One site online that speaks of saints describes them as “holy and human people”. I guess you can’t miss with a description like that. The “Saint of the Day” for August 25 is Louis IX of France – the only French monarch to have been canonized. Louis was a man who truly sought justice, who worked diligently for peace within his own realm (he tried to outlaw private wars), and who led several crusades. The foundations of the Sorbonne were laid during his reign. But the reason we bring him up is because of something he wrote in a letter to one of his sons:
If the Lord bestows upon you any kind of prosperity, thank him humbly and see that you become no worse for it, either through vain pride or anything else.
First off, it takes great wisdom to recognize the perils of prosperity. How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, says Jesus in Mark 10:23. It would have been difficult for Louis to deny his prosperity. France had the largest army and the greatest wealth on the European continent in the 13th century. But many of us who live far better today in the US than any king – including Louis – in the 13th century – we have a hard time recognizing just how extreme and extravagant are the riches we enjoy. Hot water at the twist of a faucet – or what about running water right into our homes? Refrigerators – and all the food stored therein. There is no need to bore you with the extensive list of amenities which we look on less as ‘blessings’ and more as entitlements.
For so many of us, it’s not a matter of “if”, but the simple fact that it has happened – we are the beneficiaries of so many blessings we trip over them. Are there any manifestations of prosperity which have actually made us the worse rather than the better? Perhaps less than pride, and more like complacency – that might be the “worse” we have become for all the “conveniences” that are a regular part of our day.
Enjoy the blessings of the day. Embrace the prosperity with gratitude; but let’s not be the worse for all the wealth and comfort that has come to us. Louis’ advice to his son is counsel we should heed for ourselves.
A blessed Tuesday …
Learn more about Louis IX of France.