The reading at Mass from the First Letter of St. Paul to Timothy enumerates the righteousness requirements for a bishop. Among these we find that he should be “temperate, self-controlled, reasonable, genial, 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 undoubtedly throughout his life–he is distinguished for his gusto and ability in preaching and learn 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 quarrels of his era, and he applied his abilities and erudition to serve the Church well in countless important and high profile locations. Among these were the chair of quarrels at the Roman College, relied consultant to various popes, cardinal of the Holy Office, and, in the middle of his profession, archbishop of Capua.
In his time as archbishop he dedicated himself to imparting his parties into closer union with God by instructing them in the faith. One biographer expressed the view that, at a time when lectures were common in Capua merely during Advent and Lent, St. Robert dutifully preached every Sunday and feast day in Capua and went to great hardship 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 merely 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 records 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 discover nor easily think about him nor cleave to him in affection…” Therefore, following such rulers as St. Paul, St. Bonaventure, and St. Thomas Aquinas, he offers a series of meditations on the works of God to help bring men to greater insight and adore of the Creator. He demonstrates that we can come to know just how close God is to us by meditating generated actuality, for it is a genuine( though by no means comprehensive) thought 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 times( SS13 ).
Editor’s note: Such articles primarily appeared on Dominicana and is reprinted here with manner permission.
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