Tuesday 6 July 2021

Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley - CTS Great Saints

Charles Borromeo
CTS Great Saints
J.B. Midgley
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860823411
CTS Booklet B685

A couple of years ago I encountered the works of J.B. Midgley and was very impressed with his writing. I worked at tracking all his books down. And it took me a few years. This was the final volume I needed to have a copy of all of his works. I still have a few to read but it has been well worth tracking down all 28 books by J.B. Midgley. Twenty-six of those books were for the Catholic Truth Society.  And 6 of those were from the CTS Great Saints Series. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have loved most of them. I first read a book by Midgley almost exactly 2 years ago. And after this one I still have 6 to go. This volume is a great book, by an excellent author in an amazing series! 

The description on the back of the book is:

“Mother Thesres of Calcutta once said: “Preach the Gospel and only if absolutely necessary use words.” 

Charles Borromeo, Cardinal archbishop of Milan, outstanding reformer and spiritual leader, was a shining example Friend of St Philip Neri, St Edmund Campion and many of those who lived during the tumultuous times of the 16th-century Europe, he was in every way, ahead of his time. ‘Shall I tell you how to go from strength to strength? Concentrate on what is essential … make sure that your life and conduct are sermons in themselves’.”

And the chapters in this little volume are:

The Formative Years
Signs of Revival
The Council of Trent
Priest and Bishop
Dangerous Times
A Tireless Reformer
“A Light to the Church”

I have encountered this saint many times in the past. In Church history courses. In Theology courses. And just generally in reading. He encountered and knew so many others that were canonized as well. But reading in detail about his life, his works, his ministry and his travels was truly astounding. And reading about this saint, I cannot help but pray that God raises up Godly priests, bishops and cardinals like this man. This book opens with these words:

“Whenever the Church encounters periodic difficulties, God raises up Holy men and women to restore confidence and give guidance to his people. Among them are succors to the Apostles, the Shepherds to whom Christ entrusts the care of His Flock. A shining example is Charles Borromeo, the great Catholic reformer of the sixteenth century.”

And speaking about Borromeo we are informed:

“He attached the greatest importance to the education and continued development of priests who celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass which is at the heart of Catholic life, who preach the Gospel, administer the Sacraments as channels of sanctifying grace, and who teach God’s People how to love and praise Him. In his new and reformed seminaries, therefore, he appointed devoted Rectors who were faithful to the teachings of the Church, and unequivocally loyal to the successor of St. Peter.”

And we are told that:

“It was his honour that Pope John XXIII chose to open the Second Vatican Council in 1962 on 4th November, Charles Borromeo’s feast day.”

About his youth we are informed:

“He and Margaret brought up their children to know the importance of prayer as a natural part of life, and that it accompanied almsgiving to assist those in need.”


“Scholarship did not come easily to him, though he more than compensated for any lack of aptitude by a capacity for hard work and attention to detail.”

He worked hard and was a dedicated student. He realized the importance and did not let worldly things distract him:

“He was unaffected by the temptations of life in the city with its relaxed attitudes to morality, and avoided distractions that would have interfered with his prayer-life.”

Charles accomplished more in single areas of his life than most of us do today. He did it through prayer, devotion, dedication, and hard work. His list of accomplishments includes reform of seminaries, reform of diocese, his contributions to the Council of Trent, his work implementing that council. It was a life lived to the full. His life brings to mind two versus:

“Blessed is he who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, for he shall be filled.”
Matthew 5:6
“For the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I am come that they might have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10

His life exemplified both. An abundant life and being filled with righteousness. This book is an excellent read. Inspiring, challenging, and encouraging. Another great read from the pen of Midgley and from the Catholic Truth Society. It took me a while to track down a copy of this book, but it was well worth it!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by J.B. Midgley:

Advent & Christmastide with the Saints
Antonio Rosmini
Benedict - Patron of Europe
Bernard of Clairvaux – CTS Great Saints
Charles Borromeo  - CTS Great Saints
Companion to St. Joseph
Companion to the Feasts of Mary
Companion to Saint Peter
Companion to Saint Paul
Companion to the Angels
Companion to the Feasts of Our Lord
Companion to the Passion of Our Lord
Dominic - CTS Great Saints
George: Patron of England - CTS Great Saints
Dewi Sant: St David Patron of Wales
Francis de Sales – CTS Great Saints
John Baptist de La Salle – CTS Great Saints
John Vianney – CTS Great Saints
Lent with the Saints
Nurturing the Young
Robert Bellarmine
Saint John the Baptist 
Stations of the Cross and Resurrection with the Saints
The Eucharist with the Saints
The Four Evangelists
Thomas Becket – CTS Saints of the Isles
Vincent de Paul – CTS Great Saints
Witchcraft, Sorcery and Magic

Contributed to:
First Fridays and First Saturdays The Devotions Explained 

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

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