A Year with the Saints – 12 October


Whoever serves God with a pure heart, and setting aside all individual and human interests, seeks only His glory, has reason to hope for success in all he does, and especially under circumstances when, according to human judgment, there is no help; for the Divine works are above the sight of human prudence, and depend upon a loftier principle. Saint Charles Borromeo

This holy Cardinal was accustomed to have recourse to God in all his affairs, and commenced, continued and completed all his undertakings with prayer. The more arduous and important anything was, the more prayer he gave to it. And if it happened that something appeared not only difficult but even hopeless, he did not recoil in the least, but urged himself forward with greater spirit and redoubled prayers. It was thus that he succeeded, to the wonder of all, in so many great affairs that seemed to human judgment impossible. The Saint was once talking with a person of rank, whom he was trying to persuade to have confidence in God in all circumstances, because He never abandons even in the smallest things those who put their trust in Him; and by way of proof, he related the following incident, which had happened to him a little while before. He said that his house-steward complained of being without money and did not know how to provide for the urgent needs of the house, and therefore requested him to be more sparing in alms and pious works, as it was by expenditure of that kind that the house was reduced to such extremity. But he replied only that he ought to trust in God, and hope for help from His Divine Majesty. This advice failed to satisfy him, and he went away much discontented. Within two hours there arrived a bundle of letters, among which was a bill of exchange for three thousand crowns remitted to the Saint, from Spain. Sending for the steward, he gave them to him, and said: “Take them, O you of little faith! Behold! the Lord has not abandoned us.” He added that this was truly a work of Divine Providence, for he was not expecting such a remittance, nor should it have been sent until two months later.

We read also in the process of his canonization that at the time of the great conflicts with the king’s ministers on the question of jurisdiction and on account of the excommunications fulminated against them, the Governor of Milan, with some of the secret council opposed to the Cardinal, often thought of taking rigorous measures against his person, as they knew no other way to hinder him from defending the rights of his Church. But every time that they assembled in the king’s council to settle upon something, the thoughts changed in their minds, and the words upon their lips, so that they could come to no resolution against him. They themselves were bewildered and greatly amazed at this, not knowing to what they should ascribe their change of purpose. But doubtless it was the result of his great confidence in God, in reward of which God blessed all his enterprises, removed all obstacles and brought them to a happy ending. It ought, however, to be noticed, as the writer of the Life well observes, that this confidence of the Saint was altogether regulated by Christian prudence. He was most watchful in keeping himself from the vicious extreme of presumption. He never exposed himself to unnecessary dangers, or entertained extravagant plans of little advantage to the service of God and not weighed deliberately and wisely. He employed due diligence and precaution, and on certain occasions he did not refuse human aid, not taking it, however, as his chief reliance, but in subordination to Divine Providence. All this is clearly to be seen in the prudent regulations that he made when the city of Milan was desolated by the plague, and on a thousand other well-known occasions.

MLA Citation