Feast of St. Charles Borromeo
We continue our journey through our annual November commemoration of saintly people, and today we thank God for the person of Charles Borromeo — a zealous man of the 16th Century Church, credited for helping reform the Church in a variety of ways.
As a bishop and Cardinal, Charles was one to encourage the intellectual and moral growth of clergy and religious, especially in forming new seminaries. He also helped author the catechism that was called for during the Council of Trent and started the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) for children’s growth in their faith. He held many special meetings in his home diocese of Milan, seeking to incorporate the message and teachings of the Council of Trent. In all this, he reached out to the poor and needy of his day, sacrificing wealth, honor and influence to serve them – even in the challenges of the plagues and famines of his day, ministering to the sick, the hungry, and the dying. Truly a zealous man during his relatively short 46 years of life!
We have the same opportunity to renew ourselves, to grow and serve as God’s People, the Church. We have to change from our old ways, and like St. Paul in today’s first reading to the Romans, we can help others change – if we first acknowledge God’s love and wisdom. Change in both in word and deed, in our prayer and service of others is critical. Jesus in today’s Gospel highlights a foundational attitude of openness and service, especially of the poor and crippled – a true change of attitude from that of the Pharisees! Today’s readings highlight a change of heart and human growth as part-and-parcel in following Jesus – a rule of life for St. Charles Borromeo!
May the creative and zealous example of St. Charles Borromeo help motivate us as 21st Century Christians: called to personally grow and be women and men of prayer and action, building up the Church in our day, with the encouragement of our worldwide Pastor, Pope Francis. Holiness and wholeness are God’s gifts to the Church of every age.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.