A Humble Brother II

St.Camillus: A Humble Brother II

Camillus returned to the monastery bathed in tears. The brothers found hard to believe their eyes. But the Guardian, implored by Camillus to permit him to enter the Order, felt it his duty to hasten slowly in coming to a decision. As never before, Camillus gave himself up to rigorous penances, passed long hours in never and labored untiringly in the monastery garden. He was finally received into the Order and, because of his tall stature, the Brethren called him Christopher, that giant of Licia who had once bent under the weight of the Child Jesus. Such were his fervor and humility that he was henceforth referred to as the Humble Brother. He was first to answer the call of duty, most exact in the smallest Rule, self-sacrificing in his work and last to table and bed. He was likewise the last and the least in his own estimation. Never before had he been so intensely happy. On being counseled to spare himself, he would plea that a wasted past had to be atoned; while he was yet young and strong he should he allowed to redeem the lost time.

Camillus was happy and determined to live and die as a Capuchin. He wanted to live in the practice of humility and penance, in an atmosphere of prayer. Unfortunately, the ulcer on his 1eg broke out afresh. It was so bad that the Superior was compelled, although with reluctance and sorrow, to send, him away. Should he be cured, the door would he wide open to receive him back. Camillus, broken-hearted, left the monastery and went back to the hospital of Saint James of the Incurables at Rome, where he had been treated before At St. James; Camillus was received with ill concealed distrust. The governors of this charitable institution were mindful of his tempestuous character, not to mention his bridled passion for gambling. No sooner was he on the premises than they discovered a changed man. Camillus was more preoccupied with others than with himself, he wore himself out attending the patients around him. To them he was a brother, a father and a mother. Thus for four years he served in the hospital with humility and edifying charity. During that time Saint Philip Neri, his confessor, molded and tempered his ardent, impulsive character. When he believed himself cured, Camillus returned to the Capuchin novitiate against the advice of Saint Philip. There he was received back with open arms. The sore, however, was soon to break out again, with the result that the Capuchins had no other option but to send him away for the second and last time

Back at Saint James’ Camillus offered himself to all, especially to the sick. He was appointed Master of the House, procurator and immediate director of the hospital. Nobody, least of all, Camillus himself, believed that he was there as a patient. He made up his mind to spend himself untiringly in the service of the sick, out of love of Jesus Crucified. Like a devoted mother, he would take them up in his arms to change their beds and linen without giving the slightest sign of the disgust. He passed long hours of the night consoling the most stricken. His heart went out more especially to those who were without friends, or had been cast off by their own family. Diligently, and with a strict hand, he saw to it that the nurses did not fail to carry out their duty to the patients. He personally supervised the meals and the distribution of medicine so that the best should be given them. Sternly he rebuked a dealer for having brought low quality grains and this unjust business man soon discovered it was better to improve his goods. Above all he secured for the patients the comfort of religion. He sought out good and saintly religious to hear their confession, and in a deep sense of piety would he accompany the priest administering the sacraments.

In spite of his vigilant and continuous supervision Camillus witnessed with growing displeasure a persisting lack of cooperation from the servants. In fact, they rendered his task more and more difficult by their constant unfaithfulness to duty. One night as he kept vigil alone by the bedside of the patients he conceived the idea, or rather received the inspiration, of doing away with mercenary nurses and committing this great work to the care of generous souls who would render service for the love of God and for their own personal sanctification. It seemed easy to him, absorbed as he was in this holy ideal, to impart to others the fire that consumed his own heart. Never did he doubt that he could secure approval and help of right-minded people for a labor as charitable as this. The new recruits would carry, as a distinctive Sign, the Cross on their habit. The following morning he opened his mind to certain colleagues in whom he had confidence. He sought and received the approval of a priest. It was not long before Camillus was to be seen in a small room of the hospital, surrounded by four laymen, to whom he explained and discussed his plan. Each day they spent some time in prayer and holy converse, inflamed like seraphs with the fire of charity.

Camillus counting in all simplicity on the support of the hospital authorities to launch his project was surprised and saddened by their opposition. A blunt refusal did not, however, dishearten him; he still hoped that things would improve. He learned however that the attitude of the administration was one of open and formal rejection. One day as he and his companions were about to carry out their private devotions in the small chapel, they discovered that the Crucifix had been taken down from the altar and thrown behind a door. Highly indignant Camillus would have immediately left the hospital but his love for the sick did not permit him. With the Crucifix lovingly held in his arms he went on his knees and gazed upon it for a long time. He arose more determined than ever to persevere in his design. St. Philip Neri, the spiritual father of Camillus, declared himself opposed to the plan. Discouraged in spirit at the sight of so little enthusiasm, Camillus prayed long and hard before his beloved Crucifix. One day, while he prayed, he saw the adorable Jesus come to life and detach His arms from the Cross. Distinctly Camillus heard these words: “Do not be afraid. Continue, this is my work, not yours.” Strength and determination returned to the soul of Camillus…

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