August 21 - E-mails from Uncle Eddy
Saint Pius X, Pope (entered heaven in 1914)
Starting college is like starting a new volume in your autobiography. Right now it is full of crisp, blank pages. Each day you will write something on those pages by the decisions you make and the habits you form. At the end you will have four years’ worth of virtue, beauty, and worthy memories – or else pages and pages scribbled with self-indulgence, wasted time, and regrets. Every day, with all its opportunities and challenges, makes up part of your story, and only you can determine how it goes. I would offer you one little observation in that regard: it will help immensely to remind yourself that God is lovingly interested in each one of those pages and in what gets written on them. You may even want to start writing something like “God cares!” at the top of the page when you’re taking notes in class to remind you of this. He really does; and he has something great in store for you. All he needs is for you to do your best and follow his lead, and you will discover it.
Today’s saint is a marvelous example of cooperating with God’s providence. Giuseppe Sarto was a peasant boy from northeastern Italy. A good student, well liked, and with a lively faith, his parish priest recommended that he be sent to the seminary in Padua. It was a great sacrifice for his poor family to let him go, but they accepted it with faith. The young man always dedicated himself with good cheer to his formation, as difficult as it often was. God blessed him with a deep, vibrant charity and a sure, pastoral prudence. From the very beginning, his ministry was marked by a concern for the poor and an uncompromising dedication to prayer. Everywhere his bishop sent him, he renewed the faith of the people. Eventually, he himself was made bishop of Mantua, a diocese in terrible straits. So wisely and quickly did he set things in order (spiritually and materially) that the Pope appointed him to the grand Patriarchate of Venice, which he nobly served for ten years, before being elected Pope himself in 1903.
For centuries, Popes had been drawn from the ranks of scholars and diplomats, but here, much to the world’s surprise, was a simple peasant priest. To the end of his days the regalia and protocol of high office burdened him, but his love for the Church and for Christ prompted him to set in motion a renewal whose ripples continued to spread even into the Second Vatican Council. He authorized the movement for liturgical reform, for more frequent communion, for a rejection of modern atheistic philosophies, and for many other religious and diplomatic causes that shone brilliantly in an age darkened by the imminence of war. Indeed, it was the outbreak of World War I, which he had predicted even to the month and year, which finally broke down his indomitable verve. Upon the declaration of war, he said, “This is the last affliction that the Lord will visit on me. I would gladly give my life to save my poor children from this ghastly scourge.” Give his life he did, just a few days later, though the scourge raged on.
You will find a thorough biography of Pope St Pius X inspiring reading as you begin this new stage of life. It will help you throw yourself heart and soul into everything God asks of you, making every page a worthy tale – which is the best (and only) way to brave the great adventure of life.
Count on my prayers, Uncle Eddy
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