St Pius X

Pope (entered heaven in 1914)

Dear Pia,

So you’re finally off to college.  It’s sounds like a cliché, but truly it seems like just yesterday when your mother was toting you around in that lavender papoose.  Time flies. Your college days will fly by too. Four years looks like a veritable ocean of time right now, but it will soon turn into a blur, and when you’re graduating, you will wonder where it all went.  Probably everyone has been showering you with advice. You’re tired of it all, I’m sure. And for someone like yourself, so balanced in your interests and mature in your judgments (except in your choice of date for the senior prom – yes, I did hear about that fiasco; I hope you don’t get blinded by good looks again when you step onto campus; look to the heart and soul – they don’t go grey and grow potbellies), that advice is most likely superfluous.  But may I, as your favorite uncle, please give one little tiny piece of advice? Just one? It comes from today’s saint, who was filled with divine wisdom. He discovered the secret to navigating through life without taking any dead-ends or getting stuck on any shoals. He found the high-road to happiness and holiness, and I think he can help you take full advantage of the next four years of your life.

Giuseppe Sarto was a peasant boy from northeastern Italy.  A good student, well liked, and with a lively faith, his parish priest recommended that he be sent to the seminary in Padua.  It was a great sacrifice for his poor family to let him go, but they accepted it with faith. The young man always dedicated himself with good cheer to his formation, as difficult as it often was.  God blessed him with a deep, vibrant charity and a sure pastoral prudence. From the very beginning, his ministry was marked by concern for the poor and uncompromising dedication to prayer. Everywhere his bishop sent him, he renewed the faith of the people.  Eventually, he himself was made bishop of Mantua, a diocese in terrible straits. So wisely and quickly did he set things in order (spiritually and materially) that the Pope appointed him to the grand Patriarchate of Venice, which he nobly served for ten years, before being elected Pope himself in 1903.  

For centuries, Popes had been drawn from the ranks of scholars and diplomats, but here, much to the world’s surprise, was a simple peasant priest.  To the end of his days the regalia and protocol of high office burdened him, but his love for the Church and for Christ prompted him to set in motion a renewal whose ripples continued to spread even into the Second Vatican Council.  He authorized the movement for liturgical reform, for more frequent communion, for a rejection of modern atheistic philosophies, and for many other religious and diplomatic causes that shone brilliantly in an age darkened by the imminence of war.  Indeed, it was the outbreak of World War I, which he had predicted even to the year and month, which finally broke down his indomitable verve. Upon the declaration of war, he said, “This is the last affliction that the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge.”  Give his life he did, just a few days later, though the scourge raged on.

So what’s the advice?  It’s very simple, really: keep your life centered around Christ, and Christ alone.  Your agenda will be overflowing with activities and classes and appointments; you will feel so busy that it will make you dizzy; you will constantly be discovering new ideas and new cultures and new horizons… but through it all, let Jesus Christ be your one sure guide.  Make these words of today’s saint yours, that’s my advice to you: “My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the weakest by His Divine help. I can do all in Him who strengthens me. His Power is infinite, and if I lean on him, it will be mine. His Wisdom is infinite, and if I look to Him for counsel, I shall not be deceived. His Goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed in Him, I shall not be abandoned.”

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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