Friday, December 25, 2009
...He spent the greater part of both day and night in prayer, in reading, and meditation; nor could all the works of piety and mercy in which he was daily engaged distract him from the consideration of any of the eternal truths.
It is impossible to say how a man with a wounded leg, and with callosities on his knees like sharp bones, could remain so long keeling without any support.
He often recommended his religious not to forget to pray for the benefactors of the order, living and dead, for the soul in purgatory, for those who were living in mortal sin, and principally for those who were in their agony. He said more than once that every one of our Fathers, without leaving his own room, might be present by prayer and recommended the soul of every person in the world who was in his agony.
He was anxious that all his religious should be men of prayer, and wished that, whether they were at home, in the hospitals, or in the streets , their thoughts should always be occupied with some devout subject. He used to say, "Woe to that religious who is contented with his mornings' mental prayer, and remains all the rest of the day with his mind distracted here and there; such a one in the evening will find his hands full of flies and wind." Indeed, he wished that the body only should be occupied with external exercises, and that the soul should always, as far as possible, be kept united internally with God.
So great was his care not to offer the Holy Sacrifice with his conscience defiled with even the slightest defect, that once when he was saying Mass in the hospital of St. Spirito, in the presence of all the servants of the establishment, just before the consecration he remembered having rebuked a little too harshly a novice who was serving his Mass. He would not proceed without first turning and begging pardon, at the same time advising him not to communicate that day, for fear he might be a little ill-tempered.
The Life of St. Camillus of Lellis by Father Sanzio Ciccatelli, trans. by Father Frederick Faber. pp. 293-301
'the very key of Paradise is, "not to be satisfied with avoiding sin, but to avoid even the least shadow and risk of sin."'
...It was his constant principle that he had learned in the school of Cassian, that no one could think of advancing in other virtues who had not learned to mortify his palate.
He usually sat in his room without a fire, half frozen. In the middle of summer he would walk to the hospital in the heat of the day. If often happened that, as he was going at night to assist the sick or on his travels, he was overtaken by a storm of hail or heavy rain; but he never complained or showed any signs of annoyance.
...Although the wound in his leg was extremely painful, yet so far from trying to alleviate it, he would even irritate it by stamping on the ground, or taking long walks, or riding, which was very distressing to him.
...At other times, he would sigh and say: "...If it were possible, men ought never to sleep, but always be laboring and suffering for the glory of God."
...one night the brother who had to wake him to go and watch the sick, seeing him so weak and weary, left him sleeping: but in the morning Camillus reproved him, saying: "God forgive you, my brother; when will you have me do any good, as you made me lose this night, without spending it in the service of the poor?"
Once he took his religious to a vineyard for recreation; while he was employed in spiritual conversation, he was told that a brother had made a flute of some reeds and was piping through the walks. He was so annoyed that he spoiled the whole of the recreation: "How is it possible," he kept saying, "that a Servant of the Sick should walk about a vineyard playing the flute?" He ordered him to be called, gave him a severe rebuke in the presence of all, and made him take the discipline on the spot as a penance.
...He was very particular about the education of the young, and did not wish their spiritual fervor to be cooled by scientific studies, nor their love of mortification and other virtues decreased by it; he used sometimes to quote the words of a companion of St. Francis: "O Paris, Paris, you have cooled my love for Assisi." And if he ever saw them at all relaxing from their mortifications, he rebuked them very severely.
The Life of St. Camillus of Lellis by Father Sanzio Ciccatelli, trans. by Father Frederick Faber. pp. 320-2
Friday, December 18, 2009
The faith of Camillus was likewise shown in the aversion which he always had for infidels. So that when he had occasion to speak of the heresies that were then so widely spread in France, Germany, and England, especially against the obedience due to the Holy See and the Roman Church, he would lift up his eyes to heaven and cry out with tears: "Is it possible that men should be so blind and not see the truth of our faith?...."
His aversion to heretics and infidels was so great that he seemed to know them by their smell. Thus, when he was once traveling from Milan with a large company on horseback, he conversed freely with all but one, who he said smelt like a heretic; and so indeed the man turned out to be. He remembered the counsel of St. John, not even to salute or eat with infidels, and so would have nothing to do with them or with Jews, especially with those who showed no respect at all for our religion.
The Life of St. Camillus of Lellis (not available online; use Interlibrary Loan) pg. 207
He avoided the sight of women with such determination that he would turn another way when he met them in the street, or if he could not do that, would pull down his hat over his eyes and quicken his pace so much that his companion would be obliged to run to keep up with him. But the finest thing was to see him when these meetings occurred in some narrow lane; then he would either turn back, or would flounder through the mud, without caring about getting his clothes dirty and being laughed at as a fool, so that only he might avoid any risk of troubling the purity of his soul.
In Florence one of his religious said to him: "I saw the queen of France today." But he screwed up his eyes and with some severity said to him: "And I would not have moved a step to see a woman." And not only did he avoid looking at women, but he used every possible precaution not to allow them to approach near him; and it was one of his greatest annoyances to have to listen to some lady-benefactress, who perhaps had come to him with a long story about her troubles, to have his advice and comfort.
One day a lady, in order to be heard better, kept trying to get nearer him, but the more she moved on, the more Camillus went back, so that at last they had moved their chairs half across the room.
He would never remain alone with any woman, however holy she might be, and there was no possible means that he would leave untried to prevent their kissing his hand: and if he ever had it kissed unawares, he would then with holy modesty secretly wipe it over and over again on his cloak, to the great astonishment of others.
A woman was once waiting at the gate of the Maddalena for Camillus to return, that she might kiss his hand and receive his blessing. When he came, she approached to perform what she intended. But Camillus would not allow her and went to ring the bell, wishing to escape the snare. The good woman saw this and renewed her entreaties with greater warmth. In the meantime the gate was opened, and the Saint leaped in, and covering his face with his right, saying: "God bless you, go in peace," and then he had the door shut directly [immediately] and would not even look at her.
Nor could he endure to see other persons stay to talk with women, and when this occurred with any of his religious, he always rebuked them severely....
He would never allow, either in men or women, any of those vanities in dress which could possibly excite any thought against purity. Thus he spoke very harshly to a young lady, a relative of his, for taking too much care in arranging her hair, and rebuked her father for allowing such idle vanities. Whenever he spoke in church, he blamed the ornaments of the women, and he would not allow his religious to speak of the fashions of dress, saying that, in the matter of chastity, persons ought to have a scruple about the very smallest things, if they wished to preserve it.
Nor was it only with others he was thus reserved: but he ever showed himself most scrupulous about his own person: so that when his hair was cut, he would not loosen his collar for fear of displaying his neck; and once when the physician ordered him a bath, when he came out, he caused himself to be covered up, and seeing just the end of his foot uncovered, he told the lay brother to help him to cover it, and showed great anxiety about it.
He avoided all places where there was singing, music, or dancing; and while he was in church making mental prayer with his religious, if he heard music or singing in the street, he would shake his head, and spit, and cough, and make noises, to prevent the sounds coming to his own or to his companions' ears.
...He was not satisfied with only rebuking this vice, without giving proper remedies to prevent it. Besides advising persons to avoid every, even the least, occasion of it and to give themselves to prayer, he taught that the flesh is not easily bridled, except by a continual mortification; and he adopted the words of Jesus Christ: "This kind of devil is not cast out but by prayer and fasting." His exhortation was the more efficacious as it was backed by his example; for though his body was already emaciated by his labors and by the pain of his wound, he exercised it with continual fasts, with discipline, hair shirts, and other instruments of penance. And although God had given him the privilege of being free from all temptations of the flesh, so that he felt no evil desires, yet for all this he did not think himself safe, but always stood on his guard, so that he would not even feel the pulse of sick women, unless their hand was covered with the sheet or with their bed-gown.
...although he lived freely as a soldier for some years, yet even then he always kept himself from all impurity, and he felt such disgust at this vice that he could not endure the company of those who were infected with it.
The Life of St. Camillus of Lellis by Father Sanzio Ciccatelli, trans. by Father Frederick Faber.
In their rules on religious modesty he was always most rigorus with regard to himself; whether in dressing or undressing, or in any other action, he was always so modest that he never allowed any part of his body to be seen naked; with regard to others, he was most vigilant and made unexpected visits to the school, the corridors, and the rooms, and if he saw any one not decently clothed, or unbuttoned, or in an improper position, he rebuked him sharply. p. 309