The say that saints are hard to live with, and while that is certainly not true of them all by any means, it probably has more than a grain of truth about the saint we celebrate today. St. Peter Damian was born in 1007 in the lovely Italian town of Ravenna, renowned for its mosaics dating back to the fourth century. The young Peter was left an orphan and his rather harsh treatment at the hands of his brother probably helped form him into the stern, strict rather harsh individual he could sometimes appear.
He became a hermit but was far from being cut off from the life of the church or the world. He was a great supporter of the reforms that many were then urging on the church. The title of his book, The Gomorrah, book about the errors and moral lapses of the clergy sums up his understanding of the urgent need for the church, and especially its clerics, to change and reform.
The church needs reform in every age. In our own time Pope Francis has far more gently reminded the clergy that they ‘need to smell more like the sheep’. But that change of heart is for us all. If we are to be light to the world and salt of the earth we need to look at where we are being less than authentic, where our words and actions do not go together. May St Peter Damian pray for us.