Homily on the Feast St. Charles Borromeo
Feast of Saint Charles Borromeo
4 November 2023
We are celebrating the feast of Saint Charles Borromeo, the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, a Confessor of the Faith, the Patron Saint of the City of Milan and of the Ambrosian Diocese. A Saint who, like all the Saints proclaimed by the Church before the conciliar revolution, today would be pointed out as divisive, intolerant and fundamentalist by the tenant of Santa Marta, who is considered to be the Successor of those Popes who wanted this great Prelate to come to Rome, first as a member of the Holy Office and Secretary of State – under his uncle Pius IV – and then as a consultant to the Council of Trent and an executor of the reform that it implemented at the end of the sixteenth century, under the reign of Saint Pius V. He was president of the commission of theologians appointed by the Pope to draw up the Catechismus Romanus together with some of the great figures of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, such as Saint Peter Canisius, Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo and Saint Robert Bellarmine. He worked on the revision of the Missal, the Breviary and the sacred liturgical music; he was involved in the foundation of the Seminaries – an eminently Tridentine institution – and in the defense of Holy Orders, priestly celibacy, and marriage. He was a very zealous Pastor, generous towards the poor and the sick, an implacable opponent of the Reformed and Protestant heretics, and was charitable and welcoming towards the English Catholics who took refuge in Italy to escape the persecutions of Queen Elizabeth I.
In short, Saint Charles was in his own right a true “conciliar” bishop, who tirelessly promoted the spirit of the “post-conciliar period” both in the universal Church and in the Ambrosian Church. I imagine that, formulated like this, this statement might cause some astonishment; but if we pay attention to it, the role of this Holy Bishop with respect to the Council of Trent was similar to that which, four hundred years later, other Bishops and Prelates played in the Council called by John XXIII. Similar, but diametrically opposite in its goal and purpose. And it is in this that we can understand the difference that exists between being good Shepherds faithful to Christ and being mercenaries in the pay of the enemy. In this we can see the difference between the good and faithful servant who makes fruitful use of the talents received from his Lord and the evil servant who buries them (Lk 19:22).
What therefore constitutes the difference between Saint Charles Borromeo – and along with him all the Holy Confessors of the Faith – and the current Episcopate? The difference is Charity, that is, the love of God above all things and the love of one’s neighbor for love of Him. It was in fact the fire of Charity, illuminated by Faith, that animated Saint Charles with apostolic zeal throughout his life. Without Charity, he would have left the heretics in heresy and would not have fought their errors. Without Charity he would not have helped the poor, the sick, and the plague-stricken. Without Charity he would not have provided for the training of clerics, the discipline of priests and religious, the reform of the customs of parish priests, the decorum of the Sacred Liturgy. Without Charity he would have asked English Catholics, in the name of inclusiveness, to dialogue with their heretical queen who was the ferocious enemy of the “papists.” Without Charity, which makes us love God in His sublime Truth and detest everything that clouds His teaching, Saint Charles would not have participated in the Council of Trent to define more forcefully the points of Catholic doctrine contested by the Lutherans and Calvinists, but indeed he would have tried to smooth over any theological divergence so as not to make them feel excluded and judged. He would have marginalized good priests and faithful laity, accusing them of being rigid and mocking them in his writings or in his homilies. He would not have bothered to monitor the morality of the Clergy, instead promoting the unworthy to ensure their subservience. That is, he would have acted like the Bishops of Vatican II or like the courtiers of Santa Marta, abandoning souls to the danger of eternal damnation and neglecting his duties as Pastor and Successor of the Apostles. He would have demonstrated that he did not love God, because those who do not recognize Him as He revealed Himself cannot love Him in His divine perfections, and whoever lets even a single soul wander far from the Lord without trying to convert him does not love his neighbor, because he does not desire his good but rather his approval, or worse, his complicity. If Borromeo had behaved in this way he would have loved himself and the ideological projection of a church that was “his” church, nullifying the talents he received, and today we would not celebrate him among the glory of the Saints, but we would instead remember him among the heresiarchs. If Borromeo had behaved according to the “everyone, everyone is welcome, everyone is inside” mantra of the tenant of Santa Marta, the souls placed by Providence along his path to be saved would have been lost.
If we want to have further proof of the abyss that separates the Holy Shepherds – and Saint Charles among them – from the mercenaries who today infest the Church of Christ, it is sufficient for us to imagine how he would judge the participants in the Synod on Synodality, and what he would say about Bergoglio’s condemnation of those who “limit themselves to abstractly re-proposing formulas and patterns of the past,” of Bergoglio’s invitation to an “evolution of the interpretation” of the Holy Scriptures, of the cult of the Pachamama, of his standing rather than kneeling coram Sanctissimo, of the Abu Dhabi Declaration, of the alleged role of women in the government of the Church, of the desire to abolish Sacred Celibacy, of the admission of concubinage partners and divorced people to Holy Communion, of the blessing of homosexual unions and the promotion of the LGBTQ+ ideology, of having promoted a harmful and deadly vaccine, of having become a zealous supporter of the Agenda 2030. And we do not think that the reaction of Saint Charles would be an exception: there is not a single one of the Saints, Doctors of the Church, or Popes, up to and including Pius XII, who would approve anything of what is currently happening in the Vatican. On the contrary, every one of them without distinction would recognize in the action of government and pseudo-magisterium of the past few decades – and of the present “pontificate” in particular – the work of the Enemy infiltrating the sacred precinct, and would not hesitate to condemn it without appeal, along with its creators, just as every one of them condemned the errors of their own times and multiplied their efforts to protect the flock entrusted to them and confirm it in the Truth.
Church and anti-church are set against one another, in this epochal moment, so that that the mysterium iniquitatis which until now we have seen emerge only episodically in the course of History – and which has always been energetically opposed by holy Pastors – now appears in all its crude reality.
On one side is the Church of Christ is an acies ordinata, moved by Charity in Faith for the glory of God and the sanctification of souls, in the gratuitousness of Grace. She is semper eadem, in the immutability that comes from her Head, who is the most perfect God and whose Word is unchanging throughout the centuries. On the other side is the synagogue of Satan, the ancient conciliar and synodal church, whose corrupt ministers are driven by personal interest, by the thirst for power and pleasure, blinded by the pride that makes them put themselves before the Majesty of God and the salvation of souls: a sect of traitors and renegades who do not recognize any immutable principle but who feed on temporariness, contradictions, misunderstandings, deceptions, lies and foul blackmail. This antichurch can only be intrinsically revolutionary, because its subversion of the divine order does not accept anything eternal a priori, and indeed abhors it precisely because it is immutable, because it cannot tamper with it, since there is nothing to add to its perfection or to modify. The permanent revolution, a hallmark of the current ecclesiastical structure, has seduced many faithful laity and clergy with the lure of the liberal mentality and Hegelian thought, making many moderates believe that their momentary quiet existence is sufficient to guarantee an impossible coexistence between Tradition and Revolution, due to the sole fact that they are allowed to celebrate the ancient Mass in exchange for accepting the compromise and not questioning Vatican II, just as the Jews compromised with the priests of Baal at the time of the prophet Elijah.
The Catholic adage nihil est innovandum – nothing is to be changed – is not a sterile entrenchment in preconceived positions for fear of facing what is new, as the false shepherds who have infiltrated the Church would have us believe. On the contrary, it expresses the serene awareness that the Truth of Christ – which is Christ himself, the Λόγος, the eternal Word of the Father, the Alpha and Omega – does not know the corruption of time, because it belongs to the perfection of God: veritas Domini manet in æternum (Ps. 116:2). For this reason there is not, nor can there be, a substantial change in the teaching of the Church: because her Magisterium is and must be that of her Divine Founder. And if there is anything that the good of souls requires to be highlighted in greater light, this must always and in any case consist in our own personal reform, that is, in bringing our response to the immutable teaching of Our Lord back to the fidelity of the original form. Because it is not the eternal perfection of God that must adapt to our miserable mutability, but rather our own unfaithfulness must seek being conformed to God’s will as the model and goal: sicut in cœlo et in terra.
For the first time in History, in this battle between the Church and the anti-church, the former is not only marginalized and persecuted, but also finds herself defrauded of the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff, which has been usurped and used to demolish its own authority from the very foundations, in order to make official a transition that began sixty years ago. She sails without a helmsman in a great storm (Dante, Inferno, VI, 77). If we did not have the promise of Christ with the Non prævalebunt, one would believe that the gates of hell are now triumphant. But we know that the apparent victory of the Enemy is all the closer to the end the greater the arrogance of those who dare to challenge Our Lord, and that our tribulations are the blessed earthly punishment with which He purifies us, putting before us the horror of the apostasy of a pope and also many bishops along with him. Let us therefore thank the Divine Majesty for having made so many masks fall off, behind which lost souls were hiding. Masks that dropped off especially during the farce of the Synod on Sinodality, and which allow us to understand how true and timely the words Our Lord’s words are: No one can serve two masters (Lk 16:13).
Along with Charity there is always holy Humility, which nurses this theological virtue. Saint Charles was a truly humble man and pastor. Not in stripping himself of his cardinalatial or episcopal dignity; not in behaving or speaking in a rough way by affecting simplicity; Not in showing off a fake poverty followed by photographers, or in kissing the hand of the great usurers of the synagogue, or in simulating compassion for the poor used as an ideological flag. Saint Charles was humble and poor in secret, far from the eyes of the masses, where only the Lord sees the purity of our intentions and the sincerity of our heart.
In the face of the crisis that troubles the Holy Church and the apostasy of the hierarchy, we must take an example from what Saint Charles did, and at the same time avoid what Saint Charles avoided: a golden rule that will allow us to discern how to behave in these terrible times. This certainly applies to the faithful, but even more so to the ministers of God to religious, who in the great archbishop of Milan can find a model of life and holiness. A model that remains valid precisely because it has as its only purpose the love of God and of one’s neighbor, and does not chase after the spirit of the times or try to please the prince of this world. This is what invites us to make our own the prayer of the Mass for his feast day: O God, who have adorned your Church with the healthy reforms made by Saint Charles, your confessor and high priest, graciously grant us to feel his heavenly protection, and to imitate his example while here on earth. And so may it be.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop
November 4, 2023
S.cti Caroli Borromæi,
Episcopi Mediolanensis et Confessoris