Monday, September 17, 2012

Optional Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor

Some consider today’s saint to be the greatest theologian of his time. He was an Italian who joined the Jesuits when he was eighteen and, after his ordination, was sent to teach theology in Belgium and later in Rome where the Pope made him his personal theological advisor. In time he was made a bishop and a cardinal. The following excerpt from his treatise “On the Ascent of the Mind to God” reveals his single-minded focus on the goal of life—heaven. Let us pray that we may have this same focus as we reflect on how we can help the poorest Churches in the world.

Sweet Lord, you are meek and merciful. Who would not give himself wholeheartedly to your service, if he began to taste even a little of your fatherly rule? What command, Lord, do you give your servants? Take my yoke upon you, you say. And what is this yoke of yours like? My yoke, you say, is easy and my burden light. Who would not be glad to bear a yoke that does not press hard but caresses? Who would not be glad for a burden that does not weigh heavy but refreshes? And so you were right to add: And you will find rest for your souls. And what is this yoke of yours that does not weary, but gives rest? It is, of course, that first and greatest commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart. What is easier, sweeter, more pleasant, than to love goodness, beauty and love, the fullness of which you are, O Lord, my God?

Is it not true that you promise those who keep your commandments a reward more desirable than great wealth and sweeter than honey? You promise a most abundant reward, for as your apostle James says: The Lord has prepared a crown of life for those who love him. What is this crown of life? It is surely a greater good than we can conceive of or desire, as St. Paul says, quoting Isaiah: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.

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