Saturday, May 13, 2017

Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ, Cardinal & Doctor

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St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ (+1621)

This blog, Ars bene moriendi, is named for the great work of the Jesuit, Cardinal, and Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine.  This 17th century Saint of the Church was a great champion of the "counter Reformation" and, traditionally, his feast day was observed on 13 May.  In the revised calendar of 1970, the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine was transferred to 17 September, which is the anniversary of his death in 1621AD.

St. Robert was a great scholar and a great saint.  The Old Catholic Encyclopedia notes of his life: "A distinguished Jesuit theologian, writer, and cardinal, born at Montepulciano, 4 October, 1542; died 17 September, 1621. His father was Vincenzo Bellarmino, his mother Cinthia Cervini, sister of Cardinal Marcello Cervini, afterwards Pope Marcellus II. He was brought up at the newly founded Jesuit college in his native town, and entered the Society of Jesus on 20 September, 1560, being admitted to his first vows on the following day. The next three years he spent in studying philosophy at the Roman College, after which he taught the humanities first at Florence, then at Mondovì. In 1567 he began his theology at Padua, but in 1569 was sent to finish it at Louvain, where he could obtain a fuller acquaintance with the prevailing heresies. Having been ordained there, he quickly obtained a reputation both as a professor and a preacher, in the latter capacity drawing to his pulpit both Catholics and Protestants, even from distant parts. In 1576 he was recalled to Italy, and entrusted with the chair of Controversies recently founded at the Roman College. He proved himself equal to the arduous task, and the lectures thus delivered grew into the work "De Controversiis" which, amidst so much else of excellence, forms the chief title to his greatness. This monumental work was the earliest attempt to systematize the various controversies of the time, and made an immense impression throughout Europe, the blow it dealt to Protestantism being so acutely felt in Germany and England that special chairs were founded in order to provide replies to it. Nor has it even yet been superseded as the classical book on its subject-matter, though, as was to be expected, the progress of criticism has impaired the value of some of its historical arguments.

In 1588 Bellarmine was made Spiritual Father to the Roman College, but in 1590 he went with Cardinal Gaetano as theologian to the embassy Sixtus V was then sending into France to protect the interests of the Church amidst the troubles of the civil wars....Gaetano's mission now terminating, Bellarmine resumed his work as Spiritual Father, and had the consolation of guiding the last years of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who died in the Roman College in 1591. Many years later he had the further consolation of successfully promoting the beatification of the saintly youth. Likewise at this time he sat on the final commission for the revision of the Vulgate text. This revision had been desired by the Council of Trent, and subsequent popes had laboured over the task and had almost brought it to completion....In 1592 Bellarmine was made Rector of the Roman College, and in 1595 Provincial of Naples. In 1597 Clement VIII recalled him to Rome and made him his own theologian and likewise Examiner of Bishops and Consultor of the Holy Office. Further, in 1599 he made him Cardinal-Priest of the title of Santa Maria in viâ, alleging as his reason for this promotion that 'the Church of God had not his equal in learning'."

The Old Catholic Encyclopedia concludes by describing him thus: "His spirit of prayer, his singular delicacy of conscience and freedom from sin, his spirit of humility and poverty, together with the disinterestedness which he displayed as much under the cardinal's robes as under the Jesuit's gown, his lavish charity to the poor, and his devotedness to work, had combined to impress those who knew him intimately with the feeling that he was of the number of the saints."


He lived, then, in the era of the Reforms of Trent, the French Wars of Religion, the reign of James I of England, and the Galileo Case, each of which was a matter that St. Robert, as a prince of the Church, had occasion to deal with.  He would die in 1621, and is buried in the Jesuit Church of Sant'Ignazio in Rome.


The Apse of the Roman Church of Sant'Ignazio, where St. Robert is buried.
["Lazio Roma SIgnazio tango7174" by Tango7174 - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons]

Here is the website of the Church where he is buried in Rome: Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio

St. Robert was canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI and named a Doctor of the Church.  His feast until the reforms of Paul VI fell on 13 May -- it was moved to 17 September to correspond to the day of his death in that reform.

For a more detailed life of St. Robert, you might note these links:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Robert Bellarmine

Catholic Saints Info: St. Robert Bellarmine

For the text of his great work, Ars bene moriendi, on living and dying well, you should visit here:
St. Robert Bellarmine, Ars bene moriendi

In closing, it is interesting to note that, prior to his election, Pope Francis held the title of Cardinal-Priest of San Roberto Bellarmino.

Live well!

Monday, May 1, 2017

St. Joseph the Worker and Catholic Social Teaching

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St. Joseph the Carpenter, by Georges de la Tour (1640sAD)

Today, 1 May, is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker -- foster father of Our Lord, husband of Our Lady, carpenter from Nazareth, and patron of the universal Church.

This feast was instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1956, and recalls, in particular, St. Joseph as the humble and competent workman and carpenter.  This being "May Day," there is no better answer to the virulent falsehoods of Marxism and communism than the example of St. Joseph.

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St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus, by Guido Reni, ca. 1635.

For more on this magnificent saint, the foster father of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, you might note:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Joseph

Catholic Saints Info: St. Joseph


The Popes, the Successors of St. Peter, have had much to say about St. Joseph, communism, socialism, capitalism, and human labor.  I would recommend especially these gems:



Pope Leo XIII, Successor of St. Peter, 1878-1903

"4...As to workmen, artisans, and persons of lesser degree, their recourse to Joseph is a special right, and his example is for their particular imitation. For Joseph, of royal blood, united by marriage to the greatest and holiest of women, reputed the father of the Son of God, passed his life in labor, and won by the toil of the artisan the needful support of his family. It is, then, true that the condition of the lowly has nothing shameful in it, and the work of the laborer is not only not dishonoring, but can, if virtue be joined to it, be singularly ennobled. Joseph, content with his slight possessions, bore the trials consequent on a fortune so slender, with greatness of soul, in imitation of his Son, who having put on the form of a slave, being the Lord of life, subjected himself of his own free-will to the spoliation and loss of everything.
5. Through these considerations, the poor and those who live by the labor of their hands should be of good heart and learn to be just. If they win the right of emerging from poverty and obtaining a better rank by lawful means, reason and justice uphold them in changing the order established, in the first instance, for them by the Providence of God. But recourse to force and struggles by seditious paths to obtain such ends are madnesses which only aggravate the evil which they aim to suppress. Let the poor, then, if they would be wise, trust not to the promises of seditious men, but rather to the example and patronage of the Blessed Joseph, and to the maternal charity of the Church, which each day takes an increasing compassion on their lot."
Quamquam pluries (1889AD) of Pope Leo XIII, on Devotion to St. Joseph.
Full Text of QUAMQUAM PLURIES


"4. To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man's envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community.
...
41. From this follows the obligation of the cessation from work and labor on Sundays and certain holy days. The rest from labor is not to be understood as mere giving way to idleness; much less must it be an occasion for spending money and for vicious indulgence, as many would have it to be; but it should be rest from labor, hallowed by religion. Rest (combined with religious observances) disposes man to forget for a while the business of his everyday life, to turn his thoughts to things heavenly, and to the worship which he so strictly owes to the eternal Godhead. It is this, above all, which is the reason and motive of Sunday rest; a rest sanctioned by God's great law of the Ancient Covenant -- 'Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day,' and taught to the world by His own mysterious 'rest' after the creation of man: 'He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.'"
Rerum Novarum (1891AD) of Pope Leo XIII, on Capital and Labor.
Full Text of RERUM NOVARUM


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Pope Pius XI, Successor of St. Peter, 1922-1939

"71. In the first place, the worker must be paid a wage sufficient to support him and his family. That the rest of the family should also contribute to the common support, according to the capacity of each, is certainly right, as can be observed especially in the families of farmers, but also in the families of many craftsmen and small shopkeepers. But to abuse the years of childhood and the limited strength of women is grossly wrong. Mothers, concentrating on household duties, should work primarily in the home or in its immediate vicinity. It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers on account of the father's low wage to be forced to engage in gainful occupations outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties, especially the training of children. Every effort must therefore be made that fathers of families receive a wage large enough to meet ordinary family needs adequately. But if this cannot always be done under existing circumstances, social justice demands that changes be introduced as soon as possible whereby such a wage will be assured to every adult workingman. It will not be out of place here to render merited praise to all, who with a wise and useful purpose, have tried and tested various ways of adjusting the pay for work to family burdens in such a way that, as these increase, the former may be raised and indeed, if the contingency arises, there may be enough to meet extraordinary needs.

72. In determining the amount of the wage, the condition of a business and of the one carrying it on must also be taken into account; for it would be unjust to demand excessive wages which a business cannot stand without its ruin and consequent calamity to the workers. If, however, a business makes too little money, because of lack of energy or lack of initiative or because of indifference to technical and economic progress, that must not be regarded a just reason for reducing the compensation of the workers. But if the business in question is not making enough money to pay the workers an equitable wage because it is being crushed by unjust burdens or forced to sell its product at less than a just price, those who are thus the cause of the injury are guilty of grave wrong, for they deprive workers of their just wage and force them under the pinch of necessity to accept a wage less than fair.


...120. If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist."
Quadragesimo Anno (1931AD) of Pope Pius XI, On the Reconstruction of the Social Order
Full Text of QUADRAGESIMO ANNO


"10. Communism, moreover, strips man of his liberty, robs human personality of all its dignity, and removes all the moral restraints that check the eruptions of blind impulse. There is no recognition of any right of the individual in his relations to the collectivity; no natural right is accorded to human personality, which is a mere cog-wheel in the Communist system. In man's relations with other individuals, besides, Communists hold the principle of absolute equality, rejecting all hierarchy and divinely-constituted authority, including the authority of parents. What men call authority and subordination is derived from the community as its first and only font. Nor is the individual granted any property rights over material goods or the means of production, for inasmuch as these are the source of further wealth, their possession would give one man power over another. Precisely on this score, all forms of private property must be eradicated, for they are at the origin of all economic enslavement .

11. Refusing to human life any sacred or spiritual character, such a doctrine logically makes of marriage and the family a purely artificial and civil institution, the outcome of a specific economic system. There exists no matrimonial bond of a juridico-moral nature that is not subject to the whim of the individual or of the collectivity. Naturally, therefore, the notion of an indissoluble marriage-tie is scouted. Communism is particularly characterized by the rejection of any link that binds woman to the family and the home, and her emancipation is proclaimed as a basic principle. She is withdrawn from the family and the care of her children, to be thrust instead into public life and collective production under the same conditions as man. The care of home and children then devolves upon the collectivity. Finally, the right of education is denied to parents, for it is conceived as the exclusive prerogative of the community, in whose name and by whose mandate alone parents may exercise this right."
Divini Redemptoris (1937AD) of Pope Pius XI, on Atheistic Communism.
Full Text of DIVINI REDEMPTORIS



Pope St. John Paul II, Successor of St. Peter, 1978-2005

"Just remuneration for the work of an adult who is responsible for a family means remuneration which will suffice for establishing and properly maintaining a family and for providing security for its future. Such remuneration can be given either through what is called a family wage-that is, a single salary given to the head of the family fot his work, sufficient for the needs of the family without the other spouse having to take up gainful employment outside the home-or through other social measures such as family allowances or grants to mothers devoting themselves exclusively to their families. These grants should correspond to the actual needs, that is, to the number of dependents for as long as they are not in a position to assume proper responsibility for their own lives."
Laborem exercens (1981AD) of Pope John Paul II, On Human Labor.
Full Text of LABOREM EXERCENS

May Saint Joseph intercede for us, for workers, for families, and for for the conversion of socialists!

Live well!