Saint Gontran – King and Confessor March 28th

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Saint Gontran – 532 A.D. – 592 A.D.

As we travel through these last weeks of lent…with our eyes gazing longingly, towards the Cross, let us remember that even though we are in penitential days filled with prayers, fasting and alms giving… there is a kind of subtle joy that stirs our hearts… We are now more than halfway to Easter and our anticipation… our hope… in the coming Resurrection of Christ, will help us as we walk the way of the Cross with the Lord, entering His passion; shouldering our crosses; lifting our eyes towards Calvary…hoping that somehow we will come out on the backside of Lent, better than we came in…

As Catholics…as Christians...we should embrace this time of penance…Even though at times it may be difficult, we should always pause and give thanks to God for His mercy…this awesome opportunity He gives each of us…to seek out His forgiveness. We have a loving Father who never tires of us…even with our faults and our failings…He will forgive us as long as we are sorry for our sins…”a contrite heart, He will not spurn”

Today’s saint, St. Gontran is a perfect example of God’s mercy…and forgiveness… King Gontran was a man who lived for years turned away from the Lord. His life was seeped in sin and evil deeds. He ruled over his kingdom with a barbarian manner. His name actually means ‘war raven’. He was first married to a former slave, who after he divorced her, became jealous and tried to poison another of his wives. He then married a woman named Mercatrude, but after years of marriage, he decided he no longer liked living with her so he divorced her, and went on to marry a third wife. All the while he was living a pagan lifestyle and his personal life was in shambles. A low point in the king’s life was when his ex- wife Mercatrude became ill, the King sent for a doctor to cure her, but when no cure could be found, he had the doctor murdered. It was at this point the king had a conversion of heart. It seems, the ‘good’ king was like the rest of us in regards to having to hit rock bottom, before lifting his eyes towards the Lord and turning his life around…

King Gontran became Catholic and was eventually overcome with remorse for the sins of his past life. He fell upon the mercy of God and spent the rest of his remaining years repenting of his sins, both for himself and for his nation. In atonement, he fasted, prayed, wept, and offered himself to God. Throughout the balance of his prosperous reign he attempted to govern by Christian principles. According to St. Gregory of Tours, he was the protector of the oppressed, caregiver to the sick, and the tender parent to his subjects. He was generous with his wealth, especially in times of plague and famine. He was strict and just when enforcing the law without respect to person, yet was ever ready to forgive offenses against himself, including two attempted assassinations. Gontran magnificently built and endowed many churches and monasteries. St. Gregory related that the king performed many miracles both before and after his death, some of which St. Gregory claimed to have witnessed himself. He was buried in the church of St. Marcellus, which he had founded. The Huguenots scattered his ashes in the sixteenth century: only his skull escaped their fury, and is now kept there in a silver case.

This great saint is a prime example of how with God’s mercy, each of us has an opportunity to turn our lives around. Even if we have been caught up in our sinfulness for years. He will always forgive a repentant heart… Our Lord is  just and merciful.  He has the ability…and the desire… to help each of us become good and holy people. So as we make our way through these final days of Lent, let us remember that we are called to turn away from our own sinfulness...our anger…our pride…our slothfulness… anything that is preventing us from uniting our hearts to God … anything that diminishes His light in us…Remember, with God’s mercy and grace we can be transformed into saints…and by doing so…we can help transform those around us. Saint Gontran, pray for us.

 

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