“Unless you renounce all that you have, you cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

St. Charles Borromeo

Charles Borromeo was born in 1538 and happened to live during the time of the Protestant Reformation. Borromeo was known in his life as a reformer in the Catholic Church.  Belonging to Milanese nobility, and related to the powerful Medici family, Borromeo developed an interest in serving the church, which was made possible by his Medici uncle and Cardinal who became Pope Pius IV. Before long, Pius IV elevated his younger nephew Charles to cardinal-deacon and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan, years before Charles would pursue the priesthood.

Charles Borromeo was born in 1538 and happened to live during the time of the Protestant Reformation. Borromeo was known in his life as a reformer in the Catholic Church.  Belonging to Milanese nobility, and related to the powerful Medici family, Borromeo developed an interest in serving the church, which was made possible by his Medici uncle and Cardinal who became Pope Pius IV. Before long, Pius IV elevated his younger nephew Charles to cardinal-deacon and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan, years before Charles would pursue the priesthood.

Later as Archbishop of Milan, Borromeo encouraged reform at a time when moral laxity and easy living had brought corruption into the church.  He realized that his example was important in using his elevated position in the church to inspire greater charity and selflessness among the faithful.  Toward that end, Borromeo denied himself, disposing of most of his family wealth for the benefit of the poor.  During a plague in 1576, he used his funds to feed tens of thousands of people daily.  While authorities fled from the contagion, Borromeo stayed behind to minister to the sick and dying. 

The heavy burdens assumed by Borromeo affected his health. Sensing that time was short, Borromeo made the passion of Christ as his focus. Spending more time on his knees, he experienced the holy presence of Jesus, forgoing anything which would distract him for preparing for life in the kingdom of God.  Borromeo died in 1584 at age 46.  He was canonized a saint by Pope Paul V in 1610. 

St. Charles Borromeo showed piety as a growing disposition toward God, as demonstrated by a gradual detachment from his worldly possessions and cares.  This reminds me that in my Carmelite vocation, we strive through prayer and quiet contemplation to discover God, especially through His whispers. Over time, detachment can occur, where the allure of the world diminishes. This growing disposition to God, or piety, can awaken a zeal, even a burning zeal, where you can’t help but to bear witness to the love of God to others in words and actions. 

Have a Blessed Day!

Joe

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