St Wilgefortis

or Liberata (somewhat legendary, so we don’t have a real date for her entrance into heaven)

Dear Willy,


Your recent note was most disappointing.  It reminded me how little I have done to extend our Lord’s Kingdom in the hearts of my nephews and nieces.  Ah me! May the Lord have mercy on my soul! I refer to your positively juvenile complaint about not getting your prayers answered.  The most basic fact about petitioning prayer is that God ALWAYS answers it, but not always as we want him to. If you didn’t win the NEH Younger Scholarship even though you worked super hard for it and prayed like you never prayed before, that doesn’t mean that God has abandoned you!  My dear nephew, he knows what’s best, not you, not even your incredibly well-informed uncle, Eddy. Whenever we ask God for anything in prayer, we must always have in our hearts the simple trust of a child, confident that our heavenly Father hears us and will respond with the full force of his wisdom and love.

Just to drive the point home, I will remind you of the rather apocryphal story of today’s saint, which nonetheless illustrates that God answers our prayers, but sometimes in unpredictable ways.  Wilgefortis, so they say, was one of septuplets born to the pagan king of Portugal. (All seven, according to the legend, became Christians and died martyrs.) Her father was bent on marrying her off to the king of Sicily for diplomatic purposes, despite her private vow to remain a virgin out of love for Christ.  So she prayed for help. It came – boy did it come. Almost overnight she miraculously grew a beard and mustache, which successfully repulsed the Sicilian suitor. Her father was so enraged that he had her crucified.

She has never been officially canonized, but through the ages, Christians have held the story dear – most likely (in my opinion) because it so eloquently presents the mystery of petitioning prayer (asking favors from God).  So don’t be discouraged, my downcast nephew, just keep forging ahead, spurred on by your hope and trust in the God who created you, redeemed you, and has gone ahead of you to prepare your mansion in heaven.

Sincerely, your clean-shaven uncle, Eddy

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