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It is known that Napoleon I had Pope Pius VII (1742-1823) arrested and kept him prisoner in Savona. The jailers refused the Pope any comfort, sometimes even the necessities, so that the august old man did not even have clothes suitable for his rank. His white cassock was falling apart. So he asked a tailor to mend it. At the sight of the Pope’s worn-out habit, the tailor was moved with pity, and to show the misery to which the Holy Father had been reduced, he showed the cassock to the inhabitants of the little town. Everyone wanted a souvenir of the Holy Father, and the tailor was obliged to cut the cassock into pieces to satisfy their desire. They then bought a beautiful new cassock and gave it to the Pope with the proceeds of a collection made among themselves. The Holy Father thanked them and distributed the money to the poor.
William I, King of Holland, persecuted the Catholic Church and tried to prevent the Dutch bishops from communicating with the Holy See. One day he sent for a bishop and said to him: “I am surprised that you obey the Pope’s orders so slavishly. Can’t good bishops do without the Pope?” Quick to reply, the bishop answered, “Perfectly, just as ministers can do without the king.”
As the branches and twigs of the tree are intimately linked to the trunk and cannot subsist without it, so it is with the clergy with regard to the Holy See.
Saint Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva, once entered a Capuchin church belonging to his diocese on a journey. It was Lent and the preacher was talking about the luxury of clothing. He also attacked the bishops who, instead of setting a good example, wore, in his opinion, too many rich ceremonial clothes and traveled in carriages. After the sermon, the holy bishop went to the sacristy and called for the preacher. When they were alone, Saint Francis said to him with his proverbial gentleness: “My friend, you have had a very edifying sermon. Perhaps it is true that we ecclesiastical superiors have faults, from which you religious are exempt. Nevertheless, I believe that it is imprudent to say such things publicly. Besides, ecclesiastical dignitaries must necessarily wear a habit appropriate to their rank. And then you do not know what is often found under the silk garment.” At these words the bishop opened the top of his cassock and the Capuchin, all confused, saw that he was wearing a coarse habit of bure. Then Saint Francis added: “I wanted to show you this to teach you that humility and the spirit of mortification can very well find their place under a silk habit and to exhort you to be more prudent in your words and less rash in your judgments from now on.”
If the dignitaries of the Church were dressed in rags, they would be accused of avarice, uncleanness, etc… And many people would lose the respect due to men of God.
Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and of the Mother of God. Amen.
O Jesus! We are going to walk with You on the road to Calvary which was so painful for You. Make us understand the greatness of Your sufferings, touch our hearts with tender compassion at the sight of Your torments, in order to increase in us the regret of our faults and the love we wish to have for You.
Deign to apply to all of us the infinite merits of Your Passion, and in memory of Your sorrows, show mercy to the souls in Purgatory, especially to those who are most abandoned.
O Divine Mary, who first taught us to make the Way of the Cross, obtain for us the grace to follow Jesus with the sentiments Your Heart was filled with as You accompanied Him on the road to Calvary. Grant that we may weep with You, and that we may love Your divine Son as You do. We ask this in the name of His adorable Heart. Amen.