Mar 11th - Eulogius of Cordoba
There is a narrative we like to dredge up every once in a while that tells of good slave masters, tolerant religious and political leaders, and individual acts of kindness in juxtaposition to the reality that we know to have been bad: an idealized version of history where things were bad, but not everyone was bad, so it's okay.
And that is true to a point, at least about people doing good amidst the sin and evil but for true good and not with blinders. Often, during the excesses and evil done by temporally powerful people and mobs, the everyday lives of everyday people are filled with kindness and love. But it is also a false story we can tell ourselves to justify the evil that we and others do.
We know of neighborhoods where different cultures, beliefs, and races live in day-to-day harmony until that moment when war and hate invade to tear them apart. Some get swept up in the rhetoric, others try to live their humanity.
But we cannot white-wash the evil we do to each other, nor can it be erased by the acts of a few individuals. While those selfless acts might remind us of our humanity, they often pale to the inhumanity we practice on one another.
Still, God is not suppressed. Good takes place amidst evil because God has ordained it to be so. Our freewill jams up the process but God's loving salvation creeps in and overwhelms it.
It is our own hatreds and biases that perpetuate evil. We live by "an eye for an eye."
In an effort to humanize we sometimes only point out the good but this is only because we have demonized for so long in the first place. And while the process of humanization is necessary and important it cannot erase or ignore the dehumanization we have have visited on one another.
Eulogius lived in such a time, where hatred, mistrust, suspicion, and violence colored the view of two peoples and it cost his life and the life of so many others on both sides. We live in such a time now.
It is our job to cut through the narrative and live so as to create a new narrative, one not driven by vengeance but were God's love rules the day and narrates the actions of one person to another.
Eulogius to Albarus my most dear brother in the Lord Jesus Christ:
Once, my brother, invigorated by domestic tranquillity and with family cares pacified I prospered and was rather comfortable. But when we were all suddenly thrown into disarray from the martyrdom of the blessed Isaac and the whole city was still reeling in shock from that, all - both clerics and laypersons alike - began to greatly revere that martyrdom and extol the constancy of such a great preacher with the greatest honor. And while the gathering righteous indignation was inflaming many and driving groups of the faithful to go into the forum and decry the enemy of the church with the profession of the faith sent forward, all those who had been terrified by the anger of the savage tyrant changed their opinions with unheard of alacrity, as they detracted and cursed and declared both those who do such things and those who support them to be guilty of great crime, with very few (as you yourself are not unaware) separated from the sacrilege of such things, as they had in no way changed their first opinion about the venerability of the saints. Concerning this matter I strove to engage in this effort and to shape the this humble little book to receive strength through the Lord's help, so that rendering its testimony about us to future generations I should either attain the infamy of being a liar or the title of praise from them, since we nonetheless hope to receive the prize of the defender of justice from the Lord on account of this. This work was almost finished when the decision of the furious governor sent me to the horrible prisons, with all my family in shock from the break-in by the state personnel. As the work had been written on various papers and leads, I thought that it had been dispersed through various means to many. But then with the Lord's preservation, now amid the narrow confinements of prison, and at last with His help, that work not only merited to be finished, but also to be transcribed elsewhere and then chose itself to be known to no one else other than you first, because it does not dare to be publicized to others, lest the raw draft should provide our adversaries an opportunity for detraction, lest the unpolished discourse display a source of ridicule for the hateful ones. Hence to you, most dear brother, who can judge my paltry knowledge, I arranged to first transmit the work still written as it is on cheap parchments, so that if you approve it, polished by brotherly judgement, it may be revealed. If you disapprove, it should be silent. And from there let the armed right-hand cut through the wedges of mutterings with a step that cannot fail and let it make its way to its faithful in victory, so that in imbuing the Catholic flock with simple exhortation, whatever it has merited of glory, may be subject to your praises and may you apply your blessing of it. But if you decree that it is inane, caught up in the whirlwinds of its sluggishness and should be put to sleep in eternal silence, then no one will be able to mock it when it is mute, no one will be able to defame it as it is silent. So I beseech your serenity, driven by the kindness by which we are both unshakably joined together, that you should peruse and emend this work we have decided to call Memoriale Sanctorum, and that you refine it through review, and if it will bear the merit of its name, you should strengthen it by your testimony so that you may rejoice with the very same saints about whom we speak with the memory of your name ascribed in the heavenly page, so long as the grace of their intervention has attained for me a place of resting in the last corner of paradise. Amen. Goodbye in the Lord Jesus Christ, most serene brother.
-- Letter of Eulogius to Albarus of Córdoba
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