We just celebrated All Saints Day last Sunday, and this week we had two very different saints that we celebrated their saints day that show us of the variety of ways we can be called to serve God and one another.
Tuesday, November 3rd, was the feast day of St. Martin de Porres. Born in Lima Peru in 1575 he was the son of a well-respected Spanish man (who would later be appointed governor of Panama) and of a freed black slave. His father supported him and arranged for him to be an apprentice to a barber-surgeon in his teen years, but he would not claim his as his son, so he was considered illegitimate and discriminated against in their society. He joined the Dominicans at the age of 16 and would stay as a lay brother. His medical knowledge would be useful in caring for fellow Dominicans, but he would be most known for his care of the poor and sick in the community. He would also be entrusted with distributing to the poor the convent’s daily alms of food and other goods. He was considered practical, caring, and humble in all of his works and honored by rich and poor alike when he died.
Wednesday, November 4th, was the feast day of St. Charles Borromeo. Born in 1538 to a noble family he would be well educated, receiving his clerical tonsure at the age of twelve and obtaining a doctorate at the age of 21. But he would also receive other honors, and responsibilities at a young age. His uncle became Pope Pius IV in 1559 and named Charles a cardinal along with appointing him to many other positions, including administrator of the archdiocese of Milan. It should be noted that Charles was still only in minor orders and wouldn’t be ordained a priest until 1563. He had a major role in the reconvening of the Council of Trent and was specifically involved in the writing of a Catechism and in liturgical books. Since he was occupied in his duties in the Vatican he wouldn’t be able to fully take up his duties in Milan until after his uncle, Pope Pius IV, would die in 1565. Credited for educating the people of Milan in the faith through Sunday catechism classes, founding seminaries to educate his priests (a practice that would be widely copied), he also lived a very simple life and used the wealth and profits of the diocese to support those in need. He was only forty-six years old when he died, but managed to serve God faithfully, helping to lead the Church in the time of the Counter-Reformation.
The saints demonstrate that no matter our position in life, we can still live them faithfully in a manner that will truly touch the world around us, sharing that faith through our actions and our example. This weekend the St. Vincent de Paul Society is taking the opportunity to share with the parish ways in which they have experienced and been able to live out their faith. Consider what way God may be calling each of us to be saints today.