S. Charles Borromeo| SS. Vitalis and Agricola| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
St. Charles Borromeo
The name of St. Charles Borromeo is associated with reform. He lived during the time of the Protestant Reformation, and had a hand in the reform of the whole Church during the final years of the Council of Trent (1545-63).
Although he belonged to Milanese nobility and was related to the powerful Medici family, he desired to devote himself to the Church. When his uncle, Cardinal de Medici, was elected pope in 1559 as Pius IV, he made Charles cardinal-deacon and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan while he was still a layman and a young student. Because of his intellectual qualities he was entrusted with several important offices connected with the Vatican and later appointed secretary of state with responsibility for the papal states.
The untimely death of his elder brother brought Charles to a definite decision to be ordained a priest, despite relatives’ insistence that he marry. Soon after he was ordained a priest at the age of 25, he was consecrated bishop of Milan.
Because of his work at the Council of Trent, he was not allowed to take up residence in Milan until the Council was over. Charles had encouraged the pope to renew the Council in 1562 after it had been suspended for 10 years. Working behind the scenes, St. Charles deserves the credit for keeping the Council in session when at several points it was on the verge of breaking up. He took upon himself the task of the entire correspondence during the final phase.
Eventually Charles was allowed to devote his time to the Archdiocese of Milan, where the religious and moral picture was far from bright. The reform needed in every phase of Catholic life among both clergy and laity was initiated at a provincial council of all the bishops under him. Specific regulations were drawn up for bishops and other clergy: If the people were to be converted to a better life, he had to be the first to give a good example and renew their apostolic spirit.
Charles took the initiative in giving good example. He allotted most of his income to charity, forbade himself all luxury and imposed severe penances upon himself. He sacrificed wealth, high honors, esteem and influence to become poor. During the plague and famine of 1576, he tried to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people daily. To do this he borrowed large sums of money that required years to repay. Whereas the civil authorities fled at the height of the plague, he stayed in the city, where he ministered to the sick and the dying, helping those in want.
Work and the heavy burdens of his high office began to affect his health. He died at the age of 46.
St. Charles made his own the words of Christ: "...I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me" (Matthew 25:35-36).
Charles saw Christ in his neighbor and knew that charity done for the least of his flock was charity done for Christ.
"Christ summons the Church, as she goes her pilgrim way, to that continual reformation of which she always has need, in so far as she is an institution of men here on earth. Consequently, if, in various times and circumstances, there have been deficiencies in moral conduct or in Church discipline, or even in the way that Church teaching has been formulated—to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself—these should be set right at the opportune moment and in the proper way" (Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, 6, Austin Flannery translation).
Also today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate SS. Vitalis and Agricola, Martyrs. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
ST. AMBROSE informs us that Agricola was a gentleman of Bologna, whose behaviour in the world had engaged the affection of the idolaters amongst whom he lived. Vitalis, his slave, learned from him the Christian religion, and first received the crown; for the servant and the freeman are one and the same thing in Christ, nor is there any difference from their condition in their reward. They were both seized, probably in the year 304, and Vitalis first put to the torture. He ceased not to praise God so long as he had the use of his tongue; and seeing no part of his body left which was not covered with wounds and blood, he prayed Jesus Christ to receive his soul, and to bestow on him that crown which his angel had shown him. His prayer was no sooner ended than he gave up the ghost. Agricola’s execution was deferred out of a cruel compassion, that time and the sight of the sufferings of his faithful servant might daunt his resolution. But he was animated and encouraged by such an example. Whereupon the affection of the judges and people was converted into fury; and the martyr was hung on a cross, and his body pierced with so many huge nails that the number of his wounds surpassed that of his limbs. The bodies of the martyrs were laid in the burial place of the Jews. St. Ambrose flying from the arms of the tyrant Eugenius, came to Bologna in 393, and there discovered these relics. He took to himself some of the blood that was found in the bottom of the grave, and the cross and nails which were the instruments of Agricola’s martyrdom. Juliana, a devout widow of Florence, invited him to dedicate a church she had built in that city, and begged of him this treasure, which he was not able to refuse her, and the value of which he much extols to her three daughters, bidding them receive with respect these presents of salvation, which were laid under the altar. See St. Ambrose, Exhort. ad Virginit. c. 1, 2. St. Gregory of Tours, l. de Glor. Mart. c. 44.
If we consider all that God has done for us in the past, we might begin to understand that there is nothing we have not been given. And once we know we have it all, it is only natural to want to share that with others.
This coming Christmas, bring that little bit of Jesus you carry in your heart wherever he directs you.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Avoid any little worry or uneasiness which impedes the effects of patience.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Five: 263-326
As we begin Notebook Five, Saint Faustina’s understanding of the Mercy of God should be more alive to you. Hopefully you have a deeper understanding of the infinite love of God and His burning desire to embrace you, free you from the burden of sin, and shower you with His grace.
It should also be clear that God is silent at times so as to strengthen you, purify you and deepen your trust in Him. God’s wisdom and His ways are beyond what we could ever imagine. He is perfect in His love and you must have full confidence in the direction He gives to your life.
As we enter into this notebook, try to believe and live all that you have read so far. It’s one thing to believe it intellectually, it’s quite another thing to believe it with your actions. You must believe in the Mercy of God with your actions. You must let all that you have read take hold of you and direct the way you live. One way to do this is to go back to any reflections that have stood out so far. If something has stood out, be it a particular reflection or a general theme, pay attention to that. The Message of Mercy is broad and all encompassing, but it’s also particular to you. Let the Lord speak directly to you revealing the specific truths that you need to embrace the most.
Reflection 308: A Mother’s Love
It’s true that no earthly image can fully reveal the perfect love of God. God is transcendent and His love is beyond what this world can contain. But nonetheless, there are many things in this world that do reveal aspects of the love of God. One such image is that of a mother’s love. Though God has been revealed to us as the Father in Heaven and the Son of God came as a man, we can discover much about the love of God from a mother’s love. In fact, it is even appropriate to understand that God is like the tenderest mother to us. Motherhood is sacred because it is part of the natural design of God for humanity. He puts into a mother’s heart a powerful love for her child, offering unwavering commitment. Though no mother is perfect except our Blessed Mother, it’s good to look at the beauty of a mother’s love when using it to understand God. The tenderness and unconditional acceptance of a mother stand out as two aspects that reveal the love of God. God does love you with a perfect motherly love. Though this may not be the most common way to speak of His love, it is of great benefit to ponder this beautiful revelation from creation (See Diary#1490).
How do you see God? Reflect upon your image of God and rely first upon the various images in Scripture. But also ponder the many natural means through which God communicates His love. Ponder, today, especially the love that a mother has for her newborn infant. Reflect upon the unique and powerful draw she has and her unwavering commitment. The Lord loves you infinitely more. Always find comfort in this love.
Lord, I thank You for loving me with a perfect love. I thank You for the gift of motherhood and for the way that You reveal Your unconditional and tender love for me through this gift. Help me to always know of this love and to seek You as an infant seeks a mother. Jesus, I trust in You.