St Zozimus

Bishop of Syracuse (entered heaven in 660)

Dear Zoë,

Beware, beware, beware!  I detect the seductive aroma of intellectual pride wafting along on your last note.  Nothing will do more to hinder your friendship with Christ, and thereby to diminish the inner peace, joy, and clarity that you long for so much.  Scripture tells us more than once that “God opposes the proud but accords his favor to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).  God can’t hang out in your soul (with all his wonderful gifts) if your soul is full of vainglory; he can’t speak clearly in your conscience if you are convinced that you don’t need anyone else’s advice.  Remember, your achievements are impressive, but God is interested primarily in your heart, not your résumé. I think a quick look at today’s saint will be helpful; humility was his strongpoint.

Zozimus entered the seminary when he was seven years old.  It’s a bit early, and, admittedly, the silence and discipline got to him. He ran away once, but when his parents brought him back, he had a vision of St. Lucy and the Blessed Virgin that encouraged him.  So he persevered.  He ended up being a monk for thirty years, after which he was elected Abbot.  His humility was the cause of his election.  Here’s how it happened.

The community of monks went to meet with the bishop in order to elect a new Abbot.  Zozimus was left behind in order to watch the door and guard the relics that were kept in the church.  Somehow, this was mentioned during the discussion about who should be the next Abbot – a rather vehement discussion, considering the importance and influence that Abbots had back then.  The Bishop concluded that if Zozimus was humble enough to stay behind during this most auspicious occasion, he was also humble enough to be a good Abbot.  The Bishop was right.  Zozimus governed his monastery with wisdom, gentleness, firmness, and charity, because he cared more about the good of his brothers than his own repute or achievements.  A few years later, when his reputation for humility and charity had spread to the rest of the city, he was even (very reluctantly) made Bishop.

God has an unimaginably wonderful plan for you life – I agree.  But he won’t be able to make it happen unless you’re humble.  And that means admitting that you don’t know it all, and that you can easily be wrong.

Your loving uncle,


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