St Leobinus

Bishop of Chartres, in north central France, (entered heaven this day in 558)

Dear Linus,

Don’t skimp on essentials.  One of the essentials for you as a sophomore in college is, without a doubt, developing your MIND.  It’s understandable for you to have difficulty fitting all the activities you want to do into your schedule.  It shows that you want to take full advantage of every available minute.  That’s good.  But in your last note I detected exasperation with the slow, gradual work of study.  You prefer apostolic results, organizing activities, debates, events.  Fine.  Prefer whatever you want.  But if you don’t form your MIND, if you don’t KNOW something about God and the world, your activities will be empty shells, lots of “sound and fury, signifying nothing” as the Bard used to say.

You can learn a lot from today’s saint.  His parents were peasants, an unstable condition at the beginning of the so-called Dark Ages.  He spent his childhood working in the fields and dodging barbarians.  God stirred up in his heart a thirst for study.  He yearned to be able to read, to dip into the Sacred Scriptures, to scour the thoughts of history’s great minds, to enlighten his own understanding with the learning acquired with so much effort by others.  His parents couldn’t teach him, so he went to the nearest monastery and asked for instruction.  The monks took him in.  At night they taught him; during the day he worked for them.  He used to stay up late studying by candlelight. (That annoyed the monks, who had to get up in the wee hours to pray – in those days monks used dormitories instead of separate cells, so if one was up with a candle, the light would flicker for all to see.  Leobinus hooded the candle and kept studying.)

Eventually, he discovered his own vocation to become a monk himself.  He followed this vocation.  Early on he was captured by renegade soldiers during a war between the Franks and Burgundians and tortured to reveal where the monks of his monastery kept their “treasure”.  He stayed silent, and the soldiers left him for dead.  Recovering, he was ordained a priest, made Abbot, and eventually consecrated bishop of Chartres, where he instituted notable reforms and participated in the two great sixth-century councils of the Church in France (at Orleans and Paris).  He had the gift of healing and performed a number of miracles before dying in his old age.

God had a plan for this peasant boy – lots of projects and activities for him to be involved in.  But he needed knowledge and mental discipline in order to carry them out.  God has a plan for you too.  The fact that he has led you to the university is clearly a sign that you too need to have an informed and buffed mind in order to be able to carry them out.  Don’t let Him down; don’t let yourself down.  Make sure study is a top priority.

Your loving uncle,


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