Uncle Eddy's E-mails -- February 20
Saint Eucherius, Bishop (entered heaven this day in 743)
Would you believe that I share fully your present sentiments? Perhaps the weather is colder there, and the sky darker, and the days unbearably shorter (I can’t say for sure, since I never see daylight, or nightlight, for that matter), but your strong distaste, your emotional turbulence, your deep, visceral repugnance at that “northern, barbarian climate with its omnipresent gloom” is echoed, I daresay, by my own despairing mood.
Lucky for both
of us that we human creatures are not at the mercy of our feelings. Lucky for both of us that
we have learned from the Lord, whose love only waxed brighter amid the most horrible of
contrarieties, the precious lesson that the rest of the modern world has forgotten: the human spirit
and the truths of our faith operate at a level deeper than external circumstances. Yes,
Christian joy and Christian virtue bravely tread forward in spite of bad moods. Today’s saint
is a case in point.
The early medieval Frenchman (actually, he
was born long before France was even a country, but in that neck of the European woods) was born of
devout parents and received an ideal Christian education. So ideal, in fact, that he decided
at an early age to dedicate his whole life to serving God.
After seven years of prayer and penance in a nearby monastery, the bishop of Orleans died, and the people of that city begged their king (Charles Martel, father of Charlemagne) to allow Eucherius to be appointed their new bishop. A retinue of soldiers were sent to fetch him from the monastery, and though he hid and resisted and objected as much as he was able, in the end he was consecrated. Thus began a remarkable career as a wise, prudent, and winning prelate who spread the Gospel in every way imaginable, but most especially by his enormous and gentle spirit of Christian charity.
And that charity was tested in a tough crucible, let me tell you. He publicly criticized some of the king’s less-than-pious practices (Charles used to raise money for his wars by stripping churches of their goods), and as a result was apprehended and banished to Cologne. His extraordinary virtue soon won him the unparalleled esteem of everyone there, however, which was bad political news for Charles, who then had him put under guard of a nobleman named Robert who lived in Liege. But Robert was completely won over by Eucherius’s humility, wisdom, and charity, and put him in charge of all his almsgiving, allowing him at the same time to retire to a monastery close by. There, leading once again a life of retirement and prayer, the saint died a holy death.
The changing circumstances and unjust treatment that formed leitmotif of Eucherius’s life couldn’t quench his constant Christian virtue. And that, my dearest of nieces, should be an encouragement to both of us: with Christ, through Christ, and in Christ, we can become the masters of our moods.
Your melancholic uncle, Eddy
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