Thursday, October 15, 2009

Commemorating the Feast of a Namesake Saint

I will admit that, while living in Steubenville a few years ago, I experienced a bout of jealousy over the fact that so many of my friends shared names with prominent Catholic Saints, whereas the name Gerald did not appear to stand out in this regard. This led me to do some research to see if there were, in fact, Catholic Saints named Gerald. My search proved more fruitful than I imagined, as I found at least four St. Geralds among the Church Triumphant (not counting those that also went by the alternate spelling Gerard). There was St. Gerald of Mayo, noted as a holy abbot of one of the prominent Irish monasteries of the late 7th and early 8th centuries. There was St. Gerald of Braga, the Portuguese Bishop who died in 1109 and was known for being a vocal opponent of lay investiture (the process of lay nobility appointing hand-picked candidates to ecclessial posts). And there was St. Gerald of Sauve-Majeure, a noted 11th century Benedictine monk and reformer.

There was, however, one particular St. Gerald that caught my attention, and to whom I eventually developed a devotion. As I was remiss in failing to note his feast day this past Tuesday (October 13), I would like to make mention of him now. St. Gerald of Aurillac was a French nobleman who lived during the 10th century. He is unusual among the Saints of his day in many respects, most notably in the fact that he was a layman and lived an ascetic and pious life during a period of history specially noted for the immoral excesses of its nobility. The following biographical sketch, found here, briefly describes the Saint's life and notable accomplishments.

Gerald of Aurillac, Confessor

Born 855 at Saint-Cirgues; died 909. He was of noble birth and suffered lengthy illness in his youth. For this reason, he gave much time to meditation, study, and prayer instead of the martial pursuits that ordinarily would have been expected.

When he succeeded his father as count of Aurillac in Auvergne, and owner of considerable estates, he continued his life of devotion and became noted for his piety and generosity to the poor. He was distinguished for the justice and efficiency with which he discharged the duties of a wealthy nobleman.

His personal life was no less virtuous, and markedly well-ordered and religious. He dressed modestly, ate little, rose every morning at 2:00 a.m.--even when travelling--to say the first part of the Divine Office, and then he assisted at Mass.

But it is possible that he would not have become well-known had he not founded the monastery at Aurillac. After a pilgrimage to Rome, he built a church under the invocation of Saint Peter, and, c. 890, a Benedictine abbey at Aurillac, which was to become famous when it was taken over by the Cluniac order.

He led a life of great goodness for someone of his rank during this rather immoral period in history. He considered becoming a monk at his monastery but was persuaded against it by Gausbert, the bishop of Cahors, who counseled that he would be more useful acting as a layman who devoted himself to his neighbors and dependents. He gave a great part of his revenue to the poor and endowed the monastery generously.

He was blind for the last seven years of his life. He died at Cezenac, Quercy, and was buried at his abbey. He is the patron saint of Upper Auvergne.

Saint Odo of Cluny wrote a Life of Saint Gerald that made him celebrated in medieval France. A later member of Saint Gerald of Aurillac's family was Saint Robert of Chaise-Dieu (d. 1087; canonized c. 1095) who founded the great abbey of that name in Auvergne (Attwater, Encyclopedia, Sitwell, White).

For more information about St. Gerald of Aurillac, you can visit the following links:
- The Life of St. Gerald of Aurillac - by St. Odo of Cluny, a 10th century monk whose research into the life of St. Gerald provides us with most of our extant knowledge of the Saint. This link is to a preview, so some pages are missing, but still a lot of good information.
- Entry on St. Gerald from Butler's Lives of the Saints
- Wikipedia article

As a single man still discerning his vocation and someone who has for the past seven years struggled with recurring and occasionally debilitating bouts of sciatica, I am especially attracted to St. Gerald of Aurillac as an intercessor because he has been proclaimed the patron of bachelors and the disabled. He remains a wonderful model of holiness for laity, for men that are either called to live chaste single life or still discerning a vocation, for those who struggle with disabilities (or any other obstacles that stand in the way of the fulfillment of God's will in our lives) and for those who struggle with a tendency towards materialism. For those seeking a saintly devotion, and even for those are not, I recommend this holy Frenchman as an intercessor. St. Gerald of Aurillac, pray for us! God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Unveiling The Latest Weapon In The War On Terror

Granted, the Obama administration isn't putting as much money into the military these days, but the brilliant minds in the White House war room have developed a new weapon that is both cost effective and sure to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies...

Sleep well tonight, my fellow Americans. We are in good hands :-)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Happy Feast Of St. Francis And Respect Life Sunday!

It is a happy yet fitting coincidence that the two should fall on the same day this year. St. Francis is widely and properly regarded as one of the greatest lovers of life (and especially of the Author of Life) that the Church has ever produced.

Let us remember St. Francis as a lover of life, but also as someone who recognized the pre-eminent value of human life above that of all other material creatures. Let us also remember that he had above all else a deep and abiding love for God and His Church, and dedicated every waking moment of every day to furthering the truths espoused by both. It is one of the great tragedies of modern times that a city named after him by well meaning Spanish missionaries has become a hotbed of hostility towards that which St. Francis loved most. Let us then, on this day, pray for that city, and for all others who set themselves against the truth, that they may experience a true conversion of heart and stand up for the inviolability of human life; and that they may devote their lives to serving the One who created all life and gave that life meaning. God bless!

In Jesus and Mary,