Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- December 19
Saint Anastasius I, Pope and Confessor (entered heaven in 402)
I knew this would happen. There you are, not a care in the world, breezing through your last year in college, and the job offers are just streaming in. I can picture you slouched on the couch in your basement, blissfully idle in your weeks of vacation, munching on chips and lazily perusing the letters while your brother shoots pool behind you. Part of me wishes I could be there; to enjoy a smidgeon of domestic tranquility after so many months – or is it years by now? – in solitary confinement would be, I have to admit, a whiff of heaven. Some people have all the luck. I would only like to make a brief observation about some of the criteria that ought to be going into your decision.
I will start by reminding you of today’s saint. Anastasius was, from the few reports that remain to us, a lot like you: gifted with more than his share of natural talent, which opened up an endless chain of opportunities. He was a native Roman when that still meant something rather colossal to the civilized world. But he put the gifts God had given him, along with his hard-won virtues, at the service of a higher Empire, one that the Barbarians could never sully, as they were to sully Rome just a few years after his death in 402. In his brief tenure as Pope he reined in two volcanic heresies: Origenism (names after its founder, Origen of Alexandria, who did wonderful things for the advance of Christian theology, but at the same time propagated questionable and dangerous doctrines, like that of the eventual salvation of the devil and his fallen angels; it was extra dangerous because it was coupled with his powerful intellect and convincing eloquence) and Donatism (which was more of a schism than a heresy, but equally destructive, since it disallowed the return of traitorous Christians to the fold of the Church). He published letters reiterating the true faith throughout Christendom, and called a council in Rome to put out the devilish fires. And after a mere four years wearing the tiara, he died. He was friends with St Augustine and St Jerome (who called him “rich in his poverty”), and you can still visit his remains this day in the church of St Praxedes in Rome.
What, you may be asking, does this have to do with your job search? Well, it ought to remind you that what really matters in life is not comfort, fame, and money, but building Christ’s Kingdom. God had given Pope St Anastiasus a bountiful supply of natural talent and gifts. He could have put them to service somewhere else, somewhere where he wouldn’t have had to be “rich in his poverty”, but he decided to serve the cause of Christ. That can be done, of course, as a doctor or a lawyer or a forester – I won’t deny it. But it can’t be done without a conscious, prayerful choice to do it. Now, my dear nephew, as you prepare for your last Christmas as a college student, and before you send in your acceptance letter to one of those oh-so-lucky employers, is a particularly propitious time to make that choice.
Your loving uncle, Eddy
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