August 5, 2011

From the Editor Emeritus / John F. Fink

The wisdom of the saints: St. Cajetan

John F. FinkSt. Cajetan, whose feast is celebrated on Aug. 7 when that date doesn’t fall on a Sunday, lived from 1480 to 1557, a time when the Church was badly in need of reform. (Martin Luther started what became the Protestant Reformation in 1517.)

Cajetan was a lawyer who worked for the Roman Curia under Pope Julius II. When that pope died, he joined the Oratory of St. Jerome, dedicated to caring for the sick, and was ordained a priest.

In 1520 he, and three others—one of which was the future Pope Paul IV—founded the Theatines, which tried to reform the Church from within. He also continued to work for the poor in both Venice and Naples.

He was always a humble man. In one of his letters he wrote, “I am a sinner and do not think much of myself.” However, he wrote, “I have recourse to the greatest servants of the Lord, that they may pray for you to the blessed Christ and his Mother.”

He went on to say that we must remember that all the saints cannot endear us to Christ as much as we ourselves can. “It is entirely up to you,” he said. “If you want Christ to love you and help you, you must love him and always make an effort to please him. Do not waver in your purpose, because even if all the saints and every single creature should abandon you, he will always be near you, whatever your needs.”

We are pilgrims in this world, he said, on a journey to our true home in heaven. We must strive to gain eternal life, he said, but we cannot achieve that by ourselves since we have lost it through sin.

However, Jesus Christ has recovered it for us, he said. “For this reason we must always be grateful to him and love him. We must always obey him, and as far as possible remain united with him.”

Christ has offered himself to be our food, he said, and “woe to the man or woman who does not care enough to receive him.”

In the letter, which was written to a woman, he continued: “My daughter, I want what is good for myself; I beg the same for you. Now there is no other way to bring this about than to ask the Virgin Mary constantly to come to you with her glorious Son.”

He told the woman, “Be bold! Ask her to give you her Son, who in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar is truly the food of your soul. Readily will she give him to you, still more readily will he come to you, giving you the strength to make your way fearlessly through this dark wood.”

He warned her, though, that she must not receive Jesus simply as a means to further her own plans. “I want you,” he wrote, “to surrender to him, that he may welcome you and, as your divine savior, do to you and in you whatever he wills.”

He concluded the letter very strongly: “This is what I want, this is what I beg of you, this, as far as I can, is what I compel you to do.” †

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