Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- March 13
Saint Euphrasia, Virgin (entered heaven around 420)
Sometimes we are beset with more temptations than other times. It sounds like you are currently at the “more” part of the pendulum swing. Our Lord is certainly not ignorant of this; in fact, he is probably allowing it in order to help you live your Lent more deeply – one of the great spiritual motifs of this liturgical season is our need for God, and there’s no time we feel it more than when we’re severely tempted (except when we’re severely sick). The important thing is to respond with confidence and faith. A practical “trick” for that is redoubling the disciplined fulfillment of your normal responsibilities. Throw yourself into your duties as a student, a COMPASS member, a friend, a lector, etc… These constitute God’s will for you, and when you renew your dedication to them out of love for him, it does wonders for strengthening you against temptation. Above all, don’t waste time – there is truth to the old adage that idle hands are the devil’s playground.
Today’s saint conquered shocking temptations by following similar
advice. Euphrasia (also written “Eupraxia”) was related to Emperor Theodosius I. When
her father died while she was still in her infancy, the emperor took her mother and herself under
his protection in the luxurious imperial court at Constantinople. In accordance with the
custom of the times, she was betrothed when only a girl (five years old), to a wealthy
senator. While they waited for her to grow up to a marriageable age, her mother took her to
Egypt (in order to escape suitors of her own), where they settled down near a convent of nuns.
Though she was only seven, Euphrasia was strongly attracted to the sisters, and spent a great deal
of time there. The abbess recognized immediately that the Holy Spirit was working
energetically in the girl’s soul, and came to Euphrasia’s aid when the child asked her mother’s
permission to be admitted as a permanent member of the religious community. The mother died
soon after her entrance, overjoyed at her daughter’s vocation.
When the Emperor summoned her to fulfill the betrothal a few years later,
Euphrasia requested to be allowed to pursue her spiritual marriage with Jesus. The Emperor
consented. Almost immediately afterwards, the young novice began to experience violent
temptations against her vocation. She was buffeted with vain imaginations and drawn with
almost irresistible curiosity to experience the cosmopolitan life of court that she had
forsaken. She opened her heart to the abbess, who assured her that these attacks were only to
be expected. To help put them off, the wise abbess put Euphrasia in charge of the most
strenuous chores in the convent, and kept her busy day and night, cleaning out the sisters’ cells,
fetching water for the kitchen, chopping the wood, baking the bread, cooking the food, and all the
while still requiring her to be present for every office of prayer. The girl threw herself
into these tasks with gusto, trusting that they would bring her closer to her divine spouse.
By the time she turned 20 Euphrasia had not only become the most beautiful and elegant nun of the community, but she was also the humblest and meekest. Her example of cheerfulness and hard work filled her companions with joy and zeal, and the convent became a gushing stream of divine charity. Maybe your dorm will follow suit, if you follow her example.
Your devoted uncle, Eddy
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