Thursday, February 04, 2010

St. Andrew Corsini, Bishop and Confessor of the Carmelite Order

O God! who dost ever renew the examples of virtue in Thy Church; grant that Thy people may so walk in the footsteps of Blessed Andrew, Thy Confessor and Pontiff, whose feast we celebrate today, that they may obtain the same rewards. Through our Lord.

St Andrew Corsini of illustrious Corsini family, was born in Florence in 1302 and died 1373. Wild and dissolute in youth, he was startled one day by the words of his mother about what had happened to her before his birth, and, becoming a Carmelite monk in his native city, began a life of great mortification. He studied at Paris and Avignon, and, on his return, became the Apostle of Florence. He was regarded as a prophet and a thaumaturgus, or wonders maker. Called to the See of Fiesoli, he fled, but was discovered by a child, and compelled to accept the honour. He redoubled his austerities as a bishop, was lavish in his care of the poor, and was sought for everywhere as a peacemaker, notably at Bologna, whither he was sent as papal legate to heal the breach between the nobility and the people. After twelve years in the episcopacy, he died at the age of seventy-one, and miracles were so multiplied at his death that Eugenius IV permitted a public cult immediately; but it was only in 1629 that Urban VIII canonized him. His feast is kept on 4 February.

St Gregory of Nysa tell us in his sermon of the battle with passions St Andrew had to endured to become a holy person.

When the pure and modest church first looked upon the Blessed Andrew, she saw that his countenance was truly made to the likness of God; she saw grace flowing in abundance from his lips; she saw his humility carried to a degree beyond which she could conceive none higher; she saw gentleness and mercy like David's, understanding and prudence like Solomon's, goodness like that of Moses, perfection like Samuel's, continence and modesty equal to Joseph's, wisdom like Daniel's; she saw him endowed with zeal for the faith like unto that of the heavenly John, gifted like Paul, with charity that could not be quenched. She saw wounded with a blessed love, and with a chaste and righteous affection she loved her spouse, lavishing upon him the tokens of love. Yet before she had fulfilled her desire, before she had indulged and satisfied her longing, and while she was still on fire with love, temptations called the athlete to combat, and she was left alone. While he was pouring forth his sweat in the strife upon which he had entered in the cause of holiness, whe waited in chastity, guarding the marriage vow. The bridegroom is not taken away from us; he stands in our midst, although we see him not. Within the shrine, and in the innermost part of the temple, within the veil, where Christ, our forerunner, is entered for us, there is the Priest, who had left behind him the covering of his flesh. No longer doth he serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, but he gazeth upon the very image of the things. No longer seeing through a glass, not through a lattice, in a dark manner, but to face, he intercedeth with God. He intercedeth for us also, and for the sins of his people. He hath laid aside his garment of skins, for they that dwell ion Paradise need not such garments, but he hath the covering which he hath woven out of purity of his life, and with it hath adorned himself. The death of such a man is honorable and precious in the sight of the Lord. Verily, it is not death, but the breaking loose from the hold of the flesh; for he sayeth, "Thou hast broken my bonds." Simon hath been dismissed; he hath been freed from the bonds of the body. The snare is broken and the little bird hath flown away. He hath reached the promised land, and he speaketh wisdom with God upon the Mount. he hath loosed the shoes of the soul, that with the pure feet of the mind he may go up to the holy ground where God is see.