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.
Being wasteful with his property
The parable of the dishonest steward has stumped me for a long time. Why would the master praise the steward for his astuteness? Didn’t he just ‘double cross’ his boss again, using his boss’ resource for his very own gain? How is that astute? I would have kicked his butt up to high heaven.
However, if we understand that everything we have and own comes as a gift from God, then we are simply stewards and God is the owner of all things. So be it wealth, talent or time, we are called to be good stewards and use these to benefit others.
When I was in my 20s and 30s, I had plans for everything in life. And most of my career and financial goals fell into place. I was really pleased with myself, feeling that I had done well. At that young age, it was all about me. But as I grew older, I had to be responsible for my family, as most of you are. And as I grew in my faith journey, I began to see that it was God who gave me all I needed, it was not by my own steam.
One incident that showed His providence remains vivid on my mind. It was during a most trying period – I was extremely busy at work. I was in the midst of moving homes, finding a suitable temporary rental and renovating a new one. To top it all, my helper was due for her trip home and my wheelchair-bound dad needed a place to go. 2 weeks before everything had to happen, I still hadn’t sorted out anything. The date was looming and I was panic-stricken. I prayed so hard to God and in his mercy, He found me the perfect apartment that would allow dad to move around freely. He also led me to a Catholic nursing home which dad was happy with. It isn’t just that he gave me the solutions to my problems; He also provided me with the means to do those things. For the first time in my life, I learnt that I cannot control everything. He does. And it is He who provides. Not by my own efforts.
God can give us what we need today, and if we are not good stewards, He can quite quickly take it from us. Brothers and sisters, you may be blessed with wealth, a good job, health and talents. But are you good stewards of his gifts? Are you thinking that this is all from your own efforts? Are you making good use of all that you have to benefit others?
Whatever we possess today is a responsibility. How we use them is test of character, values and stewardship. So if we have not been trustworthy in handling possessions that produce unrighteousness, who will trust us with true riches?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: God, giver of all good things, help us to remember that everything we have and possess comes from you. Help us to be good stewards of the gifts and talents that you have given us, for the benefit of others, especially those in need. Teach us to be humble and giving.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for everything you have blessed us with today. Let us not take anything for granted.