Friday, November 04, 2016

Daily word, 04 Nov 16

St. Charles Borromeo (04 Nov 2016) Phil 3. 17-4. 1; Ps 122; Lk 16. 1-8
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during 40-day Institute, Guelph, Ontario
“If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness. We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions but the divine honor.”1 Those words of St. Charles Borromeo grace books and blogs. We likely note they echo the urging we have been receiving from Ignatius of Loyola.

In another time and place that echo had caused an Ignatian pray-er to feel let down. Learning to prepare prayer so it “may be directed purely to the service and praise of God” was a revelation for one. Learning the preparation was not the sole property of St. Ignatius disappointed. To anyone here feeling that way: Take heart; St. Charles had a Jesuit confessor.

The point is neither copyright nor receiving privileged communication. The point is this: to live faith—to keep oneself in the presence of our triune God and act in ways that magnify and honor God—to live faith is deeply personal but is never private. Jesus recommended that more than once: leave your gift there before the altar and first go and be reconciled to [another] and then come and offer your gift; and Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the desire of my Father in heaven.2 Not only did Jesus urge that faith is never private; Jesus taught a Christian’s final judgment hinges on the social not the devotional: what you do to the least ones you do to me.3

St. Paul taught likewise: Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters…let Jesus’ power conform [us] with his glorified Body to be his presence in the world.

St. Charles, with St. Ignatius and others, urge us,“keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible”; how to do that they let us determine. Charles determined this. He was born into privilege, wealth and power. Temptations surrounded him. To keep present to God, Charles presented his wealth to those in need; worked on their behalf; and engaged himself in music and art in free moments. Charles’ knowledge of himself freed him to choose ways to be in God’s presence in that Christian social way.

He knew as did Jesus that the use of material possessions symbolizes one’s response to God. To use possessions in ways that keep oneself in God’s friendship call for knowledge of self and surroundings. That is the lesson of Jesus’ parable. The squandering steward’s culture offered him hope as he was being removed from his position. His culture rested on balanced giving and receiving. Reducing amounts owed meant debtors would tip their hands in his favor in future. For that his master commended that dishonest steward—for his far-sightedness not his dishonesty. Jesus recommends we be far-sighted with possessions—not for gain nor dishonest wealth but to draw closer to him. 

Keeping ourselves in the presence of God is far-sighted: shaping our dispositions is not automatic; it takes preparation. Nor is honoring God ever private; our eager response to God includes our generous concern for others and our world. Solitude with God and sincere prayer ground and guide how we discern to choose and to act to magnify God’s name.

  1. At For his “approach to the spiritual life.”
  2. Matthew 5.24; Matthew 7.21.
  3. Matthew 25.31-46.
Wiki-images: Charles Borromeo stained glass PD-US; by Andrey Mironov of Unjust steward CC BY-SA 4.0

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