He was the patron Saint of my home parish at Hamrun in Malta when I was growing up in the first few years of my life. I remember being impressed by various paintings about his life in the parish church. He was born in Northern Italy in the time of the Protestant Reformation.

He worked hard for the poor and the sick, and the reform of the church.

He was one of many Catholic reformers.

He started a community of priests the Theatines to help in the reform of the church.

At this time, there was also a very virulent form of syphilis sweeping Europe which was incurable and brought terrible suffering to many.

He said in one of his letters, “Do not receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament so that you may use Him as you judge best, but give yourself to Him and let Him receive you in the Sacrament, so that He Himself, God your Saviour, may do to you, and through you, whatever He wills.”

I personally remember listening to another holy man some three years ago, encouraging people not so much to pray for themselves, but for others, and for whatever God wants.

God knows our needs before we can even name them.

God wants the best for us.

I can best be my true self when I unite myself to the will of God for me.

I do not need to convince God of my needs. I do not need to ‘bribe God’ in any way.

However, I do need the strength to unite myself with the will of God in my life. Asking for strength and perseverance to be able to tune in to God is good prayer. Asking for the strength to actually do what God is asking me to do is also good prayer.

Of course, I also need to feel free to express to God whatever is in my heart, and to do this as I freely need to. After all, God loves me more than any human lover. Lovers listen to whatever is in the heart of the other.

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