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St. Robert Bellarmine

On Sept. 17, the Catholic Church celebrates the Italian cardinal and theologian St. Robert Bellarmine. One of the great saints of the Jesuit order, St. Robert has also been declared a Doctor of the Church and the patron of catechists. Robert Bellarmine was born on October 4, 1542 in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano. His uncle was a cardinal who later became Pope Marcellus II. As a young man, Robert received his education from the Jesuit order, which had received written papal approval only two years before his birth.In September of 1560, Robert entered the Jesuit order himself. He studied philosophy for three years in Rome, then taught humanities until 1567, when he began a study of theology that lasted until 1569. The final stage of his training emphasized the refutation of Protestant errors.Robert received ordination to the priesthood in Belgium, where his sermons drew crowds of both Catholics and Protestants. In 1576, he returned to Italy and took up an academic position addressing theological controversies. The resulting work, his “Disputations,� became a classic of Catholic apologetics. Near the end of the 1580s, the esteemed theologian became “Spiritual Father� to the Roman College. He served as a guide to St. Aloysius Gonzaga near the end of the young Jesuit's life, and helped produce the authoritative Latin text of the Bible called for by the recent Council of Trent. Around the century's end Robert became an advisor to Pope Clement VIII. The Pope named him a cardinal in 1599, declaring him to be the most educated man in the Church. Robert played a part in a debate between Dominicans and Jesuits regarding grace, though the Pope later decided to appoint and consecrate him as the Archbishop of Capua. The cardinal archbishop's three years in Capua stood out as an example of fidelity to the reforming spirit and decrees of the Council of Trent. He was considered as a possible Pope in two successive elections, but the thought of becoming Pope disturbed him and in the end he was never chosen.In the early years of the 17th century, the cardinal took a public stand for the Church's freedom when it came under attack in Venice and England. He also attempted, though not successfully, to negotiate peace between the Vatican and his personal friend Galileo Galilei, over the scientist's insistence that not only the earth, but the entire universe, revolved around the sun.Cardinal Bellarmine retired due to health problems in the summer of 1621. Two years before, he had set out his thoughts on the end of earthly life in a book titled “The Art of Dying Well.� In that work, the cardinal explained that preparing for death was life's most important business, since the state of one's soul at death would determine the person's eternal destiny.St. Robert Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1931, and declared him to be a Doctor of the Church.

Finding The Lost Pieces Of Our Lives – A Sermon On Luke 15:1-10

Proper 19C – Luke 15:1-10 I remember hearing someone say, “I feel like there are parts of myself that have been lost along the way, and I don’t know if I can go back and find them again.” It was nearly twenty years ago when I heard that and it’s never left me. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I thought about parts …

Hospitality: Unlocking The Door Of The Heart – A Sermon On Luke 14:1, 7-14

I don’t know if we were entertaining an angel that day, but I do know that she was a stranger. She was not a stranger in the sense that she was unknown and unfamiliar to me. I had dealt with her before. She was, however, a stranger in the sense that she was different from me and the others in the class. Her look, smell, and way of life were strange to us. I said to her Holall the right things, at least out loud I did. But the ideas, thoughts, and conversation inside me were a bit different.

Blessing Of The Backpacks: A Prayer For The Start Of School

Liturgies and prayer often mark moments of transition. Baptism, marriage, confirmation, and reconciliation are examples of that. What about beginning the new school year? It also is a time of transition. The new year represents growth and change; moving to a new classroom, school, or town; more responsibility and maturity. Below is one possibility for a blessing of the backpacks and a prayer for the …

A Non-Possessive Life – A Sermon On Luke 12:32-40

Many years ago a close, dear friend gave Cyndy and me a gift. “Open it now,” she said. We unwrapped it and took it out of the box. It was a piece of pottery, about six inches in diameter, beige colored, in the shape of a dome. There was a hole in the top and it was hollow inside. “Oh, it’s beautiful. Thank you so much,” we said. “It’s perfect. We love it.” Have you ever received a gift and had no idea what it was or what you were supposed to do with it? I wonder if that’s what happens to us when we hear Jesus say, “It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

A Prayer For Gilroy, El Paso, And Dayton

O Lord of life, the God of our salvation, who bears our burdens: Our hearts have once again been broken by violence and gunfire; this time in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. Our eyes waste away with grief. Our spirit shakes with terror. How long, O Lord, how long?

When Life Ebbs Away – A Sermon On Luke 12:13-21

Proper 13C – Luke 12:13-21 “This very night your life is being demanded of you.” What is demanding and taking your life today?  That’s the question I want to begin with. It’s the question that runs through what I am about to say to you. And I hope it’s the question you will take with you when you leave here today. It is a central …

Let Us Dare To Pray (And Not Just For What We Want) – A Sermon On Luke 11:1-13

Proper 12 C – Luke 11:1-13 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” It would sure be a lot easier to hear and preach today’s gospel (Luke 11:1-13) if it weren’t for all the unanswered prayers in our lives. I’m not suggesting that our prayers never get answered the way we …

But First…. – A Sermon On Luke 9:51-62

Today’s gospel (Luke 9:51-62) is a difficult one. It’s confrontational and it doesn’t leave much, if any, wiggle room. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” We’re either looking toward the kingdom or we are not. We’re either responding to the call of life or we’re not. We’re either open to the coming future or we’re not.

Being Free Of God – A Trinity Sunday Sermon on John 16:12-15

Jesus said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Maybe there is something unbearable about God. When have you experienced the unbearable in your life? What happened? How did it come about? In what ways are you experiencing the unbearable today?