Happy Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine!

bf-bellarmine-calvin-problemIt’s our name day, and we are pleased to have such a powerful intercessor for the Bellarmine Forum.

St. Bellarmine, besides being a doctor of the Church, is well noted among us for his continual highlighting the extent to which God went over and above all bounds in the things He has done, and does, for us. In his debates with Calvin, it became apparent to Bellarmine that Calvin had such a rotten view of God, and developed a theology based around a poor image of God. Calvin, in Bellarmine’s estimation, refused to admit that God loved us. Yet, for all of the John 3:16 quotes we see, it appears that Calvin’s view of God persists today.

Another topic of great interest to Bellarmine was providence. Bellarmine was known for playing chess and enjoying leisure. There is a popular account that people who wished to impose an image of piety on lifestyle, asked him once what he would do if Gabriel sounded the trumpets of Apocalypse while he was playing a game of chess. Bellarmine responded: “I’d keep playing chess, because it seem that’s what God wanted me to be doing when the trumpet sounds.”

So we should be — interested in God’s involvement and love of our live in all our endeavors. That is to say, God does not take interest in us because we put on airs of piety and act differently, but God takes interest in us because He loves us! So it is that God wants to share all our life with us. We should pray always, be with God in all things, even when playing chess, driving to work, or doing the mundane things of life.

We stress this point frequently, but it comes from Fr. Hardon’s analysis of Bellarmine’s writings, and it underscores the method of the Bellarmine Forum:

One thing that Bellarmine teaches us is that the root of evil is error and the root of error is ignorance. If we want to root out evil, we must teach the truth. It is not enough to believe. With God’s grace, which means reflection and prayer, you must understand what you believe.

St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us! Pray for the Bellarmine Forum that we continue to teach truth well!

One of our more recent endeavors to make truth understood better, and clearly, is the addition of the Catechism Explained. Pick any topic from the Table of Contents and see just how clear and readable, and just how fruitful, this catechism is.

Another surprising thing about St. Robert Bellarmine is very similar to the recent surprises we posted about St. Pius X, and that is the concern for his vow of poverty that he exercised to extremes. Tells Fr. Hardon:

Bellarmine, though a bishop and a cardinal, insisted on living in a Jesuit house, though by Canon Law he would have been exempt from that obligation. He especially wanted to practice poverty. One day his superiors came into his room and discovered that all the window and wall hangings in his room had been removed. They had been put there because of the dignity of his office. He had taken every strip of silk and velvet and damask and had given the cloth to the poor so they might keep warm. He reasoned that the walls do not catch cold, but people do. Rome can be very cold in winter; however, members of his community never remembered him having heat in his room.

Sounds a lot like certain other Jesuits today, and the reactions sound similar as well. Some things never change.

God our Father,
you gave Robert Bellarmine
wisdom and goodness
to defend the faith of your Church.
By his prayers
may we always rejoice
in the profession of our faith.

This article, Happy Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine! is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.

John B. Manos

John B. Manos, Esq. is an attorney and chemical engineer. He has a dog, Fyo, and likes photography, astronomy, and dusty old books published by Benziger Brothers. He is the President of the Bellarmine Forum.

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