RAISE A JAEGERMEISTER TODAY!
Before Sept. 20th gets too much in the past, I want to mention today’s saint whose emblem you may have seen before –
There on the label of a bottle of Jaegermeister is a picture of a stag – a big deer with his horns, and in the middle of the horns you will always see a cross, usually a bright and shining cross.
What’s a Jaegermeister? That’s German for Hunting Master, and you’ll find them all over European estates – someone to be responsible for hunting (and conservation) on the landowner’s property — in previous centuries, I guess, when there was law and order and a social hierarchy that made sense.
The picture on the label was chosen to represent St. Eustachius, the patron saint of hunters, because of a life-changing event in the man’s life.
His name used to be “Placidus” and he was a valued and skillful general in the Emperor Trajan’s army (in Rome), so that makes him alive when St. John was still alive, who knew Jesus personally. But that didn’t matter to Placidus at first.
Placidus enjoyed hunting and his high rank allowed him adequate leisure for this sport.
One day, deep in a forest, he saw a big stag with a light coming from the space between his great antlers. As Placidus got closer, he saw that the light was actually in the form of a cross, with Jesus crucified on that cross. As he stared at this sight, he heard a voice. It’s not recorded what he heard, but he immediately became a follower of Jesus.
He could have remained serving Trajan in the army, but almost right after his conversion, he began to lose all those things that had meant so much to him as a Roman general. He lost all his wealth, all his possessions, and then, of course, he lost his status in the Roman army. Throughout these extreme reversals of fortune, he did not lose his faith. This was a blessed trial. He changed his name to “Eustachius” — a name indicating good and steady.
He was married and had two daughters, so he found a job as the caretaker for a rich landowner. There he would have stayed, but for some very bad news that Trajan received:
Barbarians were attacking the borders and Trajan needed a good general to take care of the situation. He searched for and found Eustachius, who once again served his emperor well and successfully. A great patriotic celebration was held.
Patriotic, including thanking the gods.
Which Eustachius could no longer do, since that would mean denying the one True God, whom he now served.
He and his whole family were arrested and all found “guilty” of being “of those Christians” whom Trajan was trying to eliminate from his empire. Some accounts say his trial and imprisonment occurred near Mt. Ararat!
He was sentenced to be put to death by lions, a common wild animal in those parts. But on the day that his sentence was carried out, the lions, according to reports, became “tame” and would not kill Eustachius.
Sometimes this happens, but I don’t know why. It seems horrible enough to go through, only to wait and wait and then it doesn’t “work” — you have not been taken to Heaven.
A substitute penalty was ordered.
That one worked. I hope it was fast. The fires under a brass bull could be counted on to do the job.
A person who dies for love of Christ is a martyr and we believe Heaven opens up for him at the moment of death. They say if we can go to Heaven, that “the things of the Earth” will seem very dim and far away. Such a death will seem like a small and insignificant price compared to the indescribable experience of being in the presence of God and His glory.
That is St. Eustachius. He knew that being a Christian meant going against his culture. Being a Christian is no guarantee for happiness in this world, but it doesn’t matter, because that’s not where your focus is anymore. Christ is ahead of you, and you follow Him. And it’s worth more than anything you could possibly lose that this world offers.
Your government may not like you. And you may become a martyr.
St. Eustachius began his adventure with a stag hunt in the woods. Patron saint of hunters. Perhaps he’s looking down on other hunters . . . hoping for the best for them.