You Will Find Rest for Your Souls – Robert Bellarmine

“S weet Lord, you are meek and merciful.” Who would not give himself wholeheartedly to your service, if he began to taste even a little of your fatherly rule? What command, Lord, do you give your servants? “Take my yoke upon you,” you say. And what is this yoke of yours like? “My yoke,” you say, “is easy and my burden light.” Who would not be glad to bear a yoke that does no press hard but caresses? Who would not be glad for a burden that does not weigh heavy but refreshes? And so you were right to add: “And you will find rest for your souls.” And what is this yoke of yours that does not weary, but gives rest? It is, of course, that first and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” What is easier, sweeter, more pleasant, than to love goodness, beauty, and love, the fullness of which you are, O Lord, my God?

Is it not true that you promise those who keep your commandments a reward more desirable than great wealth and sweeter than honey? You promise a most abundant reward, for as your apostle James says: “The Lord has prepared a crown of life for those who love him.” What is this crown of life? It is surely a greater good than we can conceive of or desire, as Saint Paul says, quoting Isaiah: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Truly then the recompense is great for those who keep your commandments. That first and greatest commandment helps the man who obeys, not the God who commands. In addition, the other commandments of God perfect the man who obeys them. They provide him with what he needs. They instruct and enlighten him and make him good and blessed. If you are wise, then, know that you have been created for the glory of God and your own eternal salvation. This is your goal; this is the center of your life; this is the treasure of your heart. If you fail to reach it, you will find misery.

May you consider truly good whatever leads to your goal and truly eveil whatever makes you fall away from it. Prosperity and adversity, wealth and poverty, health and sickness, honors and humiliations, life and death, in the mind of the wise man, are not to be sought for their own sake, nor avoided for their own sake. But if they contribute to the glory of God and your eternal happiness, then they are good and should be sought. If they detract from this, they are eveil and must be avoided.

from On the Ascent of the Mind to God by Saint Robert Bellarmine

St. Robert Bellarmine

St. Roberts Bellarmine was baptized Roberto Francesco Romolo Bellarmino in his hometown of Montepulciano in Tuscany in 1542. In 1560 he entered the Jesuit’s Roman College and joined the Society of Jesus, being ordained priest in 1570. He was sent to the Catholic University Louvain Belgium in 1570 where he quickly gained a reputation for learning and eloquence. St. Robert moved back to Rome in 1576 where he became professor of controversial theology at the newly founded ‘Collegium Romanum’. He was created cardinal in 1599 and from 1602 to 1605 was Archbishop of Capua. His later years were spent in the composition of works of spirituality.

The life of St. Robert Bellarmine coincided with the Catholic Reformation, sometimes called the “Counter-Reformation,” which immediately followed the ecumenical Council of Trent. As a result, St. Robert’s work was largely devoted to scholarship and controversial theology. He proved himself a vigorous and successful opponent of the Protestants, whom he sought to win over to the Catholic position by reason and argument. Even the Protestant King James I of England engaged in controversy with him. His chief work was the Disputationes de Controversiis Christianae Fidei adversus hujus temporis Haereticos (3 vols., Ingolstadt, 1586-93), a systematic and clear apologia for the Roman Catholic position. He also took a prominent part in the production of the revised edition of the Vulgate, known as the Sixto-Clementine, in 1592. As regards to the Papacy, he supported Paul V in his struggle against Venice and defended the concept of the temporal authority of the Pope, though saw this power as indirect and limited. The reasonableness and fairness of this great post-Tridentine theologian is demonstrated by his sympathetic interest in Galileo and his scientific views that were harshly rejected as unbiblical by other Roman theologians of the day.

St. Robert Bellarmine was canonized in 1930 and declared to be a Doctor of the Church in 1931. His feast day in the Roman calendar is September 17th (formerly 13 May).