Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- March 18
Saint Edward, King and Martyr (entered heaven this day in 979)
Thanks for you note. It’s always nice to hear from my namesake, especially on our Saint’s Day. But in conscience I must take you to task for your complaining. You really ought to know better than that by now. Look. Our Lord pointed out more than once that those who love him will follow him, that his servants and his friends will be found in the same place the Master is to be found. And what is that place? The Cross, of course. Humiliation, misunderstanding, criticism, calumny, opposition, suffering, betrayal… It’s all in the Gospel, and it shouldn’t surprise you to be experiencing it. In fact, you should be rejoicing: “Blessed are you when they persecute you for righteousness’ sake,” said our Lord. Today’s saint will serve as a good reminder.
He was the son of the glorious Edgar, and thus inherited the kingship of all England towards the end of the tenth century. He was just a teenager at the time. But he was mature for his age, and quickly showed himself worthy of the charge. (He also had the good counsel of St Dunstan to fall back on in the midst of his inexperience.) He was a model of Christian virtue, and dedicated himself from day one of his reign to using his authority for the good of his subjects, especially those most in need, and not for his own aggrandizement. As a result, he quickly became revered and adored, and his kingdom prospered.
One powerful person, however, didn’t like him very much: his stepmother,
Elfrida. She had a son (Edward’s younger half brother, Ethelred) whom she wanted to be king
instead of Edward. She made no effort to hide her envy and ambition, but even so Edward always
treated her with the utmost gentility and sincerest respect. In the end, however, her passions
got the best of her. Edward visited her one day in her country house, near where he had been
hunting. She offered him a drink. While he was stooping down to accept the courtesy, she
had one of her servants stab him in the stomach with a long knife. A few minutes later he fell
dead to the ground, his intestines spilling out beside him.
She tried to cover up her deed by hiding his body in a marsh, but it was discovered through a miraculous shaft of light, and it soon became a medium of miracles for the faithful Christian subjects who paid their respects to the holy King and asked for his intercession. Moved by the pangs of conscience and the testimony of the miracles, Elfrida repented. From then on, she dedicated herself to the construction of two monasteries, and spent the rest of her days in one of them, in prayer and penitence.
King Edward the Martyr was a model of virtue and goodness, and look what happened to him! As you strive to follow the narrow (but meaningful) road of fidelity to Christ, don’t expect anything less.
Your loving uncle, Eddie
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