4 November, Thursday – 1 Beloved Sinner vs 99 Righteous People

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

Rm 14:7-12
Lk 15:1-10

…if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord.

St Paul certainly has a way of capturing the essence of our identity in Christ and our place in God’s family. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we are the Lord’s. Why then do we judge others and look down on others?

Personally I think unresolved hurts and baggage, pride and self-righteousness can cause us to judge others and look down on them. I sometimes find myself looking down on others, only to realise that people of status and virtue are truly humble and are ‘real’. It requires a change of heart on my part to see everyone as a child of God, and to ask for the grace to see them as those made in His image and likeness.

One of my friends was relating her anger and disappointment about a guy she dated, concluding that she hates all men. During the discussion, we both discovered that even those who persecute us and hurt us deeply are made in His perfect image. Being made in the image of Christ warrants love, grace and acceptance. We are His, so we have to love like Him, live like Him and even be prepared to die like Him. There is no better way for us to do this than by worshipping him on bended knee and confessing His majesty.

When we are tempted to judge the sinners among us, let us remember that we are not without sin ourselves; we are, but with different sins. We are not in a competition for ‘righteousness’ because we were made righteous by the Lamb of God and not by our own merit. The parable of the one lost sheep is a great reminder of how the Lord is after each of our hearts. He wants us to be repentant and completely in union with Him. Even if he has 99 cardinals and priests at his altar, he has, and continues to pursue the sinful me/us.

His love for us is so great that He has prepared a place in His perfect Home for us. He is truly interested in the ‘happily ever after’ with each of us – the sinner, the righteous — we are all His. He wants us all safe, just as a shepherd herds His sheep and the widow looks for that one lost coin — He is after us at all cost. How do we know this? He continues to do it for us every minute of the day, even while we sleep and if, for some reason, we are not able to see His hands in our life, it is impossible to deny what he did for us that day at Calvary.

Today, let us get real with our walk with Christ. Is there any area in our life where we do not feel His presence, His gentle touch and His coaxing voice? Let us allow Him in, for right now is the perfect time. Any delay on our part only causes more pain within us and creates a barrier between the Lord and us.

What is happening in our relationships? Is there someone that we are judging or have judged? Let us pray for this son or daughter of God, that we are able to love and respect this person. It is clearly not our place to decide that this person whom we look down upon, whether in the past, currently or in the future, is not worthy of our acceptance. For each of us is made worthy by Christ.

Do we apply the same standards of the 1 coin and 1 sheep with our family members? Or are we tempted to say that we have just grown apart? Are we ‘unfriending’ our friends because we are selfrighteous to an extent that this has become our right?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)

Prayer: Lord, cleanse us from the habit of judgment and condemnation. Help us to remember that you did not judge us and help us to be more like you in our relationships. Guard all our relationships so that in those relationships, it will be reflected that we are truly yours.

Thanksgiving: Lord, we want to gaze upon your loveliness and be residents of your holy temple. As we wait on you, we believe that we shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. Thank you for consistently pursuing us with your perfect Love.

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