St. Robert Bellarmine’s parents had vastly different visions of what they wanted their son to be when he grew up. His father wanted him to become a wealthy politician. His mother, a devout woman and a niece of a pope, had other plans. She dreamed her son would become a Jesuit.
Guess who won? St. Robert did indeed become a Jesuit. Even more, he was appointed a cardinal and distinguished himself as one of the most influential theologians of late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, advising popes and engaging kings, Protestant leaders, and scientists in the pressing debates of his day. In honor of his work, he was named a Doctor of the Church.
But I wonder if things might have turned out differently, had St. Robert been born in 2011, instead of 1542? I wonder if his mother would have hoped he’d become a priest at all. Parents today are far less willing than they were in the past to encourage their sons to be priests, or their daughters to be sisters, in part because they fear that they would wind up being unhappy people. Scientific studies have shown, however, that on average, priests and sisters are among the happiest people in America, because, first and foremost, they understand themselves as servants of the Lord. Yet that’s an understanding that all of us can apply to ourselves, whether we’re priests or not, because we’re all called and created, in whatever we do, to be servants of God. As St. Robert himself said: “If you are wise, then know that you have been created for the glory of God and your eternal salvation. This is your good; this is the center of your life; this is the treasure of your heart.”
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091711.cfm
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