Notebook

A Tiny Spark

‘If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out. Keep the stove tightly shut so that it will not lose its heat and grow cold.’

This was advice St Charles Borromeo gave to priests. He was one of the most enterprising forces behind the great movement of renewal that followed the Council of Trent. He did not advocate passivity or a kind of quietism; but he stressed that no outward work will bear fruit in the Church unless it alive with a fire that is of God. The last part of the collect for the feast is a prayer for the present moment: ‘Shape and renew your Church until it bears the image of Christ, and shows his true likeness to the world.’