4 November, Monday – Revoking Gifts

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

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Romans 11:29-36

God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.

Just as you changed from being disobedient to God, and now enjoy mercy because of their disobedience, so those who are disobedient now – and only because of the mercy shown to you – will also enjoy mercy eventually. God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.

How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge – and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods! Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor? Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything?

All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.

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Luke 14:12-14

Jesus said to his host, one of the leading Pharisees, ‘When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations or rich neighbours, for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; that they cannot pay you back means that you are fortunate, because repayment will be made to you when the virtuous rise again.’

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God never takes back his gifts

“God never takes back His gifts or revokes His choice.” This should bring great comfort to you; it certainly does for me.

I must admit that I have an unreasonable fear of losing possessions, be it something of little importance like a sweater, or something of more importance like a credit card. The anxiety is proportionate to the value I place on the object, whether it be monetary or sentimental. This extends to the very essence of my being. Everything I have, everything I am, are all gifts from God. I fear greatly that God may rescind His generosity and take His gifts back. We all know the saying “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh”. That saying has caused me great anxiety. In my juvenile thinking, I had thought that if I tried to be good and pray with fervour, God will not take away all that He has given. How silly am I?

This anxiety has turned into fear and limits the joy and happiness that God offers me. I was too caught up in the worldly comforts, possessions and other transient obsessions. Leaving little room to truly appreciate the greatest gift He has given us – Jesus, His only Son. God offers His love and mercy to all freely and without reserve. Often, it is us who refuses to accept His gift. He never takes His gift back. In fact, it is still being offered today, every day.

Sure, God has given us our family, our friends, our home, our jobs, our possessions, etc and these people and things are all gifts from God too. Yes, they may be come and go or change through time. But that doesn’t mean that God has taken His gifts away. It simply means that He has better options for us. We may not understand or even like what He offers, but we simply must trust that our Heavenly Father has our best interest at heart. Much like a parent who offers a child some candy, but if the child gorges himself or herself on the candy without sharing, the parent will replace the candy with healthier snacks.

I am still struggling with attachments to worldly goods. I also trust that God, through His infinite mercy, will help me to break those bad habits and re-align my attachment to His true gift – Jesus. The only gift I need.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Winnie Kung)

Prayer:  Dear Lord, help us to break our attachments to worldly goods and re-align ourselves to heavenly goals. Jesus, we trust in you.

Thanksgiving: Heavenly Father, thank you for the greatest gift – Jesus. He is all that we need, and all that we want.

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