St Wenceslaus of Bohemia

Martyr (entered heaven in 929)

Dear Wendy,

If you continue “being good” just in order to win praise and acclaim from your peers, you are doomed to frustration and anxiety.  You cannot please everyone – to please some you will have to defy others, to please them you would have to defy the former.  As Christians, we need always to follow the example of Christ our Lord in all things, especially in the motive behind our virtue and charity.  Just as he sought only to bring us into the everlasting Kingdom no matter how much it might cost him personally, so we must seek to do good to others not for the recompense they will give us in return, but in order to please God and advance his cause.

Today’s saint learned this lesson the hard way.  The Kingdom of Bohemia (modern day Czech and Slovak Republics) was hardly a Christian kingdom in his day, though his grandparents had both been baptized (his parents were only nominal Christians).  His grandmother, St Ludmila, who provided him an excellent education in mind, body, and spirit, raised him.  She paid dearly for it.  When his father died and his mother (Drahomira, who courted the pagan nobles) took the throne, Ludmila encouraged the young heir to claim his rightful position and take the reins of power.  Drahomira’s sympathizers had the old lady strangled, hoping this would deter the pious Wenceslaus from such assertive measures, but the murder produced just the opposite effect.  Soon thereafter Drahomira was banished and Wenceslaus acceded to the throne (he quickly recalled her and she never opposed him again).  The youthful ruler threw his deep faith and love for God and country into an energetic effort to Christianize his people and provide them with peace and justice.  To this end, he ended a rivalry with the neighboring German Emperor, which earned him powerful enemies among the Czech nobility (notoriously hateful of Germans), and clamped down on the crime of murder (a favorite sin of the pre-Christian Bohemians).  When he married and had a son, his younger brother (Boleslaus) saw his hopes to inherit the crown dashed, and plotted fratricide, which he carried out with the help of some conspirators a little while later.

Fidelity to truth and justice out of love for Christ earned this king the martyr’s crown, and he was rewarded with immediate entrance into heaven – evidenced by the slew of miracles that took place through veneration of his relics, which were relocated to the Cathedral of St Vitus in Prague in order to accommodate the crowds of pilgrims who streamed to his tomb offering their petitions through his intercession.

If he had preferred to curry the favor of his peers and rivals, he would have probably lived a lot longer, but his kingdom would have suffered continued injustice, and his holiness would never have won the hearts of his people to Christ.  It seems to me that you need to ask his prayers, so God will grant you the grace to care less about what people think of you, and more about what God thinks of you.


Uncle Eddy

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