St Monegundis

Widow (entered heaven this day 570)

Dear Odile,

Two months have passed since your cousin died, and I am worried about you.  You say that you haven’t been able to get rid of the “funk” of sadness that swept over you in the wake of his violent death.  Hmm…  Well, my dear niece, I have always known that you are particularly sensitive.  This is a great gift of God.  It is no part of virtue to be like a stone in the face of life’s tragedies (the Stoics thought it was, you know – one of the many differences between Christian virtue and pagan virtue).  Yet, on the other hand, excessive grief certainly doesn’t come from God.  Maybe today’s saint can stir up your faith and help you regain some perspective.

Monegundis was an honorably married lady of Chartres (northern France, near Paris), who was blessed with two lovely, lively, and intelligent daughters, of whom she was duly proud.  Unfortunately, before they were grown to adulthood, they both died.  The cause of their deaths hasn’t come down to us, but the consequence has: Monegundis was cast into a deep, turbulent depression that spread like a cloud over all her friends and relatives.  It lasted for a long while – too long.  Gradually, under the gentle guidance of God’s grace, she realized that her grief was not completely healthy, that it involved a certain selfishness: she was indulging in too much self-pity, bemoaning her loneliness as if it were the loss of all that could make her happy.  What an insult to God, who alone is the satisfaction of the soul and who had seen fit to take her daughters in accordance with the dictates of his inscrutable wisdom!

She received this grace of God and repented.  With her husband’s permission she took up residence in a small cell near Chartres, where she lived in prayer and penance, dedicated solely to God and his goodness.  After a few years, she moved to Tours, where she built another cell close to the tomb of St Martin.  Soon her reputation for holiness attracted a few followers, then a few more, and before she knew it she had become spiritual mother to a convent that continued to spawn saints for centuries.

If God has seen fit to take your cousin to his eternal reward, he certainly didn’t intend the loss to paralyze your capacity for living deeply, joyfully and meaningfully.  In fact, I am sure he had just the opposite in mind – as he did for St Monegundis.  May you learn to follow him as she did, wherever he may lead.

Your loving uncle,

Eddy

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