Friday, November 4, 2011

Saint Charles Borromeo

A look at the life of the saint honored in our Church today brings attention to the many men who are appointed or elected (popes) to leadership roles.  At a time when economies throughout the world are in perilous conditions, all who have leadership roles, again especially in the Church or churches, fall under the microscope of scrutiny (testing) and transparency.  This happens particularly when so many people are without employment or are working in below skill-level jobs.  A wide chasm between the folks without and those with demands a careful look at one's life for those in leadership roles, again especially those in our Church or other churches.

Charles Borromeo came from a family of wealth and station both in the civil and Church life.  A read of Charles' life reveals how much the Church was involved being a political entity at the time.  A read of his life clearly shows how challenging the entanglement of Church and State can be for a cleric.  Today, thankfully, the intensity of the relationship of Charles' times --the late 15th and early 16th centuries-- is far from the royal life that trapped some great Church leaders.  Those were different days to be sure!

Eventually Charles, growing in wisdom and grace, began to see his role as the Archbishop of Milan as more than a political contest between powers.  He turned much of his time and attention to personal acts of sacrifice and mortification.  The poor, the reformation of the clergy (beginning with himself) the beginning of CCD became the concerns of his later years of life and service.  Again, the link behind the word "life" in the above paragraph attests to the man's metanoia.

In particular this feast day should be a time when Catholics pray for all the men, from Pope to seminarians, who hold any office or role of leadership.  As a priest, I know that I and my brother priests possess a leadership role.  It is a part of the life.  Therefore, we must always have the strength to live not as princes or kings but rather as men who see our life as a model of service and simplicity.  That is the life that all priests, from Pope Benedict to the newest ordained priest, are called to life.  It is a life of abundance of service and simplicity.

The changed Archbishop of Milan!