Friday, November 4, 2011


Prayer of Saint Charles Borromeo

Almighty God, you have generously made known to human beings the mysteries of your life through Jesus Christ your Son in the Holy Spirit.

Enlighten my mind to know these mysteries which your Church treasures and teaches.

Move my heart to love them and my will to live in accord with them.

Give me the ability to teach this Faith to others without pride, without ostentation, and without personal gain.

Let me realize that I am simply your instrument for bringing others to the knowledge of the wonderful things you have done for all your creatures.

Help me to be faithful to this task that you have entrusted to me.



Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop

Rom 15:14-21

I myself am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters,
that you yourselves are full of goodness,
filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another.
But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you,
because of the grace given me by God
to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles
in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God,
so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable,
sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast in what pertains to God.
For I will not dare to speak of anything
except what Christ has accomplished through me
to lead the Gentiles to obedience by word and deed,
by the power of signs and wonders,
by the power of the Spirit of God,
so that from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum
I have finished preaching the Gospel of Christ.
Thus I aspire to proclaim the Gospel
not where Christ has already been named,
so that I do not build on another's foundation,
but as it is written:

Those who have never been told of him shall see,
and those who have never heard of him shall understand.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Lk 16:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples,

"A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
"What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward."
The steward said to himself, "What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes."
He called in his master's debtors one by one.
To the first he said, "How much do you owe my master?"
He replied, "One hundred measures of olive oil."
He said to him, "Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty."
Then to another he said, "And you, how much do you owe?"
He replied, "One hundred measures of wheat."
He said to him, "Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty."
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than the children of light."


November 4

St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584)

The name of St. Charles Borromeo is associated with reform. He lived during the time of the Protestant Reformation, and had a hand in the reform of the whole Church during the final years of the Council of Trent.

Although he belonged to Milanese nobility and was related to the powerful Medici family, he desired to devote himself to the Church. When his uncle, Cardinal de Medici, was elected pope in 1559 as Pius IV, he made Charles cardinal-deacon and administrator of the Archdiocese of Milan while he was still a layman and a young student. Because of his intellectual qualities he was entrusted with several important offices connected with the Vatican and later appointed secretary of state with responsibility for the papal states. The untimely death of his elder brother brought Charles to a definite decision to be ordained a priest, despite relatives’ insistence that he marry. Soon after he was ordained a priest at the age of 25, he was consecrated bishop of Milan.

Because of his work at the Council of Trent, he was not allowed to take up residence in Milan until the Council was over. Charles had encouraged the pope to renew the Council in 1562 after it had been suspended for 10 years. Working behind the scenes, St. Charles deserves the credit for keeping the Council in session when at several points it was on the verge of breaking up. He took upon himself the task of the entire correspondence during the final phase.

Eventually Charles was allowed to devote his time to the Archdiocese of Milan, where the religious and moral picture was far from bright. The reform needed in every phase of Catholic life among both clergy and laity was initiated at a provincial council of all the bishops under him. Specific regulations were drawn up for bishops and other clergy: If the people were to be converted to a better life, he had to be the first to give a good example and renew their apostolic spirit.

Charles took the initiative in giving good example. He allotted most of his income to charity, forbade himself all luxury and imposed severe penances upon himself. He sacrificed wealth, high honors, esteem and influence to become poor. During the plague and famine of 1576, he tried to feed 60,000 to 70,000 people daily. To do this he borrowed large sums of money that required years to repay. Whereas the civil authorities fled at the height of the plague, he stayed in the city, where he ministered to the sick and the dying, helping those in want.

Work and the heavy burdens of his high office began to affect his health. He died at the age of 46.


O Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Invitatory Psalm

Psalm 94 (95)
Come, let us worship Christ, the prince of shepherds.

Come, let us worship Christ, the prince of shepherds.
Come, let us rejoice in the Lord,
let us acclaim God our salvation.
Let us come before him proclaiming our thanks,
let us acclaim him with songs.
Come, let us worship Christ, the prince of shepherds.
For the Lord is a great God,
a king above all gods.
For he holds the depths of the earth in his hands,
and the peaks of the mountains are his.
For the sea is his: he made it;
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship Christ, the prince of shepherds.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock,
the sheep that follow his hand.
Come, let us worship Christ, the prince of shepherds.
If only, today, you would listen to his voice:
“Do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah,
on the day of Massah in the desert,
when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test,
although they had seen my works.”
Come, let us worship Christ, the prince of shepherds.
“For forty years they wearied me,
that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering,
they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger:
they will never enter my place of rest.”
Come, let us worship Christ, the prince of shepherds.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Come, let us worship Christ, the prince of shepherds.


O Three in One, and One in Three,
Who rulest all things mightily,
Bow down to hear the songs of praise
Which, freed from bonds of sleep, we raise.
While lingers yet the peace of night,
We rouse us from our slumbers light;
That might of instant prayer may win
The healing balm for wounds of sin.
If, by the wiles of Satan caught,
This night-time we have sinned in aught,
That sin thy glorious power today,
From heaven descending, cleanse away.
Let naught impure our bodies stain,
No laggard sloth our souls detain,
No taint of sin our spirits know,
To chill the fervour of their glow.
Wherefore, Redeemer, grant that we
Fulfilled with thine own light may be:
That, in our course, from day to day,
By no misdeed we fall away.
Grant this, O Father ever One
With Christ, thy sole-begotten Son,
And Holy Ghost, whom all adore,
Reigning and blest for evermore.

Psalm 68 (69)
I am consumed with zeal for your house

I am wearied with all my crying as I await my God.

Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I am stuck in bottomless mud;
I am adrift in deep waters
and the flood is sweeping me away.
I am exhausted with crying out, my throat is parched,
my eyes are failing as I look out for my God.
Those who hate me for no reason
are more than the hairs of my head.
They are strong, my persecutors, my lying enemies:
they make me give back things I never took.
God, you know my weakness:
my crimes are not hidden from you.
Let my fate not put to shame those who trust in you,
Lord, Lord of hosts.
Let them not be dismayed on my account,
those who seek you, God of Israel.
For it is for your sake that I am taunted
and covered in confusion:
I have become a stranger to my own brothers,
a wanderer in the eyes of my mother’s children –
because zeal for your house is consuming me,
and the taunts of those who hate you
fall upon my head.
I have humbled my soul with fasting
and they reproach me for it.
I have made sackcloth my clothing
and they make me a byword.
The idlers at the gates speak against me;
for drinkers of wine, I am the butt of their songs.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
I am wearied with all my crying as I await my God.

Psalm 68 (69)

For food they gave me poison, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

But I turn my prayer to you, Lord,
at the acceptable time, my God.
In your great kindness, hear me,
and rescue me with your faithful help.
Tear me from the mire, before I become stuck;
tear me from those who hate me;
tear me from the depths of the waters.
Do not let the waves overwhelm me;
do not let the deep waters swallow me;
do not let the well’s mouth engulf me.
Hear me, Lord, for you are kind and good.
In your abundant mercy, look upon me.
Do not turn your face from your servant:
I am suffering, so hurry to answer me.
Come to my soul and deliver it,
rescue me from my enemies’ attacks.
You know how I am taunted and ashamed;
how I am thrown into confusion.
You can see all those who are troubling me.
Reproach has shattered my heart – I am sick.
I looked for sympathy, but none came;
I looked for a consoler but did not find one.
They gave me bitterness to eat;
when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
For food they gave me poison, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Psalm 68 (69)

Seek the Lord, and he will give life to your soul.

I am weak and I suffer,
but your help, O God, will sustain me.
I will praise the name of God in song
and proclaim his greatness with praises.
This will please the Lord more than oxen,
than cattle with their horns and hooves.
Let the humble see and rejoice.
Seek the Lord, and your heart shall live,
for the Lord has heard the needy
and has not despised his captive people.
Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and all that swims in them.
For the Lord will make Zion safe
and build up the cities of Judah:
there they will live, the land will be theirs.
The seed of his servants will inherit the land,
and those who love his name will dwell there.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Seek the Lord, and he will give life to your soul.

The Lord will teach us his ways
and we shall walk in his paths.


2 Maccabees 12:32-45
After Pentecost, as it is called, they marched against Gorgias, the military commissioner for Idumaea. He came out at the head of three thousand infantry and four hundred cavalry; in the course of the ensuing battle a few Jews lost their lives.

A man called Dositheus, one of the Tubians, who was on horseback and a powerful man, grasped Gorgias, taking him by the cloak, and was forcibly dragging him along, intending to take the accursed man alive, but one of the Thracian cavalry, hurling himself on Dositheus, slashed his shoulder, and Gorgias escaped to Marisa. Meanwhile since Esdrias and his men had been fighting for a long time and were exhausted, Judas called on the Lord to show them he was their ally and leader in battle.

Then, chanting the battle cry and other hymns at the top of his voice in the language of his ancestors, he routed Gorgias’ troops.

Judas then rallied his army and moved on to the town of Adullam, and since the seventh day of the week had arrived they purified themselves according to custom and kept the sabbath in that place. The next day they came to Judas (since the necessity was by now urgent) to have the bodies of the fallen taken up and laid to rest among their relatives in their ancestral tombs. But when they found on each of the dead men, under their tunics, amulets of the idols taken from Jamnia, which the Law prohibits to Jews, it became clear to everyone that this was why these men had lost their lives. All then blessed the ways of the Lord, the just judge who brings hidden things to light, and gave themselves to prayer, begging that the sin committed might be fully blotted out. Next, the valiant Judas urged the people to keep themselves free from all sin, having seen with their own eyes the effects of the sin of those who had fallen; after this he took a collection from them individually, amounting to nearly two thousand drachmae, and sent it to Jerusalem to have a sacrifice for sin offered, an altogether fine and noble action, in which he took full account of the resurrection. For if he had not expected the fallen to rise again it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead, whereas if he had in view the splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end, the thought was holy and devout. This was why he had this atonement sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sin.

There are those who have fallen asleep in godliness: they will then have a splendid reward laid up for them.
It is a holy and pious thought to make atonement for the dead, that they may be delivered from their sins: they will then have a splendid reward laid up for them.


A sermon by St Charles Borromeo
Practise what you preach

I admit that we are all weak, but if we want help, the Lord God has given us the means to find it easily. One priest may wish to lead a good, holy life, as he knows he should. He may wish to be chaste and to reflect heavenly virtues in the way he lives. Yet he does not resolve to use suitable means, such as penance, prayer, the avoidance of evil discussions and harmful and dangerous friendships. Another priest complains that as soon as he comes into church to pray the office or to celebrate Mass, a thousand thoughts fill his mind and distract him from God. But what was he doing in the sacristy before he came out for the office or for Mass? How did he prepare? What means did he use to collect his thoughts and to remain recollected?

Would you like me to teach you how to grow from virtue to virtue and how, if you are already recollected at 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 chatter.

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 realise that for us churchmen nothing is more necessary than meditation. We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: I will pray, and then I will understand. When you administer the sacraments, meditate on 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 how the Lord’s blood that has washed them clean so that 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 meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in other men.

You must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. This is what you are to enforce in your teaching: be an example to all the believers.
If you put all this before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus. This is what you are to enforce in your teaching: be an example to all the believers.

Let us pray.

Lord, keep alive in your people the spirit you gave to your bishop Saint Charles Borromeo.
Shape and renew your Church until it bears the image of Christ, and shows his true likeness to the world.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.


Let us bless the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.