31st Sunday in
Ordinary Time – C
My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory
Memorial and full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion]
is on Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop,
whose Feast Day is November 4.
Born on October 2, 1538 to Gilbert Borromeo, a wealthy Count, and Margaret of the powerful Medici family, young Charles had the political connections needed for an easy life. But when his uncle became Pope Pius IV, Saint Charles’ call to be a Priest was ‘complicated’ by what some called ‘special
Admittedly, his Uncle Giovanni, aka Pope Pius IV, did make him the Vatican’s Secretary of State, a Cardinal and the Archdiocese of Milan’s Administrator – even before Saint
Charles was ordained a Priest on September 4, 1563 … and made him a Bishop just 94 DAYS later, on December 7, when he was just 25 years old. However, as his orations suggest, Saint Charles did not let power or position, family wealth or prestige, go to his head!
Collect – Saint Charles Borromeo, Bishop
Preserve in the midst of your people, we ask,
O Lord, the spirit with which you filled the Bishop Saint Charles Borromeo, that your Church may be constantly renewed and,
by conforming herself to the likeness of Christ,
may show his face to the world.
Who lives and reigns … for ever and ever. Amen.
WE MUST BE CONSTANTLY RENEWED.
The Church in Saint Charles’ time was in sad shape; the hierarchy was often corrupt; clergy were uncommitted; most people knew little dogma; liturgical abuses were rampant. Protestantism rightly called for renewal, but ‘threw out the baby with the bath water’ and was also often politically motivated. As a Cardinal and Bishop, Saint Charles sought to implement the Council of Trent’s ‘new’ reforms: he mandated seminary formation; established ‘Confraternities of Christian Doctrine’ [CCD] to teach the Faith to children; convened synods to correct abuses and promote liturgical changes; helped compose the breviary [the daily prayers said by the ordained] – among many other things!
But his reforms were met with ridicule or outright rebellion from Priests and some brother Bishops; and even some Popes tried to ‘derail him!’ In art, he holds a crucifix because a Priest tried to shoot him, but the bullet ricocheted off the crucifix, sparing Charles’ life! Though often viciously oppressed, he calmly, gently sought to win over his enemies; he even forgave the Priest who shot him and those who tried to stab him to death. When we dislike a liturgical change or Church policy, may we be a bit more ‘Christian!’
Prayer over the Offerings – Saint Charles Borromeo
Look, O Lord, upon the offering placed on your altar in commemoration of Saint Charles,
and grant by the power of this sacrifice
that, as you made him an attentive pastor,
outstanding in the merit of his virtues, so you may make us abound in good fruit by our works.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Church has only one Pastor: the Pope; a Diocese has only one Bishop; a Parish has only one Pastor [don’t forget it! J]; but each Christian must ‘pastor’ whatever flock God entrusts to him or her. This is a solemn duty for Parents and Catechists who MUST be attentive to and supportive of those God may be calling to a religious vocation. On his Feast Day, ask Saint Charles, Patron of Seminarians – with whom he is also often depicted – to help you ‘find’ new Priests and Deacons, Sisters and Brothers.
Prayer after Communion – Saint Charles Borromeo
May the sacred mysteries of which we
have partaken, O Lord, we pray, give us
that determination which made Saint Charles
faithful in ministry and fervent in charity.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Despite all his ‘church’ work, Charles made time for and generously gave to the poor. When a plague decimated his Diocese, he marched – barefoot, with a rope around his neck – in a public penitential act to beseech divine healing. While such acts are no longer practiced, what do we do for penance? Saint Charles Borromeo, pray for us.
In His holy Name,
Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS