St Willibald

Bishop of Eichstatt, (southern Germany), (entered heaven in 786)

Dear Willy,

So working a 6am–6pm construction job this summer isn’t relieving the symptoms of your sophomore slump, eh?  Never fear – there is no need to wait until the start of junior year for full recovery: I have the solution. In fact, I have the solution not only for a sophomore slump but for every slump, for every sorrow and care, for every need your heart could ever feel – I have the one-size-fits-all-problems solution.  Seriously. I got it from St Willibald, your namesake, and personal patron. (Happy saint’s day, by the way.)

Son of St Richard (“king” of England – not really, but Willibald’s disciples liked to fancy that their great bishop was descended from England’s renown nobility), who died on their family pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Willibald was brother to St Winebald and St Walburga, prior and prioress of the double monastery he was to found when he became Bishop of Eichstatt in southern Germany.  I have a feeling that the extraordinary holiness of these first Englishmen to travel to Palestine (where they were imprisoned for a time because of their faith), which infused fervor, faith, and wisdom into the desperate task of evangelizing 8th century Germany, was partly due to the extended tour they made of the land where Jesus had lived.  They had no tour buses, no digital video cameras, no crowded hotels, and cheap trinket shops, but for many months he worshiped Christ in the very places that our Lord had made his earthly home.  Imagine praying in the same desert where Jesus was tempted, wading in the very waters where he was baptized, keeping an all-night vigil in the very garden where our Lord sweat great drops of blood on the night of his agony in Gethsemane.  In those days of prayer and meditation, with nothing to distract him, your patron fell deeply in love with Love himself. Upon his return to Italy, he entered and restored St Benedict’s famed monastery of Monte Cassino. From there, the Pope sent him to assist the marvelous work of his countryman St Boniface in the pagan forests of Germany, where he spent 45 years tending and increasing his beloved flock with exemplary pastoral charity.

If you would find the zest for life that seems to have leaked away over the last year or so, you must go back to its source: Jesus Christ himself.  Don’t scoff, my discouraged little nephew, for Christ is the fount of living water, and he alone can bring enduring life back into the parched ground of your thirsty soul.

Always your Uncle, Eddy

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