Wednesday, October 3, 2012

St. Gerard of Brogne

The Society of Jesus, which oversees the Apostleship of Prayer, honors the memory of one of its members today—Francis Borgia who was a husband, father of eight, and nobleman who served in the court of his cousin Emperor Charles V. When Empress Isabella died unexpectedly he escorted her body for burial. At one point the coffin was opened and Francis, standing nearby, saw the face of the young and beautiful queen disfigured almost beyond recognition by death. He was so shaken that he declared, “Never again will I serve a master who can die on me!” In time, after the death of his wife and arranging marriages for all his children, he resigned his noble title and entered the Jesuits. Let us reflect on the following letter to him from St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, which was written while Francis was still married. May it inspire all Christians to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

As I understand from your letters, our Lord, who is my judge, makes you in His infinite mercy a scholar in so holy a school [that of learning humility and charity-. This is a fact which you cannot deny if you look into your own soul. It is my earnest wish in our Lord that you do your very best to recruit as many fellow scholars as possible, beginning with the members of your own household (to whom we are most obligated), and bring them by the surest and most direct way to His Divine Majesty. Now, since this way is none other than Christ our Lord, as He Himself says [John 14:6], I give many thanks to His Divine Goodness because your lordship approaches the altar frequently to receive Him…. Besides the many rich graces which the soul gains in the reception of her Creator and Lord, there is one that is particularly outstanding, since it is one that will not permit a man to remain long and obstinately in sin. …As you advance in this way with the help of God’s grace, and make use of the gifts which the Divine Majesty has mercifully bestowed upon you in order to win your brethren and your neighbors, you make me your debtor, without merit on my part, because of the desire I feel to imitate your lordship.

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