Last time I wrote about the “restraining hand”  that governments and citizens are both subject to in public life; that is, the restraining hand of universal moral law.   If it’s not there,  the power of government increases until there is only the law of barbarism – “might makes right,” and our Rulers can command us, now, even to violate our faith and our consciences.   Barbarism in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm.


Today I pay homage to a restraining hand in my own life.   It is the feast day of St. Francis de Borgia, a saint who teaches, commands, and governs by the example of his personal and public life.

St Francis Borgia, sttingBorn to a distinguished noble family in Spain, Francis was a good man, intelligent, self-disciplined, well-educated, devout, and highly esteemed for his honesty and devotion to duty.   He danced and sang and wrote music and loved poetry and sports competitions.      I can identify with this man!

Through it all he endeavored to serve Christ well.  He was severe on himself in prayer and penance and aiding the poor and the unemployed in his region. Those who owned land and large estates governed their own households well, keeping in mind the welfare of their descendants, but they were also obliged – by Christian duty – to care for those nearby who were without material advantage.

The people loved him and trusted him.

Queen Isabella bl wh

This was the 16th century.  Ferdinand and Isabella were king and queen.     When the beloved and beautiful Queen Isabella died, the royal family gave to Francis the sad and solemn honor of accompanying her body to Grenada, to the royal burial place.   The purpose was to guard the body and assure that it is she who is really being buried.

Imagine this.   It’s sunny Spain.   A journey of many days for the dead body.   And then – Francis had the “honor”  of looking into the coffin and verifying that it is the body of the queen.

At Grenada, no one could even enter the room where the coffin was placed.   The odor of physical decay was overpowering and sickening.  But Francis had to do his duty.

He approached.  He opened.  He peeked.  But he couldn’t identify the horrifying mess that was the face of his queen.   He verified only on his honor that he had never stopped guarding the coffin.

And he was changed.   “Nunca mas!”  he said.  “Nunca mas servir a senor que se me pueda morir!”

The horrifying realization that gave rise to this exclamation makes me shudder, deep down, where I understand this;  I understand this turning away from “serving a master which leads only to  death.”

From then on,  more single-mindedly, more fervently, he intensified the care of his own soul.   The things of this world, the things that matter here, all end in death and horrifying putrefaction.   All things here…come to this end.

I hear his words:  Nunca mas!  (No more!  Never again!)    Deep down,  where I understand this,  I know it’s time for me to “grow up”  and get serious about serving the Master who offers everlasting Life and Beauty and Health and Joy.

Francis is an acknowledged saint now.   He served his Lord Jesus Christ who died for us all to give us Life and so that death and decay will not be our final end.

Francis served Our Lord  with a joyful, but sober and vigorous devotion.

It is his example which keeps pulling me back to the Path of Life.   His words remind me to act wisely.   He is a “heavy hand” on my shoulder, sometimes,  but i am grateful because  that which remains of him, proves that the lesson he learned is a real one:


Thank you to a kind Christian friend who gave me this tangible piece of St. Francis’s life, a relic from something he doesn’t need anymore,  a third order relic, in the tiny little circle, which speaks to me as soberly as “Nunca mas!”




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  1. […] then I feel that “heavy hand” of St. Francis de Borgia on my shoulder –  Nunca Mas! –  and I remember I was still “me”  through all the history I’ve seen, just as […]

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