Nov 4 – Memorial for St. Charles Borromeo, bishop
Charles (1538-1584) was born to a wealthy, noble family, the third of six children, and the son of Count Giberto II Borromeo and Marghertita de’ Medici. He was the nephew of Pope Pius IV. He suffered from a speech impediment, but studied in Milan, and at the University of Pavia, at one point studying under the future Pope Gregory XIII.
He became a civil and canon lawyer at the age of 21, and a cleric at Milan, taking the habit on Oct 13, 1547. He became Abbot of three different abbeys until Jan 13, 1560. He was protonotary apostolic participantium and referendary of the papal court to Pope Pius IV. He was also a member of the counsulta for the administration of the Papal States on Jan 20, 1560. He was appointed abbot commendatario for an abbey in Portugal, and an abbey in Flanders on Jan 27, 1560.
On Jan 31, 1560, he was apostolic administrator of Milan, Italy, on Feb 8, 1560, then a papal legate to Bologna and Romandiola for two years beginning on Apr 26, 1560. He was made a deacon on Dec 21, 1560, and appointed Vatican Secretary of State. He was made an honorary citizen of Rome on Jul 1, 1561, and founded the “Accademia Vaticana” in 1562.
He was finally ordained on Sep 4, 1563, and helped reopen the Council of Trent, and participated in its sessions during 1562 and 1563. He was ordained Bishop of Milan on Dec 7, 1563 and was President of the commission of theologians charged by the pope to elaborate the Catechismus Romanus. He also worked on the revision of the Missal and Breviary, and was a member of a commission to reform church music.
He participated in the conclave of cardinals in 1565-66 that chose Pope Pius V, and he asked the new pope to take the name. Due to his enforcement of strict ecclesiastical discipline, some disgruntled monks in the order of the Humiliati hired a lay brother to murder him on the evening of Oct 26, 1569. He was shot at, but not hit.
He also participated in the conclave in 1572 that chose Pope Gregory XIII. He worked with the sick, and helped bury the dead during the plague outbreak in Milan in 1576. He established the Oblates of St. Ambrose on Apr 26, 1578, and was a teacher, confessor, and parish priest to St. Aloysius Gonzaga, giving him his first communion on Jul 22, 1580.
Charles spent his life and fortune in the service of the people of his diocese. He directed and fervently enforced the decrees of the Council of Trent, fought tirelessly for peace in the wake of the storm caused by Martin Luther, founded schools for the poor, seminaries for clerics, hospitals for the sick, conducted synods, instituted children’s Sunday school, did great public and private penance, and worked among the sick and dying, leading his people by example.
He is patron saint for bishops; catechists; catechumens; seminarians; spiritual directors; and spiritual leaders.
Prayer to St. Charles Borromeo
O Saintly reformer, animator of spiritual renewal of priests and religious, you organized true seminaries and wrote a standard catechism. Inspire all religious teachers and authors of catechetical books. Move them to love and transmit only that which can form true followers of the Teacher who was divine. Amen.
– Patron Saint Index
Romans 11:1-2, 11-12, 25-29
Let me put a further question: is it possible that God has rejected his people? Of course not. I, an Israelite, descended from Abraham through the tribe of Benjamin, could never agree that God had rejected his people, the people he chose specially long ago. Do you remember what scripture says of Elijah – how he complained to God about Israel’s behaviour? Let me put another question then: have the Jews fallen for ever, or have they just stumbled? Obviously they have not fallen for ever: their fall, though, has saved the pagans in a way the Jews may now well emulate. Think of the extent to which the world, the pagan world, has benefited from their fall and defection – then think how much more it will benefit from the conversion of them all. There is a hidden reason for all this, brothers, of which I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do. One section of Israel has become blind, but this will last only until the whole pagan world has entered, and then after this the rest of Israel will be saved as well. As scripture says: The liberator will come from Zion, he will banish godlessness from Jacob. And this is the covenant I will make with them when I take their sins away.
The Jews are enemies of God only with regard to the Good News, and enemies only for your sake; but as the chosen people, they are still loved by God, loved for the sake of their ancestors. God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.
On a sabbath day Jesus had gone for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they watched him closely. He then told the guests a parable, because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. He said this, ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited, and the person who invited you both may come and say, “Give up your place to this man.” And then, to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. No; when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there, so that, when your host comes, he may say, “My friend, move up higher.” In that way, everyone with you at the table will see you honoured. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’
I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do.
Most of my friends will call me a no-nonsense kind of a person; take no prisoners. I simply cannot stand it when someone is constantly late for appointments or meetings. When something needs to get done, I see through a person’s excuse for not putting in their fair share of work. I hate it that people worm their way out of things. I used to give my colleagues and friends the killer look or a sarcastic one-liner. They would know when I am annoyed.
But there is another side of me not many people see – I am a real softie at heart. I hate seeing the wee old man selling tissue packs (though I know that it’s a syndicate fleecing us), or the little old lady painstakingly collecting cardboard boxes and peering into trash bins looking for cans. My heart aches just a little when I hear personal stories about how they give up ‘normal lives’ that you and I take for granted, for far more noble vocations.
I have been a benefactor of sorts for a particular individual for some time. Simply because this person has given up much. It gives me immense joy to be able to do something for this person and I really do not expect anything in return. Or so I thought. Recently, I felt a little taken for granted. And I started to resent what I was doing. I started to resent the person as well. Why was I doing so much without getting a single ‘Thank you. That was nice of you!’ In fact, to this person, I am hardly visible. So for a long while, I simply stopped. I harboured hurt, indignation and disappointment.
Today’s gospel reading tells us that the person who deems himself distinguished, may well have to take a hit in his own self-importance. But the humble will be exalted. In both scenarios, I am far from humble.
In Scenario 1, I was judging people by my own ridiculously high standards, refusing to see or acknowledge that there might be a really good reason for people being late, or not doing something they were meant to do. Even if they were really just lazy or disrespectful of other people’s time, who am I to judge?
As for Scenario 2, I was brought down to earth! One afternoon, I was reflecting on Luke 16: 19-31 (The story of the rich man & Lazarus). “Who would have gladly eaten his fill of scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” At this time, I was still in ‘resentment’ mode. These words sprung to my mind….Be humble and not haughty. You think you are generous? For it is easy to be generous with those we love. Are you doing this for them or yourself? It appeared I was being reprimanded by our Lord. As I thought about it more, was I really doing this for the love of a brethren? Or was I doing this to feel good about myself?
“My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a lavish giver. The greater you are, the more humbly you should behave, and then you will find favour with the Lord; for great is the power of God, by the humble he is glorified” Sirach 4:17-19.
In today’s first reading, Saint Paul told the Romans ‘I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do.’ Do I know everything and the circumstances about the person who has hurt me? Am I being too quick to jump to conclusions and thus end up judging someone indiscriminately?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Father, teach us to not be so judgmental and self-important that we don’t take the time to walk in the other person’s shoes. Forgive us for our wilful and stubborn ways. May we not get so caught up in getting things done in the busy-ness of life that we hurt and trample upon others with our callous words. Teach us Lord, humility, in every aspect of our lives.
Thanksgiving: Thank You Lord, for caring for each and every one of us as individuals. Though You are perfect, You are God; You never expected us to be perfect. Flawed as we are, You still love us so much. Thank You, Lord.