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A little-known Church Father

I was resistant for a long time to looking on a daily basis at the Office of Readings, a practised strongly encouraged for Secular Carmelites. But actually of course these parts of the Divine Office are richly educational and inspirational. Today we have a reading from one of the lesser-known Church Fathers, St Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/477-527/533). I looked him up on the net to find out about more about him (he lived in modern-day Tunisia) and was struck by this report: on learning of her son's decision to enter a monastery, his mother Mariana, who evidently had never been told of Fulgentius's wish, was very upset. She rushed to the gates of the monastery, demanding to know how a church that was supposed to protect widows could deprive her of her only son. Her protestations were ineffective, and Fulgentius was ultimately confirmed in his vocation. This reminds me of a point I made a while ago, about the extreme difficulty for us of making a sacrifice which at the same time inflicts a painful sacrifice on others. Our own sacrifice is voluntary, but theirs is forced on them by our free choice. Also of course, in turning the guilt screws, Mariana did have a valid point! So often moral choices are not about good vs bad but about balancing one good against anoher.

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