SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE (DIED IN 959)
His Feast Transferred from October 3
St. Gerard was born in Staves, Namur, now part of Belgium. He became a page to the Count of Namur, who sent him on a special mission to the court of King Charles III (“the Simple”) of France (reigned 879-929) in 918. The saint, who remained in France after completing his mission, joined the Benedictines of St. Denis. There he was a monk for eleven years before returning to his home estate at Brogne to found an abbey. At Brogne St. Gerard served as an abbot for twenty-two years, and from there he introduced the Rule of St. Benedict into many monasteries in what is now France and Belgium. He also reformed the practices of a group of monasteries for two decades. This was not universally popular among the affected monks, some of whom left for monasteries over which St. Gerard had no jurisdiction.
St. Gerard was a capable monastic administrator, and therefore a man who had necessary gifts. At this tumultuous time in European history, the monasteries and convents of the Roman Catholic Church did preserve knowledge and provide essential social services. This crucial work required orderly practices. Yet, as good an administrator as St. Gerard was, he often found that his duties interfered with his need for contemplative prayer.
Kristen E. White, in A Guide to the Saints (New York: Ballantine, 1991), summarizes the saint’s greatest quality: “He was known especially for his sweetness of temper.” This was certainly essential to his success as an abbot for how one deals with others affects how well one leads them.
This quality of sweetness of character impresses me. I have known and known of theologically orthodox people who were perpetually grumpy. No matter how much I agreed with them, I did not want to associate with them or lend them much, if any, support. They drove people–sometimes including me–away from them, and would have accomplished much more had they possessed sunny dispositions and sweet spirits.
If we are on God’s side, why should we not have “sweetness of temper”? In other words, to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, if God is for us, who can be against us?
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
SEPTEMBER 16, 2011 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT LUDMILLA, DUCHESS OF BOHEMIA
THE FEAST OF SAINT NINIAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GALLOWAY
Common of a Monastic II
From Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church
O God, by whose grace your servant St. Gerard of Brogne, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalm 133 or 34:108 or 119:161-168
2 Corinthians 6:1-10