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 we are celebrating the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today’s Second Reading recalls the once-for-all self-sacrifice of Jesus for the redemption of humanity. Jesus is the Eternal High Priest not prevented by death from remaining in office, whose sacrifice is perfect because the one offering—Jesus—and the one offered—Jesus—is without sin. Furthermore, because Jesus is the eternal Son of God, his self-sacrifice is of infinite value and is timeless. Offered at one moment in time and at one geographic location, its effects benefit the whole of humanity—people of every time and place. This is how we can be the beneficiaries of the sacrifice of Calvary even though we are far removed by both centuries and miles. Yet through the mystery of the Church we are able to be present for this sacrifice whenever we gather for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of Calvary—as Christ’s redeeming sacrifice is not repeated, but is re-presented—made present again—through the ministry of the ordained priest. As members of the Body of Christ by virtue of baptism, all Christ’s faithful who participate in the Mass exercise their common priesthood and offer the eucharistic sacrifice in praise and thanksgiving to God who has saved us from sin and death.
Today’s Gospel gives us the example of a poor widow whom Jesus praises because of the generous sacrifice she made to the temple treasury. The amount was not as important as the love with which it was given. Likewise, the widow in today’s First Reading gave what she could not afford to give when asked to do so by the man of God, Elijah. Each of us ought to examine our willingness to contribute to the support of the Church, whether to our parish, the Diocesan Annual Appeal, the Mission Sunday Appeal, our Catholic schools, or other missions or ministries that need our support. It is not the amount that is as important as the fact that we can give something and the love with which it is given. Where would we be without these ministries? Where would we be without the sacraments? Taking account of the blessings that come to us from God through the Church, let us ask ourselves, “How can I repay the Lord for all the good done for me?” (Psalm 116:12)
Pray the rosary this week for the souls in purgatory. Pray for vocations and the needs of the Church in our diocese. 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.