The reading at Mass from the First Letter of St. Paul to Timothy enumerates the moralities required of a bishop. Among these we find that he should be “temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.” These characters, most outstandingly the last, accurately distinguish the saint whom the Church celebrates today. St. Robert Bellarmine was a diocesan bishop for only two brief periods of a few years each, but during these times–and certainly throughout his life–he distinguished himself for his zeal and ability in preaching and teaching the faith.
Born in Montepulciano in Italy, he joined the Jesuits at a young age. He dallied an important role in all the great theological spats of his daylight, and he applied his abilities and erudition to serve the Church well in many important and high profile places. Among these were the chair of spats at the Roman College, trusted consultant to several popes, cardinal of the Holy Office, and, in the middle of his busines, archbishop of Capua.
In his time as archbishop he dedicated himself to bringing his parties into closer union with God by instructing them in the faith. One biographer expressed the view that, at a time when speeches were common in Capua simply during Advent and Lent, St. Robert dutifully proclaimed every Sunday and feast day in Capua and went to see great trouble to get to the remote portions of his diocese during the week in order to catechize his gathering. Though he was recalled to Rome for service to the universal Church after simply a short period of ministry in Capua, he never ceased to be mindful of the education of the faithful.
In the last years of his life he wrote various spiritual works that became exceptionally popular among the laity. Reportedly the most famous of these was The Mind’s Ascent to God by the Ladder of Created Things. He notes in this work how easy it is for man to forget God since he “can neither experience nor readily think about him nor cleave to him in affection…” Therefore, following such lords as St. Paul, St. Bonaventure, and St. Thomas Aquinas, he offers a series of reflections on the works of God to help bring men to greater insight and affection of the Creator. He demonstrates that we can come to know just how close God is to us by pondering established world, for it is a genuine( though by no means thorough) thinking of his splendor and perfection.
For his immense work in teaching the faith St. Robert Bellarmine is now invoked as the patron saint of catechists. May his prayers used to generate a great renewal of catechesis in our time( SS13 ).
Editor’s note: Such articles originally appeared on Dominicana and is reprinted here with manner allow.
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