4 November, Wednesday — Rejoicing

Nov 4 – Memorial for St. Charles Borromeo, bishop

St. 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, 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

Phi 2:12-18
Lk 14:25-33

“Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

How is it that when I suddenly have the conviction to follow Christ, He shows me straightaway what is required? Yesterday, we read of how Christ invites us without criteria or condition, regardless of our worthiness, to join in his banquet; but in today’s readings, we see the need also for renouncing our dear ones and our possessions.

Indeed, our God is one who will not portray something to attract us, but rather, gives us what we need, in order that we may reach our destination.

In the first reading, we are called to be obedient, especially when it seems that no one is watching. We can’t say we are following Christ if we are merely putting on a show for others to see. Christ reminds us that all we have is given to us from above. Let’s not be a culture that complains and compares, but one that shines out to be grateful and rejoices instead, for we are living a life of holiness by our actions.

The things of this world, we can’t take with us when we depart. We shouldn’t allow those to take from us our peace, purpose, rejoicing and more importantly, Christ. Even though it may seem that following Christ is dull, not recognised, odd, not valued, doesn’t guarantee a ‘better’ life, Christ encourages us to persevere and continue to carry our cross for when He sees all, especially those done in secret, His suffering wouldn’t have been in vain and He will be proud.

In carrying His cross, while we too join Him in His suffering, we too receive His graces, His mercy, His peace, His courage, His hope, His love. And that is His wish for all us, to bask and rejoice in His love for us. The things of the world will one day fade, but He will never fade.

As we approach the end of a ‘memorable’ year, we want to rejoice and be grateful for so many things. We can do so for while we carry our crosses of suffering and pain, we know that you are here with us, your plan and your love for us is one that is very good. Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that we will continue to remain steadfast in hope and trust, especially when things seem unfair and not go our way. Help us to remain faithful and to always rejoice for we have God, who desires nothing but only the best for us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for teaching us what is important. Thank you for showing us the way and giving us what we need. Thank you for all the blessings you have given us.


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