the First Vatican Council as his bishop’s assistant, he was picked out by Pope Leo XIII as a man for the future.  The pope soon made him bishop of his own diocese, in Acqui. This only gave the saint more space to work, and he took full advantage of it.

The lesson is clear, isn’t it?  Until Jesus comes again, there is also work for a loving, creative Christian soul to do.  Maybe it’s one’s own spiritual and faith formation; maybe it’s looking to the needs of family members and neighbors; maybe (and most probably) it’s both.  Where there’s love, frankly, there’s got to be activity.

Still bored?

Your devoted uncle, Eddy

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