I finished up reading the book "A Soldier Surrenders: The Conversion of St. Camillus de Lellis" by Susan Peek. If you remember, the Church celebrated his feast day awhile back.
The reason I bought this book in the first place was because of my mom. I mentioned the other day that he was her patron last year, but my dad thinks he was her patron this year. Regardless, I got the book because I figured she would be interested in reading it.
Well, the Holy Spirit moves in sneaky ways, hmmm? I started and finished the book quickly. In the introduction, the author's husband writes:
If you, while skimming these words, are casually standing in your local bookstore browsing for a good book to read, but you feel you are already well advanced on the road to sanctity, this book is probably not for you. No, this is a story for the rest of us, the common herd - we folk who, when entering a confessional, still find we have some actual sins to confess. Saint Camillus is for us. He is our champion. He could be aptly described as the unofficial patron saint of strugglers. ...
The Catholic Church justly boasts of some magnificent examples of valiant penitence. The names of Saint Mary Magdalen, Saint Paul, and Saint Augustine spring readily to mind. Yet these monumental figures tend to give us the impression that, once converted, they never slid back. Although possibly tempted, they never once sinned again. They appear to have attained to an almost instant sanctity.
Saint Camillus can in no way make a claim of belonging to such an elite corps. In fact, quite the contrary. He had his weaknesses, his relapses. His earlier spiritual progress rose, staggered, fell, rose again, only to fall once more. But he never stopped trying. He never despaired to the point of giving up all hope. He was a soldier, and he battled on. Why? What drove him? Ultimately and simply the love of God. It is above all this love, this divine charity, that subsequently overflowed and became the life's work for which he is honored upon the altars of the Catholic Church.The Holy Spirit knew that here was a saint for me - not my mom. Here was a saint who struggled again and again - and backslid into serious sin again and again. His mother, like my mom, was a pious woman, who prayed often for her child. St. Camillus struggled with his temper his whole life - and I struggle with my temper all the time.
(There are a multitude of reasons behind having a terrible temper; family upbringing/dynamics/history is part of it, I'm sure. I don't remember a time when I didn't struggle with my temper, to be honest.)
This book chronicles his life and his struggles and relapses and details the ups and downs of a real faith life. I think that's what was so appealing to me as I read this book. Even up to the end of his life, when he was the head of a hospital, he struggled with conquering his anger. This was actually an enduring image for me - he got so angry about a merchant cheating the hospital that he threw out 22 200-pound sacks of flour out on the street, but that was after he knocked the unscrupulous merchant around first!
What a model he can be for me! My temper often gets the best of me - instead of me being its master. The first thing I though of when I read the midday reading for Liturgy of the Hours:
Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it (1 Cor. 9:26-27a)I suspect that my anger will be my cross to bear my entire life, that I must master it, instead of being a slave to it as I have been.
I look forward to having another patron in my arsenal against sin, against the devil's temptations, and against my own weaknesses.
St. Camillus, pray for us.