St. Cuthbert lived in England in the seventh century. He was a poor shepherd boy who loved to play games with his friends. He was very good at them, too. One of his friends scolded him for loving to play so much. In fact, his playmate said words that he didn't seem to be saying himself. The child said, "Cuthbert, how can you waste your time playing games when you have been chosen to be a priest and a bishop?" Cuthbert was confused and very impressed. He wondered if he really was going to be a priest and a bishop.
In August, 651, fifteen-year-old Cuthbert had a religious experience. He saw a totally black sky. Suddenly a bright beam of light moved across it. In the light were angels carrying a ball of fire up beyond the sky. Sometime later, Cuthbert learned that the same night of the vision, the bishop, St. Aiden, had died. Cuthbert did not know how this all involved him, but he made up his mind about his life's vocation and entered a monastery. Cuthbert became a priest and a bishop.
From one village to another, from house to house, St. Cuthbert went, on horse or on foot. He visited the people to help them spiritually. Best of all, he could speak the dialect of the peasants because he had once been a poor shepherd boy. He did good everywhere and brought many people to God. Cuthbert was cheerful and kind. People felt attracted to him and no one was afraid of him. He was also a prayerful, holy monk.
When Cuthbert was ordained a bishop, he worked just as hard as ever to help his people. He visited them no matter how difficult the travel on poor roads or in very bad weather. As he lay dying, Cuthbert urged his monks to live in peace and charity with everyone. He died peacefully in 687.
Let us pray today for those who are called to leadership in the Church-in our parishes, dioceses and throughout the world-that these people may have the wisdom and courage necessary to offer their gifts in service.