This weekend St. Charles Borromeo Parish is celebrating our patronal feast day, November 4. Saint Charles Borromeo was born at Arona, in Lombardy, in northern Italy, on October 2, 1538, the second of two sons in a family of six. He had a lifelong speech impediment, perhaps stuttering. He received clerical tonsure at age 12. After having earned degrees in both civil and canon law in 1559, his uncle was elected Pope Pius IV. The next year the pope made him a cardinal and appointed him the administrator of the Diocese of Milan, even though he was not yet a priest. However because of a number of other papal appointments, he had to remain in Rome. When the pope decided to reconvene the Council of Trent, Charles worked hard to make this happen. The council reopened in 1562 and completed its work over the next two years. Charles was particularly active in drafting the Catechism, and in the reform of the liturgical books and church music. In 1563 he was ordained a priest and two months later, a bishop. Only after the death of Pius IV and the election of Saint Pius V could he actually reside in his diocese of Milan.
As a true pastor of his flock Charles tirelessly promoted Christian life by the reform of his diocese, the convocation of synods, and the promulgation of regulations intended to foster the Church’s mission. Concerned for the proper instruction of children, he founded the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. In 1570, during a famine, he procured supplies for the poor and himself fed about 3,000 people daily for three months. In 1576, when Milan was struck by the plague, he organized care for the sick, burial for the dead and daily food supplies for up to 70,000 people for almost two years. Weakened by frequent travel, lack of sleep, and the strain of work and worry, Charles fell ill while on his annual retreat in October 1584. He returned to Milan, received the last sacraments and died on November 3, 1584, at age 46.
At St. Peter’s we are celebrating the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews continues to show how the priesthood and the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ is more excellent than the priesthood and the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. We share in his eternal priesthood by virtue of our baptism and participate in that once-for-all sacrifice at every Mass. We, the members of his Body, gather together with Christ our Head, represented by the ordained priest, as this eternal sacrifice is made present sacramentally for our benefit and that of the whole world. There is no more perfect act of worship and no greater source of grace.
Having celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls this past week, we will celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica on Friday, November 9. This church is the pope’s cathedral as Bishop of Rome, so it is a celebration of the Church on earth. In these three feasts we celebrate the entire Mystical Body of Christ, the communion of saints. We on earth, the Church Militant, look to the saints in heaven, the Church Triumphant, for prayers and inspiration, and together we pray for the souls in purgatory, the Church Suffering.
Pray the rosary this week for the souls in purgatory. Pray for Pope Francis and the needs of the Church throughout the world. Pray for the return of those who no longer practice their faith and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.