The reading at Mass from the First Letter of St. Paul to Timothy lists the perfections required of a bishop. Among these we find that he should be “temperate, self-controlled, respectable, genial, able to teach.” These attributes, most outstandingly the last, accurately mark 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 undoubtedly throughout his life–he distinguished himself for his ardor and ability in preaching and schooling the faith.
Born in Montepulciano in Italy, he connected the Jesuits at a young age. He toy an important role in all the great theological conflicts of his date, and he expended his abilities and erudition to serve the Church well in numerous important and high profile points. Among these were the chair of contentions at the Roman College, trusted consultant to several popes, cardinal of the Holy Office, and, in the middle of his career, archbishop of Capua.
In his time as archbishop he dedicated himself to introducing his people into closer union with God by instructing them in the faith. One biographer expressed the view that, at a time when sermons were common in Capua only during Advent and Lent, St. Robert dutifully proclaimed every Sunday and feast day in Capua and went to enormous fus to get to the remote portions of his diocese during the week in order to catechize his flock. 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 notebooks that became extremely favourite among the laity. Reportedly the most famous of these was The Mind’s Ascent to God by the Ladder of Created Things. He indicates in this work how easy it is for man to forget God since he “can neither investigate nor readily “ve been thinking about” him nor cleave to him in affection…” Therefore, following such surmounts 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 learning and affection of the Creator. He demonstrates that we can come to know just how close God is to us by mulling started world, for it is a true-blue( though by no means thorough) thought of his dignity and perfection.
For his immense work in teaching the faith St. Robert Bellarmine is now invoked as the patron saint of catechists. May his devotions bring about a great renewal of catechesis in our times( SS13 ).
Editor’s note: This article initially appeared on Dominicana and is reprinted now with style assent.
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