St Radbod

Bishop of Utrecht (in the Netherlands) (entered heaven in 917)

Dear Rod,

Frustration, as you know (since I have told you so many times), is a function of expectations.  Therefore, when frustration assails you, draining your energy, stealing your peace of mind, and distracting you from what you ought to be doing, the remedy lies in reflecting on which of your expectations were unrealistic and adjusting them.  It’s hard to do because frustration can be a so vigorous a passion, related as it is to anger, but it’s possible. Today’s saint gives us an illustration.

He was the grandson of the great pagan King of the Frisons (the Dutch) on his mother’s side, and full of noble French blood on his father’s.  He received the best education available in Europe at the time, first studying under his uncle the Bishop of Cologne, and then training his mind and manners at the court of Emperor Charles the Bald and his son and successor, Louis the Stammerer.  Radbod’s few surviving writings, some poems, hymns, and treatises, show that he had a privileged intelligence and considerable literary gifts. But it was into the heart of the Church that he thrust his great talents. After less than a year serving as a priest in Utrecht, he was elected bishop of that great city, an election he declined, until he was repeatedly prevailed upon to accept.  As he donned the miter, he also donned a monastic habit, an expression of his desire to follow in the exemplary footsteps of his predecessor bishops, the most outstanding of which had been Benedictine monks. He served his diocese primarily by his testimony: he subjugated his own selfish tendencies with prudent ascetical practices and lavishly expended what few resources he had and could gather to relieve the suffering of the sick and poor.  

They were rough times, however, and the most powerful of the Frisons still resisted the Christian ethic.  Some of these obstinate sinners, seconded by invading pagan forces from Denmark, forced the holy bishop into exile, where he died of natural causes.  Imagine the exiled bishop musing to himself on his deathbed. How odd it must have seemed that God would choose him to be a bishop, give him great holiness and love, and then send him away from his flock!  He easy it would have been to yield to feelings of frustration! By all accounts, however, it seems he died in great peace of mind, confident that his active obedience to Providence was the best way he could advance Christ’s Kingdom.

So when things don’t work out the way you planned, take it as a sign that your plans were imperfect, and God wants to improve them.  Then get back to work.

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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