Saturday, August 18, 2007

"Young Robert Bellarmine Was Dying..."

"Cheer up, where there's life there's hope." St. Robert Bellarmine wrote this to a discouraged lad. He should know. Little Robert Bellarmine was virtually bed ridden for 3 to 4 years of his young life. He overcame that little blessing, but things were different as a Florence college student.

Robert Bellarmine was dying. What disease was it? We don't know. But he wasn't going to finish college alive.

He missed most of his classes and had to teach himself the subject material. His severe fatigue, constant migraines, high temperatures and only God know what else couldn't stop his thirst for knowledge. Of course it helps to be a genius. Robert Bellarmine could memorize an hour long Latin sermon by reading it once.

His disease didn't stop his desire to imitate Christ by performing corporal works of mercy. During college breaks he would visit prisoners and sick patients at the hospital scrubbing floors, cooking, burying the dead and praying with the dying.

It was during one of these visits that he shared his story with a sick patient. Brother Finali relates the story he over heard.

"One day Robert Bellarmine came into a room of a sick man. Robert Bellarmine had told the patient he had begun to seriously doubt whether he would be able to go on with working or fulfilling his duties because of the disease he was suffering. But hope did not die in Bellarmine's heart that God would take away this obstacle to the better service of His Divine Majesty. And so he prayed. 'Dear Lord, I do not want to die now because I want to work for You.'

Robert Bellarmine's prayer was immediately answered.


[3] More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
[4] and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
[5] and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

God had a purpose for this suffering little servant. St. Bellarmine was full of Hope because of the graces he received while suffering.

Let us persevere in our suffering so your hearts can be filled the Hope, who is Jesus.

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