St William of Vercelli

Abbot of Monte Vergine (near Naples in southern Italy) (entered heaven this day in 1142)

Dear Willy,

Every note you send me fills me with jubilation.  Clearly, God is hard at work, calling you to a profound life of intimacy with him, and just as clearly you are cooperating with exemplary humility and docility.  Alas! If only I had been so wise when I was so young!

It reminds me a bit of today’s saint, who lost his parents in infancy and left behind his kind relations (who had reared him) when he was only 14 in order to take a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Compostela, Spain.  At that young age, he had already heard God’s voice in his heart, and from then on he let nothing get in the way of his heeding it. Upon returning to Italy he “apprenticed” himself to a hermit, learning the art of prayer and penance.  After only two years of this austere life, he performed his first miracle, curing a blind man; the resulting popularity threatened to reduce him to mere wonder-worker status, so he fled to another town and another mountain to continue his solitary service to God.  A little while later, he decided to go on another pilgrimage, this time to Jerusalem, in order to advance even further in holiness. A close friend (St John of Matera – funny how the saints stick together isn’t it?) suggested that God had plenty of work for him to do right there in Italy and discouraged him from setting out.  St William went anyway, but when he was accosted by a band of robbers, he took it as a sign that St John had been right. Thereafter he spent his life founding monasteries for men and women, giving spiritual guidance to hundreds of souls, and becoming the personal advisor to King Roger II of Naples.

So, do you get it?  I mean, well, I thought the indirect approach would be best…  Of course, I realize that you haven’t performed any miracles or anything (yet), but God has graced you with uncommon gifts and opportunities.  I do hope you see that they are not meant only for your own spiritual self-indulgence; obviously, the Lord wants to reach out to many of his lost and hungry sheep through your mediation.  Will you try to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or will you begin putting your “talents” at the service of all those needy souls whom God has linked to your vocation? Think about it. And pray about.  And keep me posted.

Love, Uncle Eddy

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