Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- June 10
Saint Landry of Paris, Bishop (entered heaven in 661)
I don’t know why you insist on complicating things. It’s all well and good to put together a concrete plan for your evangelizing work on campus next year. As President of your Chapter this is the least you can do in order to be responsible. But I think you are making it more difficult than it is. Be simple! There are two groups of people on campus that you need to evangelize. First, the Catholics. Ask yourself what they need in order to grow closer to Christ, then figure out how you and your fellow members can help meet that need. The second group is the non-Catholics. What do they need to grow closer to Christ, or at least to move one step in His direction? OK, now what can you all do to make that happen? There you have it: a program, a plan. Sometimes we overlook the obvious while searching for the cosmic. Today’s saint never made that mistake, and I think you can take a good lesson from him.
Landry (aka Landericus) was the 27th bishop of Paris. His knowledge of and love for the faith were prodigious, but he had his feet firmly planted on the ground. The biggest problem in seventh-century Paris was poverty and indigence. The social structure of European society was in the throes of the Dark Ages; it was a mess. Streams of poor, sick, and ignorant folk flowed into the cities – and Paris was one of the biggest (though even the big cities at this period were small by the standards of most periods).
Landry didn’t get lost in a tangle of sociological reflection about the causes of the barbarian invasions and the fall of the Roman Empire. Instead, he built a hospital for the poor, for those who had nowhere to go to be treated for their infirmities. It was the first of its kind in France. He put it right next to the Cathedral. And when things got really tough, in times of famine or plague, for instance, he sold off all his belongings, including what little furniture he had, to support those who had nothing. When even that didn’t help, he melted down the extra sacred vessels of the Church, and sold them off as well. Miracles abounded in the wake of this holy prelate, both during his lifetime and, through his relics, for centuries afterwards. His Cathedral hospital and poorhouse became a model for bishops throughout Europe, making the love of Christ shine in the midst of the darkest period of the Dark Ages.
Don’t be complicated. Focus on the essentials. Give the Holy Spirit some breathing room, and watch him blow the house down.
Your loving uncle, Eddy
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