St Lutgardis

Virgin (entered heaven this day in 1246)

Dear Liddy,

Back home for summer, eh?  It must be a bit trying to take up that old life-guarding job again; I know how fervently you were hoping to land a glamorous internship in the city.  You did your best, though, and nothing panned out, so you can rest assured that God has a mission for you to fulfill right there, and he’s counting on you to do it.  I can picture you on the lifeguard stand at the beach there, sunglasses and a deeper tan every day (by the way, don’t skimp on the sunblock – you’ll thank me later), bored and wishing you were somewhere else.  If I may be so bold, I will issue a bit of a warning. Often when we have to spend a lot of time doing things that we find monotonous and unpleasant, we are especially open to the devil’s attacks. For instance: You will meet someone who is exciting and interesting and who takes an interest in you (could be either a boy or a girl).  You will enjoy spending time with this new friend and be introduced to his or her group. There will come a moment in which your conscience tells you that you probably shouldn’t get involved in the kind of things they are involved in – and that’s when the devil will strike. He’ll make you think about how boring your summer will be without these new friends, and then he’ll make you resent the fact that you didn’t get the internship, using that as a kind of excuse to convince yourself that you deserve a little bit of fun, and then… Well, you can imagine what will happen next.  The best way to avoid the slippery slope is to take the initiative. Don’t let yourself get bored, and above all, don’t skimp on your prayer life. If you keep God first when it’s hard to do so, you’ll be amazed at his response. That reminds me a bit of today’s saint.

Lutgardis was faced with a similarly disappointing scenario as a teenager.  Her father lost the money he had been saving for her dowry in a brainless business speculation, thus dashing any hopes of marrying off the pretty and personable girl.  So he dumped her into a convent and put her under the nuns’ care (this all happened in Holland, by the way). She was much too social (so she thought) to be attracted to the religious life, and the nuns let her live there as a kind of boarder, permitting her to have visitors of both sexes.  One day while she was with a friend, she had an unexpected visitor – our Lord himself. He appeared to her, showed her his wounds, and asked her to give her love to him and him alone. She was completely won over and immediately renounced all worldly concerns. She took up the religious habit and daily grew in intimacy with God.  Her intense awareness of Christ’s constant presence in her life astonished the other nuns; Lutgardis would often called away from prayer in order to take care of some mundane duty and the sisters would hear her say things like, “Wait here, Lord, and I will come back as soon as I’m finished.”

She was graced with many other supernatural favors, including visits from the Blessed Virgin, St Catherine, and St John the Evangelist, as well as frequent levitations and visible auras during prayer.  Our Lord allowed her to share in the sufferings of his passion, and sometimes blood would appear in her hair and on her forehead when she contemplated them. She gladly offered these sufferings to God for the sake of the many souls she interceded for, even suggesting that her own name be blotted out from the Book of Life so that an estranged sinner could make it to heaven.

So you see, what started as an unfortunate twist of fate in the life of a promising young lady became an occasion of deep fulfillment and the salvation of countless souls.  May your summer be nothing less.

God bless, Uncle Eddy

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