Monday, January 17, 2011

This saint was a simple lay brother who was often sought out for spiritual advice

          St. Charles of Sezze -- January 18

St. Charles was born in Sezze, Italy in 1613 to a pious but poor family. Poor health interfered with his desires to do missionary work in India.

Therefore, he became a Franciscan lay brother who performed assorted menial tasks, such as cook, porter and gardener.  He gave himself completely to this vocation practicing perfect obedience to his superiors and cultivating all the virtues. 

Once a superior, ordered him to give food only to traveling friars. This he did with strict compliance.  But then the alms to the friary decreased, which led St. Charles to point out that the two happenings were related.  When the order was lifted, alms increased to accommodate all those in need, not only the traveling friars.

Although Charles had very little formal education, he wrote several mystical works under obedience to his superior.  He had an extraordinary devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to the Passion of Our Lord which gave him insights far above his general education. 

This simple lay brother was often sought out for spiritual advice and was called to the deathbed of Pope Clement IX for a blessing.  St. Charles died with the stigmata in January, 1670.

The life of St. Charles is truly a lesson in humility and in obedience, two virtues which are inextricably linked.  His practice of virtue and love of God enabled him to write profound treatises on spiritual subjects even though he was thought not to be able to read or write.

Let us ask St. Charles to be content with the gifts that God has given us and to use them to the fullest potential by practicing love of God with a disinterested heart.  

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