ST. JEROME EMILIANI
Born in Venice. Converted to Christianity after a rather dissolute youth, St. Jerome (1486-1537) dedicated himself to the service of the poor, the sick, and abandoned children. He founded a congregation (Somaschi) which looked after the education of children, especially orphans. He died of the plague while serving the afflicted.
Place your trust in God alone
(A Sermon of Saint Jerome Emiliani)
Sons of the Society of the Servants of the Poor, and dearly beloved brothers in Christ: Greetings from your poor father. I urge you to persevere in your love for Christ and your faithful observance of the law of Christ. In word and work I set an example for you when I was with you. And so the Lord is glorified in you through me.
Our goal is God, the source of all good. As we say in our prayer, we are to place our trust in God and in no one else. In his kindness, our Lord wished to strengthen your faith, for without it, as the evangelist points out, Christ could not have performed many of his miracles. He also wished to listen to your prayer, and so he ordained that you experience poverty, distress, abandonment, weariness and universal scorn. It was also his desire to deprive you of my physical presence, even though I am with you in spirit as your poor, dear, beloved father.
God alone knows the reasons for all this, yet we can recognise three causes. In the first place, our blessed Lord is telling you that he desires to include you among his beloved sons, provided that you remain steadfast in his ways, for this is the way he treats his friends and makes them holy.
The second reason is that he is asking you to grow continually in your confidence in him alone and not in others. For God, as I said before, does not work in those who refuse to place all their confidence and hope in him alone. But he does impart the fullness of his love upon those who possess a deep faith and hope; for them he does great things. So if you have been endowed with faith and hope, he will do great things for you; he will raise up the lowly. In depriving you of myself and everyone else you have loved, he will offer you an opportunity to choose one of these alternatives: either you will forsake your faith and return to the ways of the world, or you will remain steadfast in your faith and pass the test.
Now there is a third reason. God wishes to test you like gold in the furnace. The dross is consumed by the fire, but the pure gold remains and its value increases. It is in this manner that God acts with his good servant, who puts his hope in him and remains unshaken in times of distress. God raises him up and, in return for the things he has left out of love for God, he repays him a hundredfold in this life and with eternal life hereafter.
This is the way God has dealt with all the saints. So it was with his people Israel after their period of trial in Egypt. He not only led them out of Egypt with many miracles and fed them with manna in the desert, he also gave them the promised land. If then you remain constant in faith in the face of trial, the Lord will give you peace and rest for a time in this world, and for ever in the next.
O God, Father of mercies, who sent Saint Jerome Emiliani as a helper and father to orphans, grant, through his intercession, that we may preserve faithfully the spirit of adoption, by which we are called, and truly are, your children. Through our Lord.