St Narcissus

Bishop of Jerusalem (entered heaven in 215)

Dear Cassie,

That is an interesting question you ask.  And I am glad that at least one of my nieces is spiritually sensitive enough to ask it.  The answer is simple: if you are wondering how your spiritual life is going, do what you do when you wonder how your physical life is doing – check the vital signs.  One of the key vital signs is what you do with your free time.  Let’s say you get an unexpected change of plans and all of a sudden you have an afternoon free, or a Saturday, or a morning, or just an hour.  What’s the first thing that comes to mind about how to spend that time?  Catch up on sleep?  Go for a run?  Watch a movie?  Sunbathing? (If you had chosen to go to USC it would be an option even in October.)  Such are normal ideas, and can be healthy.  But among the many possibilities a visit to Christ in the Eucharist, or a little afternoon retreat to the nearby monastery, shrine, or cathedral should at least pop up as an alternative.  If Christ is really real for you, and if your relationship with him really matters, you will covet time to hang out with him.  If not, it won’t even occur to you.  Take a lesson from today’s saint.

Narcissus was already an old man when he was made bishop of Jerusalem.  But his vibrant faith and contagious charity (along with his knack for miracles) made him a favorite among the faithful of all ages.  He was so popular, in fact, that he incurred the disaffection of some lax clerics.  They slandered him, and though no one believed their lies, the accusations caused enough turbulence to afford the holy prelate an opportunity to step down from his post.  To reestablish peace, he retired into solitude far from the city – an occupation he had long desired to take on.  For years he prayed and did penance, and only returned to society when he was over 100 years old.  His people were so astonished and delighted that they immediately petitioned him to take up his former office, despite his age.  He acquiesced, but took on St Alexander as his coadjutor bishop, and spent the rest of his life guiding his flock with exemplary prudence.  He died when he was around 116.

How he loved God! When ousted from his See he sentenced himself to “solitary confinement” so he could spend more time with the Lord he adored.  So, my dear niece, take a gander at that spiritual vital sign, and ask yourself what you do with your free time.  If Jesus doesn’t make an appearance, he clearly has not yet won your heart.


Uncle Eddy

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