St Oswald of Worcester

Archbishop of York (in England) (entered heaven in 992)

Dear Ozzie,

If you send me one more note complaining about Catholics on your campus, I will never write to you again.  I am starting to get the impression that you actually enjoy complaining, pointing your finger at those who are “in charge” and criticizing them.  Not only is such posture uncharitable, but it is also infertile. What a waste. I highly recommend that you tap into your American entrepreneurial spirit – the envy of all the world – and start doing something about it.  Find creative solutions, be ingenious!  Why let the business people monopolize the enterprising spirit?  You should take a cue from today’s saint.

He was raised by his uncle, St Odo of Winchester (who was really more Danish than English), who also ordained him.  Oswald felt called to the monastic life and went to France in order to don the habit. He eventually returned to England, where his prudence and holy zeal attracted the attention of other men of the Church, who recommended that he be made a bishop, which he was.  He began his episcopal ministry in Worcester and remained bishop of that diocese even after he had been elevated to the archbishopric of York. The times were marked by excessive and widespread clerical laxity, which Oswald addressed mainly by encouraging the establishment of monasteries.  One church in his diocese was run by a particularly scandalous group of priests, who refused to give up their concubines and other sordid practices even after multiple appeals from their bishop. St Oswald was undaunted. He erected another church very nearby and put it under the care of a band of devout Benedictine monks, exemplary in every virtue.  Soon all the people began flocking to the new parish. This finally opened the eyes of the recalcitrant clerics, and they repented of their worldly ways and reorganized themselves along the Benedictine lines.

Oswald’s interim as Pastor was full of such energetic and creative approaches to evangelization, such that he became one of the forerunners of the reforms that would spread throughout all of Christendom during the coming century.  His example is a lesson for all of us, but especially for you, I think, since you have begun to settle too far into the comfortable and unproductive immobility of the ecclesiastical critic. Be careful.

Your affectionate uncle, Eddy

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