Thursday, November 3, 2011

Growing in virtue in ministry (from a sermon by Saint Charles Borromeo) On his Feastday, the 4th of November

Would you like me to teach you how to grow from virtue to virtue and how, if you are already recollected in prayer, you can be even more attentive next time, and so give God more pleasing worship?

Listen, and I will tell you. 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. Keep the stove tightly shut so that it will not lose its heat and grow cold. In other words, avoid distractions as well as you can. Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless clutter.

If teaching and preaching is your job, then study diligently and apply yourself to whatever is necessary for doing the job well. 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.

Are you in charge of a parish? If so, do not neglect the parish of your own soul, do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself. You have to be mindful of your people without becoming forgetful of yourself.

My brothers, you must realize that for us churchmen nothing is more necessary than prayer. We must pray before, during, and after everything we do. The prophet says: I will pray, and then I will understand.

When you administer the sacraments, pray what you are doing. When you celebrate Mass, reflect on the sacrifice you are offering. When you pray the office, think about the words you are saying and the Lord to whom you are speaking. When you take care of your people, meditate on the Lord’s blood that has washed them clean. In this way, all that you do becomes a work of love.

This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work: in prayer we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others.



"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)