Saint of the Day – Oct 10, 2021

Saint Francis Borgia

Francis Borgia was born October 28, 1510 in Gandia, Valencia, Spain as the son of the Duke of Gandia, the great grandson, from his father’s side, of Pope Alexander VI, the notorious Borgia pope, and from his mother’s side, the great grandson of King Ferdinand of Aragon.

Francis’ grandmother joined her daughther in a convent of Poor Clares after the death of her husband and held a pious influence in the court of the Borgia, to which Francis is indebted. It was with these two women that holiness penetrated into the scandalous lineage of the Borgia family.

Francis grew to be a pious young man, posessed of many natural gifts and a favorite at the court of Charles V.  It is recounted that one day Francis passed through Alcalá, followed by his escort, and exchanged an emotional glance with a poor man being escorted to prison by the Inquisition. This man was Ignatius of Loyola, and at this moment Francis could not have had any idea what an important role this man would play in his destiny.

In 1539 Francis was appointed Viceroy of Catalonia, and four years later, upon the death of his father, the Duke of Gandia. He built a university there, received the degree of Doctor in Theology, and invited the Jesuits to his duchy.

His wife died in 1546, and Francis entered the Society of Jesus in 1548, but was ordered by the Pope to remain in the world until he had fulfilled his obligations to his ten children and his duchy.

Two years later he left Gandia, never to return, and joined the Jesuits in Rome. He immediately set about initiating grand projects – he convinced Ignatius to found the Roman College, and a year later he left for Spain, where his preaching and example sparked a renewal of religious fervour in the country, drawing pilgrims from far and wide to hear him preach.

In 1556 he was placed in charge of all the missions of the Society, and his energetic work transformed them. He also initiated the missions to Peru, New Spain and Brazil.

He was elected as general on July 2, 1565, and although in poor health for his last years, he executed the governance and initiated projects of the Society with great energy. He introduced so many reforms to the society of Jesus that he was considered in some ways to be its second founder. Francis was a man of contemplation and action in the fullest sense, and clearly drew much strength from the silence of his prayer.

He died in Rome on September 30, 1572, in Ferrara, Spain, two days after returning from an apostolic journey to Spain.

Saint Francis Borgia is one of the great saints of the Catholic Reformation, and was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1670.

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY

Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it! Luke 11:28

How often have we heard a message in church about how we could be better people—how we could serve more, pray more, forgive more—and we all nodded our heads in agreement and thought, “What a great message! Isn’t that priest wonderful?” only to walk out of the building and conveniently shift everything we have heard to the back burners of our mind. In today’s gospel, Jesus doesn’t waste an opportunity to remind us that the messenger is not as important as the message—a message that simply invites us to listen to the word, retain the word, be doers of the word and be transformed by the word. Maybe we could say, “Yes, God, I will listen, I will live as you ask. I will have faith, God.”

MOVIE SHELF – AMELIA

Amelia is a 2009 Canadian-American biographical film about the life of Amelia Earhart. Most of the story is told in flashbacks before ending with Earhart’s mysterious disappearance. The film was directed by Mira Nair and stars Hilary Swank as the title character and Richard Gere as her husband, George Putnam. The cast list also includes Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor. The film was written by Ronald Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan.

On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart (Hilary Swank) and her navigator, Fred Noonan (Christopher Eccleston), are on the last leg of an around-the-world flight. Moving in vignettes from her early years when Earhart was captivated by the sight of an aircraft flying overhead on the Kansas prairie where she grew up, her life over the preceding decade gradually unfolds. As a young woman, she is recruited by publishing tycoon and eventual husband, George Putnam (Richard Gere) to become the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean, albeit as a passenger. Taking command of the flight results in a success and she is thrust into the limelight as the most famous woman pilot of her time. Putnam helps Earhart write a book chronicling the flight, much like his earlier triumph with Charles Lindbergh’s We. Earhart gradually falls in love with Putnam and they eventually marry.

Embarrassed that her fame was not earned, Earhart commences to set myriad aviation records, and in 1932, recreates her earlier transatlantic flight, becoming the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic. Throughout a decade of notoriety, Earhart falls into an awkward love affair with pilot and future Federal Aviation administrator Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). In a display of romantic jealousy, Putnam quietly tells Amelia that he does not want Vidal in his house. Earhart is annoyed by the seemingly endless agenda of celebrity appearances and endorsements but Putnam reminds his wife that it funds her flying. Earhart returns to her husband on the eve of her last momentous flight. Earhart’s last flight was her biggest and most dangerous adventure to date. Her plan was to fly around the world. Earhart’s first attempt ends in a runway crash in Hawaii, due to a collapsed landing gear, and her aircraft requires extensive repairs before the flight can be attempted again. Eventually, she takes the repaired Lockheed Model 10 Electra, sponsored by Purdue University, in a reverse direction, leaving the lengthy trans-Pacific crossing at the end of her flight.

Setting out to refuel at tiny Howland Island, radio transmissions between USCGC Itasca, a Coast Guard picket ship, and Earhart’s aircraft reveal a rising crisis; the Coast Guard radio operators realize that they do not have sufficient length to provide a “fix”. Itasca has a directional finder with a dead battery, and weak radio communications prevent Earhart and USCGC Itasca from making contact. Running low on fuel, Earhart and Noonan continue to fly on. Earhart and Noonan disappear. A massive search effort is unsuccessful, but solidifies Earhart as an aviation icon.