Saints Minister to the Sick

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“If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out… Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter… Do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself.

St. Charles Borromeo

The Feast Day of November 4th celebrates the patron of learning and the arts, St. Charles Borromeo. St. Borromeo came from an illustrious Italian family.  Born in 1538 at the family castle of Arona on Lake Maggiore, Italy, he was the son of Count Gilbert Borromeo and Margaret Medici, sister of Pope Pius IV.  He studied in Paris and Milan before moving to Rome, where he acted as the Pope’s (his uncle) legate. At first, he indulged in a lavish lifestyle but gave it up to become more involved in his calling.  He is responsible for many of the reforms passed at the Council of Trent and became the Bishop of Milan in 1563.

St. Barromeo willingly gave his wealth to the poor.  When famine struck in 1570, and then the plague in 1576, he was tireless in caring for the sick of Milan.  Worn out, he died in 1584 at the age of 46. The life of a Saint is not for the faint hearted; even so, their dedication and perseverance gave joy and courage to those of whom they served.

 

Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.”

St. Charles Borromeo

Saints are practical…

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“There is nothing evil save that which perverts the mind and shackles the conscience.”

St. Ambrose

St Ambrose, also know as Aurelius Ambrosius, was born in 330 into a family that would produce three Saints: St. Ambrose along with his brother, Satyrus and sister, Marcellina.  St Ambrose’s father was the praetorian prefect of Gaul and his mother was known for her piety and intelligence.  St. Ambrose would become one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century.   This should not be surprising if you believe the legend of the bees swarming him as a baby, only to leave a drop of honey as a sign of his future eloquence.

St. Ambrose along with St. Augustine, St. Jerome and Gregory the Great, were the original Latin Doctors of the Church.  St. Ambrose’s intellect and expressiveness are highly regarded, but to me, it is his simplicity and practicality that bring his message alive.

“When in Rome, live as Romans do; when elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere.”

St. Ambrose

Saints were once children …

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“There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.”

St. Teresa of Avila

Whenever I think of saints, I envision someone old and sedate with a kind and pious demeanour. Rarely do I see them as a rambunctious child. Born in 1515, St. Teresa of Avila, a prominent Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun, ran away at the age of seven with her brother Rodrigo to find martyrdom among the Moors. She was stopped by her uncle. As a teenager, she liked taking care of her appearance and reading about medieval tales of knighthood, the popular fiction of the time. When St. Teresa was 14, her mother died. She took refuge in a deeper commitment to the Virgin Mary, her spiritual mother. Experiences in childhood create a foundation upon which to build a life. St. Teresa of Avila devoted her entire days to God’s work. Forty years after her death in 1622, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV. In 1970, Pope Paul VI named her a Doctor of the Church.

“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.”

St. Teresa of Avila

Saints Around Us

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“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”

St. Francis of Assisi

October 31st and Halloween has come and gone with a gallant promise to return next year. In the meantime, November 1st celebrates All Saints Day. This special day commemorates those who have walked the earth before us, and have achieved something that is quite extraordinary. They have attained what is known as the beatific vision in heaven.

I have known many Saints in my life, still living. These are the people who have been with me through joyous, sad and difficult times. With a word, a smile or a hug, I gained strength via their compassionate understanding. Let us celebrate the Saints that are among us by looking back at those Saints that have reached the vision of heaven.

St. Francis of Assisi is called the little poor man of Assisi, which is ironic considering he was brought up in luxury and wealth. His journey began when he gave money to a beggar crying for alms. His friends mocked him for his generosity and his father rebuked him for wasting his money. Shortly thereafter, St. Francis became seriously ill. When death was imminent, he received a vision of his ministry. From that moment on, his life was placed in God’s hands.

“Where there is injury let me sow pardon.”

“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”

St. Francis of Assisi