St Sylvester Gozzolini

Abbot and Founder of the Silvestrine Benedictines (entered heaven in 1267)

Dear Sly,

You knew that trouble would come from your decision to enter the seminary.  And you knew where it would come from.  Your dad has never been too keen on your fervent pursuit of holiness (which may be one reason why God is calling you to be a priest – a way of channeling extra graces into your dad’s otherwise fortified soul), and this latest tactic is just one more manifestation of his suspicion of all things religious.  Honor him, as the Commandments direct us all, but honor God first, and trust that God’s plans will be better for everyone involved.  Today’s saint had a similar experience, you know.

He was studying law at the greatest law school of the Middle Ages (the University of Bologna, in Italy), but had long been harboring a desire to devote himself to the service of the Church.  Finally, he could resist no more, and he abandoned his legal studies in order to pursue theology and Sacred Scripture.  His father energetically remonstrated with him, but Sylvester knew in his heart that God was calling him, and was presented to the Bishop of Osimo (a coastal town in east-central Italy), who made him a canon of the Cathedral (canons were the priests who assisted the bishop in running his diocese; their parish was the Cathedral church).  For the next ten years, Sylvester’s dad refused to speak to him.

Nevertheless, he labored tirelessly for the good of his flock.  Soon he entered into conflict with the bishop, who happened to be leading a scandalous life.  Under threats of dismissal by the bishop, and after seeing firsthand the decaying corpse of a local nobleman who had been renowned for his physical beauty, Sylvester decided to pursue his long-secret dream of living the contemplative life.  He retired into solitude near the coast, and devoted himself to prayer and spiritual discipline.  Soon a group of disciples formed around him, and he gathered them into a community of monks, who followed a slightly revised version of the Rule of St Benedict.  By the time he died (at the age of 90), he had founded eleven monasteries, some of which are still in existence to this day.

I hope St Sylvester’s example provides some perspective for your current crisis.  Just keep in mind that only God loves you perfectly and only God can see the whole picture, and he is hoping you will put your trust in him, so that he can do marvelous things in you.

Your uncle always,


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