Archive: Letters of St. Gaspar

October 25, 2007

St. Gaspar on the Priesthood

The Priesthood, perfection as depicted in the fragrant cedars of Lebanon, all are the cause of a robust holiness and the inestimable qualities of the Priesthood. "As a first point, there are basically two things that the Almighty requires in his sacred ministers...the light of sanctity and the salt of doctrine. Vos estis lux mundi, vos estis Sal terrae (1). Above all, good example of life and along with it preparation for the ministry must be the bases for the special delights of anyone dedicated to the Sanctuary. To each one, the Apostle says: Attende tibi, attende lectioni, exhortationi, et doctrinae, noli negligere gratiam quae est in te(2). And oh! Quam pulchra est casta generatio cum claritate!(3) How beautiful are those souls that are mystically generated with a singular clarity of holiness; the brilliance of their virtue removes them from the darkness, the fogginess of vice and of sin. Hence purity of life, as figured in the candor of the lily, tenderness of love as symbolized in the red rose, tireless search of ecclesiastical."

"The sanctuary is the place of an exalted holiness. It seeks inhabitants who will emulate what is heavenly. Required is a detachment from everything and from everyone; a deep humility, a suffering longanimity, a tireless desire to cultivate one's talents in order to perfect them and direct them for the welfare of the Church and the advantage of the faithful."

Dominus pars hereditatis meae(4). As a creature, as a Christian and most of all as a priest and missionary, I should be entirely God's, with all my soul and body, with mind, with heart and with my actions. So, no other thought than the thought of God and his glory; no other love than the love of God and my neighbor, procuring the salvation of souls, the conversion of sinners, the sanctification of people. Spare no labor in seeing that God is honored and loved, relating everything to him. I wish for myself only the scorn of the people of the world etc. Am I really what I am supposed to be? Are the qualities of an apostolic person found in me? For whom have I labored up to now? Oh! Those labors that were thus lost, like a treasure tossed into the depths of the ocean, if the Lord is not content with me! "I must seek the glory of God by procuring the salvation of souls. I am in a Congregation, in an Institute which is regulated, directed by obedience. Hence, this is what I set down for myself: to serve God, to work for his glory in that office, in that place, with those people that obedience will assign to me. Thus I will remain quiet and peaceful, certain that I will be doing the will of God. Can that be done?


NOTES
(1) You are the light of the world, You are the salt of the earth.
(2) 1 Timothy 4:13, Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have.
(3) How beautiful are those souls that are mystically generated with a singular clarity, see Wisdom 4:1
(4) The LORD is my inheritance, Psalm 16:5

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October 21, 2007

From St. Gaspar

"(Reform) Weapons for gaining heaven"
Prayer
Humility
Confidence

"Reminders"
The Crucifix
The tree of life
Seat of truth
Mirrors of Sanctity

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June 30, 2007

Blood, Sacred Blood

Blessings to all on the Solemnity of the Most Precious Blood.(July 1st) In a world where little is precious or sacred, maybe it is time to reflect on the true freedom given to us in the Most Precious Blood. The following is an old article of mine, basically my homage to St. Gaspar's letter 57. I post it here to move it from my old blog and to make it available for any new readers.

Blood is not pleasant to think about sometimes. Some become squeamish. At the same time, blood has a central place in some of our violent movies and other entertainment. There we do not pay attention to it. It is not real in the movies. Still, spend a few moments thinking about blood, your blood. Stop. Take your pulse. Blood is central. It is powerful. Its action, its force, what it carries, gives us life. It moves faster, we move faster. It fails, we fail. It is the silent, ever present essence of the power of life.

Our ancestors had a vastly simpler, maybe primitive approach to blood. It was simply where life met death and death met life. Fresh, warm, crimson blood was an offering, a sacrifice, a gift back to God, taking the substance of the life God had given and, giving it back, offering it all. We flinch when the priest passes among us on Easter morning scattering the water of the newly blessed font over the people. Can you imagine what it was like in the desert when inaugurating the covenant Moses took half of the blood of the bulls and splashed it on the people? This was before dry cleaning was even imagined. You were stained. It didn’t come out. It was an enduring mark of life. Life branded you, stained you, claimed you as belonging to a covenant with life itself. It was remarkably more than the privileges of membership, and you can’t leave home without it. This primitive approach developed through time to an elaborate ritual in the holy of holies where the blood of sacrifice was placed in the temple’s inner heart on the mercy seat. Blood was a way to communicate with God, to approach the very limits of life and death and receive in return his life and forgiveness.

St. Gaspar would invite us to this same reflection, but then would ask us to spend a few more moments reflecting on God’s blood, divine blood. His letters indicate it is too little to call this blood significant. Somehow our words do not convey its grandeur. This blood was the flaming outburst, the burning expression, the extravagant generosity, of a God of unreasonable and unimaginable kindness. (1) The human body of the Son of God becomes the holy of holies, and now the blood on the mercy seat is the blood rushing through his precious heart. His death on the cross and the tearing of the veil in the temple indicate that the presence of the divine has been snatched from a temple of stone and placed in the temple of a human heart where it is most defeated, overwhelmed or broken. We may think that God has abandoned us in our struggles; yet, in fact, he is closest to the broken and forsaken. You who once were far off have been made near through the Blood of Christ. (2)

This blood has a voice, a piercing cry. For Gaspar the sound of this blood extinguishes any noise of sin. (3) This voice cries out clearly on behalf of sinners and any who are broken. This voice cries to the heavens when life is lost or blood is shed. This is precisely where a devotion to or spirituality of the Precious Blood identifies us. Reciting a devotion is untruthful if it does not correspond to devoted living, and a spirituality is empty if it is not a way of life. A Spirituality of the Precious Blood drives us to follow that voice, to take it up as our own. St. Gaspar would plunge us into these mysteries, (4)bending to its gentle crushing force that urges us on to a courageous love, first for the ineffable love of God, and in the same beat of the heart, to a love for all people, especially those who are far off. Yes, blood can be messy, but it is sacred too.

NOTES
1. Letter 57
2. Eph. 2:13
3. Letter 52
4. Letter 57

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February 20, 2007

Gaspar and Lent

Judie asks in the comments on the post below if I am going to be posting Gaspar lent reflections this year like in years past. I am thinking of revising my book this year as we journey through Lent.

So, you decide. I will do whatever commenters want. Do you want me to post the reflections each day, or do you just the link to the PDF file of the whole collection?

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August 19, 2006

St. Gaspar's Spiritual Writings

...selections from Volume 1 can be found here.

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August 7, 2006

A Saint Scrutinizes a Saint

This is the most recent addition to the page on the Writings of St. Gaspar. It is the deposition of Venerable Giovanni Merlini at the ordinary process begun at Albano for the Beatification and Canonization of St. Gaspar del Bufalo.

For more on the life of Venerable Merlini, go here.

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August 3, 2006

St. Gaspar As I Knew Him

It is time to pay another visit to the new site of St. Gaspar's Letters.

Thanks to RC I have discovered Open Office and this enormously speeds up the process of retrieving documents, cleaning them up and converting them to PDF.

I have added to the site this morning two depositions that were part of the ordinary process in the Beatification and Canonization of St. Gaspar del Bufalo. Probably the more significant of the two is the Deposition of St. Vincent Pallotti. You may remember that Pallotti was a friend of Gaspar's, was present at his death and was the one who anointed him and gave him Viaticum.

The other deposition is from the helpers of St. Gaspar. The deposition of Vincenzo Severini, Giovanni Menicucci, and Bartolomeo Panzini at the processes for the canonization of St. Gaspar give us a rather human face for our saint by people who were very close to him.

Enjoy!

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July 30, 2006

The Letters of St. Gaspar

All of the Letters of St. Gaspar del Bufalo in English are now available on-line. Today I finished cleaning up the WordPerfect files and converting them to PDF, and uploaded letters 2751 through 3959.

RC tells me that the sidebar can not be amended for a while, so the link to St. Gaspar's letters will have to wait, but I was able to upload a file to that old site to redirect people.

Here, again, is the new site for the Letters and other writings of St. Gaspar del Bufalo.

Again, I wish to pay tribute to my friend, Fr. Ray Cera, C.PP.S. He is to be credited for translating all the letters of St. Gaspar and making them available to an English speaking audience.

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The Life and Times

I recommend for your reading a new book available in English.

The Life and Times of St. Gaspar del Bufalo
by Giorgio Papasogli

I have had the book for a while and have been reading short sections of it between other books. For my vacation I intend to read it all again, straight through.

Also during my vacation, I intend to put the whole thing on-line. You can find my first efforts here.

The one thing I find beneficial is is all the background material about the politics and the economy and the social life in the late 18th and early 19th century, a time that contributed to the formation of St. Gaspar. There was a passage I read this morning, that taken out of the violent context that was France and Italy of the time, could actually be used to describe the day in which you and I live.

The little boy Gaspar and his group of friends heard these stories and at night, with their eyes open, they thought and continued to think of these incredible tragedies. One thing was clear in these little minds: the most populous nation had murdered God and invited other nations to do the same. This is what these little infantile souls felt.

In reality there were all kinds of thing about this tragic conflict which, apparently developed among men, but actually it was something between heaven and earth. There are enemies of God, but there are also heroes of God. There are vacillating souls, there are souls solidly believing in the death of God; there are apostles, there are weak ones, there are cowards, there are the indifferent ... Each life, each soul is implicated and is graded according to the strength with which it reacts.

But the external values provoke, as in this case, a taking of an interior position. Resistence, in order to be sustained, has to be superhuman.

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July 1, 2006

Letter 57

April 14, 1813
Countess Lucrezia Ginnasi
Imola

The grace and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ be always with us. Amen.

Esteemed Countess
I begin this letter at a time when the Church directs our attention to a most serious reflection on the august mysteries of our Redemption, Wednesday of Holy Week, (1) and she urges us to make fervent acts of love for Jesus, our total Good. Oh how our loving Mother Church, completely solicitous for us her children, compassionately makes every effort to etch into our souls this great truth which summarizes all the others: that is to say, that all of us belong to Jesus since he gave himself entirely to us! To speak of any other topics during these holy days would be an estrangement from those memories which are most efficacious in awakening in our hearts the most vivid sentiments of holy love, disposing us for the possession of that homeland which alone can make us completely happy.

Therefore, let us enter in spirit the sweetest Heart of Jesus, the burning furnace of love for mankind and, therein, let us briefly remind ourselves of all the aspects of that mystical fire, so that we can offer ourselves with completeness and greater perfection to the exercise of the Christian virtues, living for God alone.Ignem veni mittere in terram, et quid volo, nisi ut accendatur?(2) Prayer: "Sweet Heart of my Jesus, make me love you evermore.

There is no human language nor any sufficient number of volumes that can worthily describe all of the acts of love by which we have been enriched in our crucified Redeemer! Just to repeat one or the other would require the fervor of those fortunate souls who, like the eagle, freely soared upward from all the things of this miserable world to enjoy the delights of the nectar of Paradise. Certainly they, in some way, will be able to convince us of this delightful theme, but then, what can I do, a miserable sinner, whose heart, through my own fault, is colder than a stone and who does not know how to return love to the one who has loved me so much? Oh divine Holy Spirit, please help me so that I can, at least in a small way, give expression to those sentiments which are apt for arousing and moving us (3) to this holy exercise of love.

Oh soul, redeemed by the most precious Blood of Jesus the Redeemer, at this point, lift up your thoughts and realize that this ineffable benefit and august mystery, together with the Incarnation of the Son of God, was a flaming outburst of love: exinanivit semetipsum formam servi acciplens. (4) His submission to so many pains and trials was a flaming outburst of love, finally expiring in a sea of sorrows and on the infamous scaffold of Calvary. It was a flaming outburst of love to leave himself entirely in the Eucharistic banquet. It was a flaming outburst of love for him to find his delight in us miserable creatures: deliciae meae cum filiis hominum, (5)and that burning wish of his for our eternal salvation in the beloved homeland of heaven.

Oh soul, plunge yourself deeply into these moving thoughts and you cannot help but repeat with the Apostle: Caritas Christi urget nos! (6) It is not so much what Jesus suffered as it is the love that he demonstrated in his suffering for us that obliges us and even forces us to love him in return. Let us listen to what St. Francis de Sales says in this regard: "Knowing that Jesus, true God, has loved us to the point of suffering death for us, even death on a cross, is this not the same as having our hearts put under a winepress and feeling its crushing force, squeezing out love with a violence that is as gentle and loving as it is forceful?" Then he adds: "So then why do we not cast ourselves onto Jesus Crucified, to die on the Cross with him who was willing to die out of love for us? We ought to say: I shall cling to him and I shall never abandon him; I will die with him and I shall burn in the flames of his love. One and the same flame will consume this divine Creator and his miserable creature. My Jesus gives all to me and I give my all to him. I shall live and lie on his breast; neither death nor life will ever separate me from him. Oh eternal love, my soul seeks you and chooses you for all eternity. Come, Holy Spirit, inflame our hearts with your love. To love or to die; to die to every other love so as to live in the love of Jesus. Oh Savior of our souls, allow us to chant forever: Hail to Jesus; love Jesus; hail to Jesus whom I love; I love Jesus who lives forever and ever."

This love (says the Ven. John of Avila) is the kind that makes good souls go beyond themselves and leaves them in a state of amazement when they come to realize it. Then, a feeling of interior burning arises, a desire for martyrdom, a happiness in suffering, an enjoyment of those things that the world fears, and an embracing of those things that the world abhors. St. Ambrose says that the soul that is wedded to Jesus Christ on the Cross considers nothing more glorious than to bear in itself the marks of the Crucified. Oh how, my beloved, can I repay you for your love? He is deserving to have a compensation of blood for blood. See, here I am tinted with that blood and nailed to that Cross! Oh holy Cross, receive me unto thyself. Oh crown, loosen thyself so that I can place my head therein. Oh nails, release those innocent hands of my Lord and pierce my heart with compassion and love. ... Oh my most loving Lord, intoxicate our hearts with this wine, burn them with this flame, wound them with the arrows of your love.

Now, as a comfort to one who lives a moderated life it is necessary to be warned about a strong temptation by Lucifer who seeks to represent to us as a very defective thing something that, in reality, is only an effect of that divine love which dwells in the just. Let me explain. From the time that a soul surrenders itself sincerely to divine service and seeks to please its Beloved, it yearns for nothing else than a greater fervor, a greater holiness, a greater perfection. Then, the devil, with respect to this most holy desire which must be regulated in a practical way in keeping with the will of God, finds a way of causing it anguish, assailing it and making it fall (if he can succeed in this) into such a state of dejection that he does not allow it to find a moment of peace, either because of sins committed in the past or because of an excessive fear of falling into new sins, etc., and thus making every effort futile. It is impossible (the tempter of the soul keeps saying as he tries to reduce it to despair) to succeed in an undertaking which would require in you more virtue, more merits, more fervor. It is impossible for you to make progress in doing good, when, by your sins, you have lost the merits of the grace of the Almighty which are needed. In short, it is impossible to be able to fly without wings. Now, if the soul listens to such deceptive images, then the enemy will continue to question it as follows: Tell me, don't you really know how wretched you are, how deficient, how ungrateful before God? ... In your ingratitude, could you really feel worthy of the gentle kindnesses of his ineffable divine love? Therefore, lay aside any such thoughts, for otherwise you will be marked as a presumptuous and proud individual.

Oh how really subtle is that diabolical deception, for it is covered with a mantle of false humility that causes one to attribute to vice something that is happily produced by the love for God. Hence, let us open our eyes and, in order to elude every infernal deceit, let us etch into our hearts the following words of St. John Chrysostom, since they are most opportune in restoring to ourselves calm and tranquility of spirit: "When the love of God has taken possession of a soul, it produces in it an insatiable desire to act in behalf of the Loved One, so much so that, despite the many and the great acts that it performs for a long period of time spent in his service, all seems to be nothing and it always feels hurt that it does so little for God, and that if it were licit for it to die and be destroyed for him, it would be happy to do so. Thus it is that it always looks upon itself as useless in everything that it does because when love points out to it what God deserves, then in that clear light it sees all the defects of its own actions, bringing on confusion and pain from everything it does and recognizes as poor the deeds that it performs for so great a Lord."

St. Justinian says: "When one truly is making progress, he feels in himself a continuous desire to advance further, and as he grows more in perfection, so much more does the desire increase; for as the light in him continues to grow, it always seems to him that he has no virtue at all and that he is doing nothing good at all, and if he were to see himself doing something good, he gives himself no credit. Therefore, the situation is that he is continually working for the acquisition of perfection without ever growing tired". Hence, all the consequences of the love of God pointed out up to now are nothing but the products of that very same love. They never tend to render the soul inactive, but rather by their very nature excite it to greater industry and concern to purify itself before God. So, how truly terrifying is the devil when he seeks every imaginable way to impede the progress toward perfection, blocking one=s total dedication to God. Who is it that cannot recognize the iniquity and the origin of a temptation which tends to arrest the spirit in its chosen course of virtue? "A humility that disquiets one", says St. Teresa, "never comes from God but from the devil". In fact, God does not fail to help us in those trials since he is desirous of our love. Fili, praebe mihi cor tuum, ecce cor meum. (7)

Whatever artifice the devil uses in this regard, the soul must courageously remember what that great servant of God, Fr. Segneri, Sr., used to say to oppose the enemy and to achieve a most glorious victory over him: "There are two ways for clearing out a terrain that has become jungle and covered with heavy growth. One is to take an ax and begin cutting down trunk after trunk. The other is to attack it with fire; and this second way is without comparison, not only because it is easier but because it is more useful in the sense that the terrain is made more fertile by the foliage that is burned down. The same thing occurs in our souls. One can pursue the method of exercising various virtues, uprooting vice after vice, but this method demands great labor, lengthy time and results in little fruit. The real method is to attack the heart with a great fire of love for God and this, in a short time, will accomplish what otherwise would require much effort. Furthermore, it not only purges the soul but wondrously makes it productive". So, whatever may be the condition of the soul, it sees in itself its defects, it considers its status, it realizes how unworthy it is of heavenly favors and notes its ungratefulness towards God. Sorrowfully it applies itself to the exercise of that love that has been commanded to us by the words: Diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex corde. (8) It becomes purified and beautiful in the eyes of the Lord and marvelous prerogatives will continually grow within itself. This is the effective way of angering the devil and removing every obstacle to the working of the grace of Jesus who wants us as his own, because no one can serve him and the world, and because there can never be a union between light and darkness, between fire and water, between Christ and Belial.
Fr. Segneri, Jr. used to say that the love of God is a thief that easily despoils us of everything so that we can possess nothing other than God. St. Francis de Sales said that when a house catches fire, people will throw all the furniture out through the windows; when a person gives himself completely to God, he seeks to rid himself of everything that is earthly. In that way, one comes spiritually to the point of dying to anything that one has in this miserable world, thus verifying in ourselves the words: Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur. (9)

Not everyone is called by God to renounce temporal goods voluntarily or by vow: 'but, all must strive affectively for that end by releasing the heart from those annoying shackles and seeking only the faithful fulfillment of the divine will: Deus cordis mei; et pars mea Deus in aeternum. (10) The one who must dwell in the world must imitate Noah's dove, which pure and candid, unlike the raven, returned to the good Patriarch. Speaking apart from the figure, I mean to say that our souls must not depart from the mystic ark of the sweetest heart of Jesus; but, rather, should always remain there with its affective love as the only place where it can find peace and quiet.

With these holy thoughts, fervent souls are sanctified in that state of life in which the Lord has been pleased to place them and, with holy joy, they surrender themselves to be of help to their neighbors, to be of benefit to others and, in short, to carry out whatever is within their competency. In that way, one dwells in the world, to be sure, just like the three young men in the fiery furnace of Babylon, not being harmed at all by the mysterious flames that burn incessantly. Oh if only everyone understood these truths, how much more successfully would we pursue the goal for which we have been created, while recognizing ourselves as pilgrims on this earth and spend the days of our life with interior detachment from whatever is transitory! Dominus pars haereditatis meae et calicis mei, tu es qui restitues haereditatem meam mihi (11) (says the royal Prophet). ... Introduxit me in cellam vinariam, ordinavit in me caritatem. (12) (Cant. 2/4). This wine cellar, St. Teresa writes, is divine love which, when it takes possession of a heart, inebriates it with itself in such a way that it makes it forget everything that is created. A person who is drunk is, as it were, dead in his senses: he does not see nor hear nor speak. That is what happens to a soul that is inebriated with divine love, as it no longer has a sensation for things of this world and does not wish to think of anything else but God, to speak of anything but God, nor do anything else but love and please God.

The Lord said to St. Gertrude, who had asked him what he wished of her: "I wish nothing more from you than a heart devoid of all created things". The prayer of union (St. Teresa writes) it seems to me indeed to be nothing other than a dying as it were to all created things in this world so as to enjoy God alone. What is certain is that the more we turn away from creatures, detaching ourselves for the love of God, the more he will fill us with himself and the more closely united we will be with him. Deus meus et omnia. (13) St. Francis was wont to say: Oh my God, you are my all and my every good! What beautiful words those are: "My God and my all". Thomas a Kempis says that for one who understands this, nothing more need be said; and for one who loves, it is a sweet experience to repeat always: Deus meus et omnia. The aforementioned St. Francis de Sales would say: "If I ever came to discover in my heart a single fiber that was not God's, I would want to tear it out immediately".

Let us conclude then: we must be altogether God's, just as he gave himself entirely for us. "Oh how deceived (de Sales says) is the one who bases sanctity on something other than the love of the Lord. Some base sanctity (the Saint writes) on austerities, others on almsgiving, others on prayer, others on frequenting the sacraments. As for me, I know of no other perfection than that of loving God with all my heart. For, all the other virtues, without love, are only a pile of stones. If we do not enjoy perfectly this holy love, the defect lies in us since we fail to give ourselves entirely to God."

Here is how St. John of the Cross speaks allegorically on this subject: "It makes little difference whether a bird is bound with a heavy cord or with a very thin one; the bird will always remain bound and never be able to fly away". Let us apply these reflections to our own situations and let us reach the goal that we hope for.

Finally, the means for attaining perfect love are the following, taught to us by the angelic Doctor, St. Thomas: First, to have a continuous remembrance of the general and particular benefits received. Second, to think of the infinite goodness of God which is always ready to do good to us, to always love us, and to seek our love. Third, to diligently avoid even the least thing that is displeasing to him. Fourth, to renounce all earthly goods (not having an inordinate attachment to them). Fr. Taulero adds still another great means to the attainment of a perfect love of Jesus Christ, namely, meditation on his holy Passion.

So, Countess, let us continue spiritually to live always in the holy union of love at the foot of the Cross; there, reciprocally, let us implore divine mercy. Let us be concerned about our eternal salvation. Reflect often on the great desire that the Savior has to see that everyone is saved. Remove from your heart every worry and harmful fear. Serve the Almighty with joy of spirit, which I heartily urge you to do. Do not doubt that you will gain the incorruptible crown. Have a special remembrance of me, a miserable sinner who, by reason of the priesthood to which God has called me, stand in need of much spiritual help to faithfully correspond to it. Without adding anything further, I am
Your humble servant

P. S. You must be patient if these letters of mine do not arrive with regularity on the set days that we agreed upon, since it is necessary for us to adapt ourselves to the present circumstances. But, be absolutely convinced of my very deep and solid concern for this undertaking (even though I recognize what a weak instrument I am, ignorant and good for nothing). In practice, you will see how you will make progress prudently in working for the greater glory of God. Whenever I have a page to send to you, I will include it with the ones I send to Monsignor Annibale and, in that way, our letter correspondence will be kept known only to the Lord. Be happy, very happy, and again be assured that I am

Your humble servant


NOTES
(1) In 1813, Wednesday of Holy Week fell on April 14th. Therefore, we have assigned that date to this letter.
(2) I have come to cast fire on the earth, and what do I wish but that it be blazing?
(3) Some words were scratched out here.
(4) He emptied himself taking the form of a slave.
(5) My delights are with the children of men.
(6) The love of Christ urges us.
(7) Son, offer me your heart, behold my heart.
(8) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.
(9) Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.
(10) God of my heart, and God is my part for eternity.
(11) The Lord is part of my inheritance and of my chalice; you it is who will restore my inheritance to me.
(12) He brought me into the wine cellar, and his intention toward me was love.
(13) My God and all.

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April 29, 2006

Gaspar on Catherine

From letter 2140, to Pope Gregory XVI, March, 1831

Finally, adding just a few more things in this preface, it is to be noted that in carrying out these apostolic works of the ministry, we seek to give a cult of compensation to the mysteries of our redemption, so greatly abused by sinners. We wish to awaken in their souls the great idea of the inestimable price of our eternal salvation. ... You have redeemed with blood. ... you were bought at a great price.. Those who have gone astray are encouraged to have hope for the pardon of the faults that they have committed, Christ loved us and washed us in his blood. ... what usefulness in my blood? and, finally, this is an opportunity for helping them take notice of the motives which caused a St. Bernard (Ep. 7) to exclaim: The blood of Christ calls out like a trumpet and a St. Thomas (Opusc. 158) to say: The blood of Christ is the key of paradise. St. Catherine of Siena, during the schism of her time, received the inspiration from the Lord that on this devotion depended peace within the Church.

From Letter 2193, July 28, 1831, to Mother Maria Nazzarena De Castris

From your letter I note that holy love of God is calling your soul to a special testing of your virtue. So, you must call to mind the sufferings of St. Catherine of Siena and the response that she received from the Lord. Courage "I am with him in tribulation." all of the anguish of your soul lies in the imagination; however, your heart is under the press of, suffering, and God sees what suffering there is because of your fear of offending God. But, one does not lose God without knowing it. That is, as you know, how St. Teresa put it. Suffering, then, is a sign that God is mindful of us, and there can be no more terrible temptation than that of thinking that we have been abandoned. While you are drinking that chalice of suffering, the devil would love to profit from it for himself; but, They conquered the dragon because of the blood of the Lamb.

Letter 3617, to Geltrude Crvciani

I must tell you that you should enkindle evermore your devotion to most holy Mary and never be fearful of the different surprises that the tempter may offer. Serve the Lord with joyfulness of spirit and may the Crucifix be our great book of learning. I offer you, therefore, three most useful things to be remembered and practiced in a holy fashion; they are the ones given by St. Catherine: "Keep eternity in mind; keep God in your heart; keep the world under your feet". With these maxims in mind, always regulate your actions and rid yourself of every bothersome thought that might upset you.

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March 20, 2006

For the Feast of St. Joseph

"But how is Jesus to be imitated? Look at him for just a short while. As an example to us, he is obedient to Joseph and to Mary and lives in the humblest of homes. He is employed in manual labor, shows himself to be a model of silence and is withdrawn from the world, a benefactor to all." …Seek, then, to be of service to the Society and respect the will of the Creator in his creatures. No task is menial if it tends to glorify the Almighty. On the contrary, your work is similar to that of Jesus Christ who aided his foster father, St. Joseph. Purity of intention alone is necessary for you to properly regulate your interior and exterior actions. Realize, too, that a hidden and humble life is a special shield against vanity and human glory."

From the Third Circular Letter

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March 18, 2006

The Letters of St. Gaspar

One of the things I want to do this Lent is to return to making the Letters of St. Gaspar del Bufalo available on the internet for study and research. I am more than half finished and there are other documents and letters that can be uploaded after that.

Since St. Gaspar wrote many letters of Spiritual Direction there are many gems among the letters. Of course many of the letters are administrative in nature and only interesting from a historical perspective. It can be a bit boring to hear him speaking of sending books here or there, opening missions, sending stipends, or selling this or that. But occasionally there is a gem to be found among the administrative details.

One such gem was found in Letter 2598 written September 20, 1833 to Mother Maria Nazzarena De Castris:

You should remain calm, very, very calm concerning the past as well as your present status. Think no more about something that ought no longer to be remembered. God wishes to have acts of love. So, let us strive to love the one who loves us so very much. May the Heart of Jesus be the center of our lives, our mystical cell, our ark of refuge. If Jesus puts himself out in search of sinners, can you imagine that he would not seek and love the person who is faithful to him?

I find this helpful because I often encounter people in the confessional who are confessing again past sins that they have previously confessed, but about which they are still feeling some guilt.

The new letters uploaded today can be found here:

Letters 2501-2550
Letters 2551-2600
Letters 2601-2650
Letters 2651-2700
Letters 2701-2750

All of the letters can be found here.

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March 11, 2006

St. Gaspar speaks about the Cross

The Holy Cross is the mystical ladder to heaven, the cathedral of truth, the tree of life, under whose shadow we are to find rest in the peacefulness of the just.

Oh what a great book for us is the Cross! It is a summarization of the apologetics of our faith, a practical knowledge for our moral life, and the most tender lessons of love that the Lord has shown. From this book, every soul is encouraged to promote evermore the most important devotion to the Divine Blood, which I highly recommend to your zeal and charity, so that it will become known wherever possible.

Let us joyfully carry the cross that God gives us: "I exceeding abound with joy in all our tribulation.? (1)

Do not think about the past; be at peace, very much at peace and even more so with regard to the present which promises further and more ample blessings. If suffering is a grace, which it truly is, this is a sign of those more mature merits for which God is disposing us.

Our lives, more or less, are like winter. In the springtime one sees the work that the winter has produced in the depths of the earth. Be courageous. These are the fruits that arise from the plant of the cross. Let us apply this image of winter to our souls.

Never lose hold of a sweet confidence in God: never lose serenity of mind in God. To pray, for example, for more suffering is not, in my judgment, something called for at the present time. Let us willingly suffer whatever God wishes. Let us repeat often: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".(2) We are to do the will of God as it is done in heaven. So, make distant those feelings of anguish, I repeat, those fears, those perplexities. “Why art thou sad, O my soul?" (3)

Let us enjoy the peace which God grants to us and in his divine Heart let us find that feeling of calmness even in all the storms that surround us. (4)

NOTES
(1)2 Cor. 7:4
(2)The Lord’s prayer
(3)Psalms 41:6
(4)from letters 1929 and 2648

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March 7, 2006

Why am I here?

God draws straight with crooked lines. That really should be the title of my life story. There have been so many twists and turns in my life that it is enough to say that I am sticking around to see what is next.

It has been eight months since the demise of the province to which I belonged and in which I made my life long commitment. Many times since then I have asked the question, “why am I here?? or “why do I stay??

The answer is simply this: St. Gaspar del Bufalo.

There is a picture that Thomas Merton took of an old farm hook. There it hangs from the sky, with nothing around it. In the photograph you do not see the source or the origin of the hook. It is just there. The only other thing visible in the picture is the distant farm land. He titled the picture, “The only known photograph of God.?

Yep, I am hooked. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of everlasting life.?

I am completely captured by the substance of Precious Blood Devotion. (Sorry, I can never again use the term “spirituality.?) The Gasparian charism is indeed a gift for our time. It is still largely hidden, and I struggle with finding ways to make it explicit. Yet, that struggle has borne fruit and I have seen it do miracles.

The present desert is made pleasant by the coming of Lent. Last Sunday’s gospel of the First Sunday of Lent (B) made it clear that deserts are not to be avoided. As we saw Jesus emerge from the desert struggle not defeated by the struggle but charged with the kingdom of God, we can pray that the same be true of us.

The following is an edited selection form Gaspar’s Eleventh Circular letter. It was read at my incorporation into the CPPS community nearly sixteen years ago. It asks the question “Why have you come here.? And, of course, St Gaspar does a pretty good job of answering the question.

I suggest three things in particular for our consideration during these days.

First, that we examine ourselves in the light of the question which the Mellifluous Doctor was accustomed to ask his monks: Why have you come here? (St. Bernard.) For what purpose are we in the Society? To cooperate with the great designs of divine Providence in the sanctification of ourselves and others; to be united in the bond of charity… and to imitate more closely the life of Jesus Christ....
I am in the Society to look after the life of my soul, to offer myself for the glory of God with a holy abandonment in God himself, and to train myself in humility and obedience, all this with the purpose of knowing better his divine Will by being completely reliant upon him as I should.

The second point about which we must examine ourselves is the love that we are to show towards our Society and towards one another. We should always act according to the spirit of the Lord. … We should act in such a manner that we, too, might have stamped upon our hearts the saying of the great St. Francis Xavier: May my right hand be forgotten if I should forget you… (Cf. Ps 136 (137):5.) In this matter, may our love be very, very special. Let it be generous and outgoing, patient and longsuffering, judicious and vigorous.


…May God grant that in the case of our Society the words following may be verified: The blossoming vines give out their fragrance.( Song 2:13) …The cultivation of a vineyard requires skill, toil, vigilance and fruitful rain. Likewise, in the cultivation of our communities, we need special graces. These are obtained through prayer, through exerting ourselves in accomplishing good works, in being orderly and in being vigilant to gather the awaited fruit. In a marvelous way, our Prescriptions and our Rule, which cannot be too highly recommended, serve as our support.

Finally, the third point for our meditation is our activity in furthering those objectives which lead towards the glory of the Lord. This we do in seeking to give them permanence through the Associations which our Society promotes, using the means that it designates as well as the practices which it encourages. Here, let the apostle St. Paul speak. In his letters he reveals a very profound ardor for the salvation of souls and their constant perfection. The love of Christ compels us. (2 Cor 5:14) In all our trouble I am filled with consolation and my joy is overflowing.( 2 Cor 7:4)

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St. Gaspar on Prayer


With today's Gospel it seem fitting to recall the tremendous gift prayer is. Gaspar would remind us that we accomplish everything through prayer; it is our anchor and our key to heaven.

"Let us offer prayers and let us become saints." 1820

"The more one prays, the more good can be done." 1821

"Let us develop everything by the use of prayer." 1821

"Prayers, and we shall see what the will of God is." 1823

"I prefer to pray than to speak" 1824

"Let us give life to everything through prayer, fons omium bonorum." 1825

"The fire of love which is acquired through prayer..." 1826

"...for everything comes about through prayer." 1827

"All is to be decided through prayer." 1831

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February 26, 2006

Preparing for Lent

A reader asks:

Will you be having the writings from St.Gasper this Lent? I really thought that was great last year following St.Gasper through his writing's...

My answer:
The Day book of St Gaspar readings for Lent can be found here in pdf format.

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October 26, 2005

and from St. Gaspar on the Priesthood

When we imagine that we have lived completely a life in keeping with the high state of our priesthood, we have scarcely begun. We tremble in the sight of God; yet, without losing confidence, let us be thoroughly moved within ourselves because of the responsibilities imposed upon us, and the sluggishness with which we have, perhaps, fulfilled them. In other words, When a man finishes, he is only beginning. (Sir 18:6)

This exhortation anticipates every possibility, precludes every evasion. The times are critical, the conditions are pitiful. Therefore, with even more reason should you pledge yourselves to become the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Be brave under trials; make the preaching of the Good News your life's work, in thoroughgoing service. (2 Tm 4:5)

Lastly, recall also the text: If anyone serves me, my Father will honor him. (Jn 12:26) So, let us be resolved not only to walk, but to run along the way of the apostolate. God has called us to this. Let us pray for one another, that in holy concord and unity of spirit, strongly united in bond of peace(Eph 4:3) in the heart of Jesus Christ Crucified, we may be able to reach our blessed goal of Paradise laden with palms of victory. Amen.

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July 17, 2005

Letters 2251-2500

250 more letters from St. Gaspar del Bufalo are now available on-line.

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June 24, 2005

St. Gaspar's Letters

Letters 2001-2250 are now available online. It has been more than a year since I last uploaded them and it is a project I would like to finish so I can move on to other things. I have about 1750 letters to go.

Some of Gaspar's letters refer to the mundane items of regular eccesiastical life in the 19th century. There are, however, some gems of spiritual direction in them that are tremendously valuable.

Enjoy!

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January 24, 2005

St. Francis de Sales

AS found in the letters of St. Gaspar:

St. Francis de Sales used to say that Paradise is a mountain (I will never tire of repeating it to all) which one scales more easily with broken legs than with whole ones. Happily through many tribulations let us hope to reach the goal of our desires. That same Saint, if I remember correctly, does not indeed want extraordinary spiritual attachments, since sanctification, the Apostle says, consists in doing the divine will: O Christians, the will of God is your sanctification. That spirit is acquired by reading S. Scripture which must be a priest's garden, as St. Charles Borromeo used to observe, and in the words of St. Augustine, it is the letter written by the Omnipotent to his creatures.( letter13, 1811)

To the nun, St. Jane de Chantal, afflicted for 41 years with terrible interior seizures of temptation, of fears of being in God's disfavor, and even of being abandoned by God, de Sales wrote as follows: "You must serve your Savior only with love for his will, with the privation of any consolation, and with a deluge of sadness and fears". He also wrote of her that her heart was like a deaf musician who, no matter how beautifully a thing was sung, that musician was unable to derive any delight. (letter 51, 1813)

St. Francis de Sales, in one of his letters, writes as follows: "Finally, it is always necessary to have courage, and if one were to experience a languid spirit, let us rush to the foot of the Cross, and let us immerse ourselves within those holy odors, those celestial perfumes, and without doubt we will be comforted". Elsewhere, in a letter to a lady, he says. "My daughter, nourish your soul on the spirit of cordial confidence in God; and, to the measure that you see yourself submerged in imperfections and miseries, raise up the more your courage to be hopeful ... preserve a spirit of holy joy. St. Francis de Sales concludes: "It is necessary for humility to be courageous and valiant in the trust that one must have in the goodness of God". (letter 52, 1813)

Let us listen to what St. Francis de Sales says in this regard: "Knowing that Jesus, true God, has loved us to the point of suffering death for us, even death on a cross, is this not the same as having our hearts put under a winepress and feeling its crushing force, squeezing out love with a violence that is as gentle and loving as it is forceful?" Then he adds: "So then why do we not cast ourselves onto Jesus Crucified, to die on the Cross with him who was willing to die out of love for us? We ought to say: I shall cling to him and I shall never abandon him; I will die with him and I shall burn in the flames of his love. One and the same flame will consume this divine Creator and his miserable creature. My Jesus gives all to me and I give my all to him. I shall live and lie on his breast; neither death nor life will ever separate me from him. Oh eternal love, my soul seeks you and chooses you for all eternity. Come, Holy Spirit, inflame our hearts with your love. To love or to die; to die to every other love so as to live in the love of Jesus. Oh Savior of our souls, allow us to chant forever: Hail to Jesus; love Jesus; hail to Jesus whom I love; I love Jesus who lives forever and ever." (letter 57, 1813)

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December 21, 2004

St. Gaspar and the Creche

"I learned that he was devoted to the Holy Christ child and he demonstrated this to me when on the eve of the holy Nativity he would never remain at home but would spend that night either in the Vincentian house in the Montecitorio area or in that of San Silvestro in the Quirinale area. The Vincentians would ordinarily give him an invitation to sing one of the other Masses. He showed a tremendous joy when he was given the gift of a Christmas crib by the nuns of SantUrbino. He had a setting made for it and had them set it up in the room where he slept."

From the deposition of Vincenzo Severini, companion and helper of St. Gaspar

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May 4, 2004

Letters

Letters 1801-2000 are now on-line.

They can be found on the Pacific Province Documents Page

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April 30, 2004

Letters 1751-1800

Letters 1751-1800 are online here.

All the letters can be found here.

Wading through the letters is a wonderful exercise. Many letters deal with some mundane matters but they serve to place this saint here on earth and to see how he dealt with temporal matters. But occasionally you stumble upon a letter of spiritual direction that has some pretty remarkable stuff in it.

The following was part of letter 1772 written in 1828 to Fr. Betti.

Anybody who has ever experienced spiritual dryness can benefit from number 4:

From St. Gaspar Letter 1772:

Let us now proceed to the matter of spiritual direction, etc. Whatever is properly directed toward achieving the good, should never be hampered; otherwise we would never have any principle to guide us.

1) The more general the desires are at this time, so much more are they in keeping with God's Will. You should not limit yourself by saying: "Lord, if it pleases you, I would love to die"; say rather, in casu:1 "Lord, let me live for you; let me die whenever you so will it. I have only one desire: Your Will."

2) I love a humble spirit, yes indeed, but not one that is abject ...; humble, by recognizing that all comes from God; but at the same time, magnanimous with God, by using this ejaculation: quare tristis es anima mea? etc.2

3) The spirit is subdued because it is depressed by an interior hypochondria or melancholy, caused by seeing how everything is in a state of confusion nowadays. But we, O my dearest friend, shall do everything possible, filling out the 24 hour day in our Institute by doing whatever we can; remember that God rewards secundum laborem et non secundum fructum.3

4) When the Office and Mass are said with spiritual dryness, with no human satisfaction resulting from them, offer your suffering to God: we shall not always gather roses from our garden, but at times also myrrh: messui myrrham.4 On one occasion we can offer the gold of burning love, on another occasion the myrrh of special sufferings, accompanied always with the incense of prayer. We must never present ourselves before Jesus with empty hands. At least, let us offer our desire of wanting to love Jesus. Does not the suffering of not loving him arise indeed from the desire of loving him? Come now, let us stand with Jesus, now on Tabor, now in the Garden of Olives. Most of the time, we are on the mount of lovers, that is, Calvary, as De Sales used to refer to it. I want your spirit to be in perfect equilibrium, in such a way that, let me express myself thusly, the exercise of virtue and interior abandonment to God may be effected. Iacta curam tuam Domino et ipse te enutriet..., non dabit in aeternum fluctuationem justo ..., dicite justo quoniam bene ... diligentibus Deum omnia cooperantur in bonum.5

5) With regard to the description of the Society, I repeat, please go ahead and do it. But, begin with something like this: "After having offered prayer, it seems to me ... I describe it for these particular reasons. I beg God that the Lord communicate to us his holy enlightenment": then, keep calm and pray. In airing your opinions hinc inde,6 something which in humans must be done, do not be distressed. Listen, then gently reply: "it seems to me that you have neglected to point out, etc. ..., and I conclude: quod autem placitum est coram Domino fiat.7 In what way do I not understand your spirit? ... Read the directives of Msgr. Albertini, and meditate. I asked you to compose a small summary a short time ago. Do not neglect it, at your convenience. Abound in the love of God, and be mindful of this that omne gaudium existimate, fratres, cum in varias tentationes incideritis, etc. .... Nondum usque ad sanguinem restitimus.8

NOTES
1 In the case.
2 Why is my soul sad, etc.?
3 According to the work, not according to the fruit.
4 I reaped the myrrh.
5 Cast your cares upon the Lord and he will support you ... He will never allow the just to waver ... rightly tell the just that for those who love God, everything works together for good,
6 From here and there.
7 Therefore whatever is pleasing before the Lord, that will happen.
8 Count it all joy, brothers, when you encounter various trials, etc. We have not yet resisted unto blood.

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April 29, 2004

St. Catherine

Link from last year.

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April 28, 2004

More Letters

Letters 1401-1450
Letters 1451-1500
Letters 1501-1550

Let me know if you find any gems in these.

I had some other letters already up, so now I am up to letter 1750, and they can all be found here.

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Letters 1351-1400

Letters 1351-1400 are now on-line

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April 23, 2004

Chronology

A brief chronology of the life of St. Gaspar Del Bufalo

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Letters 1301-1350

Letters 1301-1350 are now on-line.

The rest of the letters are here.

This little gem from letter 1309

Is God with us in this effort or not? Do you suppose that the devil is pleased to see the clergy dedicated to the glories of the Crucified Lord? After all, that is why we are priests, to apply the merits of the Divine Blood. "You have redeemed us, O Lord , in your blood" and also "making for our God a kingdom at priests." Therefore, wishing to bring about the reform, it was necessary to begin this great work, starting with the sanctuary. This is what God wants; then, the rest will follow. Workers are needed everywhere.

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April 22, 2004

Letters 1251-1300

Letters 1251-1300 are now available on-line.

Here are some selection from this set:

Letter 1294 to Sister Maria Saveria di S. Agostino:

Hope in the Lord, says the Prophet, ... act manfully ... Are we not serving a loving God? Look at your own soul and you will see that fear is born from the desire to please God. Love your vocation and never cease yearning to perfect it. So, let us trust in God and strive to serve the Lord moment after moment and never be doubtful of eternal salvation. When contrary temptations arise, always say: "I love and I want to keep loving God". I add nothing further.


And this little tidbit on the arrangement of a mission from letter 1290

1. It is understood that the Mission is to last 15 days.

2. There will be two Missionaries: misit binos; by my calculations I cannot promise more. One will teach catechism and one will do the preaching; have no doubt, it will be handled well. The economical use of time is crucial. Misit binos; let us trust in these words, and especially in the universal Jubilee; at another time, I would make other calculations.

3. The Missionaries' are to have the greatest possible freedom in their place of residence. They will bring along a Brother in service who will assist them and, it is understood, they will lead a religious life iuxta regulas.

4. See that the platform is quite spacious.

5. Ask for the faculty of adding the Collect "pro petitione lacrymarum" to the Mass.

6. At the time of the sermons, all the taverns are to be closed etc. Oh! the good work that will be done. More when we see each other in person. I kiss your hands. With all esteem and respect, I remain, in Jesus Christ Crucified.

The other letters available on-line may be found here.

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April 20, 2004

Letters 1201-1250

I am still slowly, but surely, putting all the letters of St. Gaspar del Bufalo on-line. I prepared letters 1201-1250 this morning.

Letter 1202 has this little gem:

Aridity in prayer is ordained by God so that we might recognize that: Our soul, for you like the earth without water. God sees that our intent is to serve him and love him, so as to enjoy him eternally. He, who has begun the work in us, will bring it to perfection. He who began the work will complete and will confirm it.

Courage, therefore. There will never be a lack of crosses, for we are even crosses to ourselves. Our holy religion, however, is the great balance that shows us how to govern ourselves and make our wills consonant with the supreme will of God.

The Letters of St. Gaspar can be found here. Click on Documents. Letters are in pdf format.

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April 7, 2004

Wednesday of Holy Week

St. Gaspar's Letter to you on Wednesday of Holy Week. You will need an Acrobat Reader. If you do not have one, go here.

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March 18, 2004

St. Joseph

The Readings
2 Sam 7:4 5,12 14,16 , I will be a father to him, and he a son to me, the throne of David will endure forever.

Psalm 89, The Son of David will live forever

Rom 4:13,16 18, 22 , Abraham believed and became the father of many nations.

Matt 1:16, 18 21, 24, Joseph awoke from the dream and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.

St. Gaspar
As for me, I am cheerful, tranquil and content, only because I am doing the will of God. I proclaim that I want to live and die with total abandonment to him. (1)

I adore the will of God (2)

Likewise I would like you to be assured of the will of God in regard to your vocation. Excessive fear causes agitation too, as one can readily imagine. Oh, my beloved friend, why become anxious as long as we are in the hands of God? Is he not a most loving Father? Does he not take care of us? Does he not dispose all things for our own good? He used Moses to humiliate Pharaoh and, in general, infirma eligit, ut fortia quaeque confundat.(3) When we use the 24 hours of the day for God, in the mystical bed of his will, we have done everything. This does not deny, however, the necessity of prayer and faith in God. (4)

"But how is Jesus to be imitated? Look at him for just a short while. As an example to us, he is obedient to Joseph and to Mary and lives in the humblest of homes. He is employed in manual labor, shows himself to be a model of silence and is withdrawn from the world, a benefactor to all." Seek, then, to be of service to the Society and respect the will of the Creator in his creatures. No task is menial if it tends to glorify the Almighty. On the contrary, your work is similar to that of Jesus Christ who aided his foster father, St. Joseph. Purity of intention alone is necessary for you to properly regulate your interior and exterior actions. Realize, too, that a hidden and humble life is a special shield against vanity and human glory.(5)

I give thanks to God for the concern that you nourish in promoting the glories of the Divine Blood and I hope that abundant blessings will be your reward. Our Father Amici is putting the final touches on the little work on St. Joseph to be printed after having gathered together a good number of supporters, the printing will be undertaken. This great saint is the special protector of our death. People are interested in this devotion. (6)

Reflection
St. Joseph was a just man. He was faithful to the laws and customs, the ways of Israel. And yet he was also faithful to dreams, hopes and a vision of what God desires. More than being the patron of the Church, he is the patron of the hidden doing of God's will. In the silence of his sleep, we hear and see nothing. In his dreams he sees everything.

Imagine what his anxious moments must have been like. He desired to do what was right and just, but he also desired to do what was fair for Mary. Gaspar would have us look at our own anxious moments and know that just as Joseph was in the hands of God, so are we. Gaspar would encourage us to seek God's will with the same energy and devotion as Joseph.

Joseph challenges us to love the will of God and to trust the will of God with the same tangible faith. This faith would get us up from our sleep to follow a dream of God's way without fear or anxiousness.

How do I show I love the will of God?
What dreams have I failed to follow?
In what ways could I follow God's will even as it goes against social values of my time?
What makes me anxious?

NOTES
(1) from Letter No. 22 to Countess Virginia Malaspina Carocciolo, June 18, 1811
(2) from letter 873 to Mr Giovanni Franceso Palmucci, April 14, 1824
(3) see 1 Cor 1:27, God chose the weakto shame the strong
(4) from letter 1101 to D. Domenico Silvestri, April 19, 1825
(5) From Third Circular Letter, 1829
(6) Letter 1786, July 31, 1828, Giovanni Francesco Palmucci

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Notes on letter 899

In letter 899, we find this passage:

I would like the Collect, to be added at the Mass, to be the one found at the end of the Missal along with all the other Collect: "pro petitione lacrymarum."(1) Also, after Vesper prayers, we would like to add the Litany of Loreto, and one Our Father in honor of St. Xavier, our protector. This has been our practice in other communities too. Following the manner that you judge to be best, you should direct the closing of all taverns during the time of the preaching so that everyone will be led to a contemplation of God. More when we see each other in person.

Notes
(1) For the request of tears

I find it somewhat affirming that St. Gaspar chose that particular Collect for the opening of a mission. In the new sacramentary there is apparently a new Mass called "For the Gift of Tears." The Bishops used that for their meeting in June of 2002. When I saw the approved translation, I copied it out and put it in my mission file. I found it quite useful for the first two nights when the topic is reconciliation.

Last night one of the seminarians joked that I would be long retired by the time we got a new sacramentary.

Opening Prayer
Almighty and most gentle God, who from a rock made flow
a fountain of living water
for your thirsting people,
draw now from the hardness of our hearts
tears of sorrow
that we may weep for our sins
and, by your continued mercy,
be made ready to accept their pardon.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ

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Entrance for the Holy Mission

It was a nice discovery to come upon letter 900. This being Lent, I am preaching 3 missions. I am really looking forward to the one in Ohio where the first Precious Blood Mission was preached in 1854.

I am sure the entrance to the mission will be much quieter. The sound of my voice will not be heard until Sunday in the Church. Saturday is a Day of Reflection that I will lead for parishionmers who are working on the parish mission team.

Take a look at letter 900 here and se how St. Gaspar describes the mission:

900
No date
Entrance for the Holy Mission

There is no one who does not know that a Mission is one of those extraordinary means of God's providence whereby our most loving Father seeks to call people back to repentance and to a sincere renewal. Such a period of time is referred to as the acceptable time during which the Divine Lord, in a special and most abundant way, pours out upon souls his heavenly blessings. And oh! happy are those people who, animated by these principles, become fully cognizant of its value!

The devil, the ever present enemy of good, does not cease, however, depicting that holy ministry as something exceedingly terrible and repulsive. From the reports given at Missions, one sees how great his efforts are. So, to escape the diabolical lies, one must prepare that first entry for the Mission in such a way that the people should realize that they are always to have their hearts filled with joy, for the merciful acts of the great God will be made manifest. How is it possible not to externalize in the most glorious and, at the same time, most moving way, that internal joy which is the fruit of religion and faith?
For that reason, at the gates of the city, and at the designated time which is set beforehand, the bishop, or his representative, should be there along with the clergy and the various confraternities in their uniforms. Perhaps, too, the Magistrate should participate in the function so that he can further encourage the people to learn just what a Mission means.

With the solemn ringing of the bells at that time, the gospel preachers will meet the people. They will immediately prostrate themselves before the bishop, or his representative, to receive the consignment of souls as the Director of the Mission accepts the Crucifix. after the Missionaries have then asked for a blessing at that moment, the Psalm Laudate pueri Dorninum is intoned and the people are to repeat after each verse: May the name of Jesus and Mary be ever praised, and the procession to the church selected for the Mission will begin. There, after a short adoration of the most Blessed Sacrament and a short prayer, the assistance of the Holy Spirit is invoked and the Veni Creator is sung. The Director of the Mission, having recited the prayer: Deus qui corda Fidelium etc., will then pay a short visit to the relic of the most holy Madonna which has at that time been placed on exposition, so as to entrust to the maternal heart of the most holy Mother, this apostolic ministry. After all this has been done, they proceed to the platform. The Director of the Mission will, in person, announce what will follow after the entrance.

Praised be Jesus, praised be Mary!

Posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. at 9:32 AM | TrackBack

March 11, 2004

For Sunday

Here is the selection for the Handbook for the Third Sunday of Lent, Cycle C. I do believe I have the project finished now.

If you are reading the book, please let me know if there is anything difficult or unclear. Also let me know if there are typos.

Guess what? I sent it off to a publisher today.

Click below for the meditation.

Third Sunday of Lent (C)

The Readings
Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15, Moses and the burning bush
Ps 103, The Lord is kind and merciful.
I Cor 10:1-6, 10-12, They drank from a spiritual rock, and the rock was Christ.
Lk 13:1-9, If you do not repent, you will perish.

St. Gaspar
"Oh how few people know how to suffer! A bundle of wood tidily arranged and carefully piled together is carried with ease, while that same amount of wood, arranged haphazardly or loosely tied together here and there, is carried with difficulty, and is pulled along with twice as much pain. The same can be said about Crosses etc."

"A man who has no Crosses - Oh! In how many dangers does he not find himself! What does God do? He permits calumnies etc. etc. The humbled man looks more deeply into his own nothingness etc. In the delight of his courtly life, David sinned etc. But later, with God permitting, Absalom rebelled against him and David then exclaimed: It was good for me to be humbled,? (Psalm 119:71)

"Tell me, oh Christians: does the press harm the grapes? Not really. Even though it crushes the grapes, it nevertheless dissolves them into a very sweet wine. Tell me: does the file harm the metal? Not really. Even though it roughly scrapes it, it makes it shinier. Does fire harm gold? Not really, for even though it burns it and attacks it, it nevertheless cleanses it etc. Look there at that wood destined for the fire; an artist sees it, he is attracted to it, and with his own instruments, he shapes it and converts it into a work that is worthy of admiration. So, if I were to question the wood to see whether it would have been happier etc?. (From St Gaspar, Scritti, Reform 5., Volume 7, No. 13, p. 34-36)

Reflection
Politics can be pretty passionate, and often unreasonable. Often for peaceful purposes we do not discuss politics with people who may disagree with us. You can almost imagine the tone of voice of the partisans who confront Jesus in today?s gospel: ?Did you hear? Wasn?t that awful? What a tragedy! What are you going to do??

Often we hold misconceptions of God as a passionate partisan for whatever cause we hold, as if God is only a God of justice, righteousness and vengeance.

Jesus does not ask them to submit to Pilate. He does not require them to acquiesce to Roman oppression. But he has a deep concern for the people in front of him who will destroy themselves and all around them if they do not look first at their own heart. Evil forces are at work in them, too, Pilate, or no Pilate, they must change or be destroyed by these forces. Often those who fight for a just cause will assume that the struggle for justice will make them righteous. It is not possible to be righteous by pointing out the wrongs in others. For Jesus, that would be avoiding the real issue, the soil of each heart that longs for growth.

The God that is revealed here is not a General that takes sides and established justice through the exercise of power. No, God is revealed as a patient gardener looking for fruit. He is willing to do some hoeing and weeding, willing to provide the nutrients, willing to be patient for the growth. St. Gaspar encourages us to let God till the soil and crush the grapes, and to see in our struggle and crosses the true path to justice and peace.

------ What are we doing to allow the Lord to till the soil of our hearts?
------ What changes to we need to make in our demands of God?
------ What is the growth we are looking forward to in our own life?

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A Lenten Meditation

I offer this excerpt from St. Gaspar's letter 43 for your Lenten meditation today. It is helpful to remember that this letter was written while he was imprisoned by Napoleon. In this letter he give us three means by which we might revive our faith in the presence of God:

This matter of our advancement in perfection surely does not consist in doing great things, but rather in fulfilling the will of the Lord and becoming sanctified along the path through which he is pleased to lead us. So, what is most important to our being successful in this great undertaking is the exact execution of those ordinary and common daily actions which God wants us to do in the state of life in which he, in his loving kindness, has placed us. In my opinion, this constitutes the very essence of a holy and virtuous life. Upon this does advancement in goodness depend; upon this the more copious bestowal of God's blessings. A fortress that is under constant attack needs to be kept well-armed with the necessary means so as to be able to offset the enemy's strength. A soul that is always engaged in warfare against the powers of hell must never be left unguarded, but rather be continually on the defensive so as always to sing the song of victory. Let us pause briefly to consider this idea and, since the necessity for our leading a methodical and virtuous life is very evident, let us now recall those means that are conducive to achieving it with perfection and in concordance with God's good pleasure.

The first of the means suggested by the saints as a most effective way to attain the desired result is to revive our faith in the presence of God. Seneca said that any person who desires to be virtuous and to do things well must imagine that he has before him a person whom he greatly venerates. Perhaps this would be enough for doing things well, but, how much more efficacious would that means be if we walked in the presence of God? Especially is this true since this is not a mere imagining as Seneca asserts but an unshakeable teaching of our faith. And oh what a great consolation it is for us to reflect that no matter where we may be, we are with God. This is the same thing as saying that we are with our one and only Good, with the object of our delights, with the only one who can satisfy our heart's desires. My God and all. The saints, meditating on this, were not able to hold back their tears and, overwhelmed with joy, they never ceased to bless and praise the all-merciful God. So, when dwelling on the words: It is necessary to pray always and not to grow weary, they were wont to say that the person who is engaged in doing good works is one who is praying at all times. St. Augustine, commenting on the words of the Psalmist: All day your praise says: Do you want a way in which you can spend the entire day praising God? Whatever you do, do it well, and you will have praised God. Thus, if a servant makes the effort of showing his master that he is diligent in serving him, in pleasing him, in demonstrating his abilities, this is already a strong plea for greater affection, greater favors, and greater rewards from his master. We follow the same argumentation when speaking of our own spiritual conduct: let us imitate the faithful servant. We must remember that our heavenly master is watching us at all times and knows very well how to reward one who is deserving of it: Those who keep the law multiply prayer. (Eccl 35); A saving sacrifice is to observe the commandments, and to depart from every iniquity. and again, I shall no longer call you servants but friends. The Lord wants us to serve him perfectly, not only because he is present to us as master, but also because he is present to us as friend. He expects from us definite proof of our true love of him. Finally, he is present to us as father and wishes us to love him with filial love: Son, offer me your heart, behold my heart.What a difference there is (generally speaking) in the love of a servant, the love of a friend and the love for one's child. Oh what thoughts are these that re-animate our spirits in such a way that they are to be completely inflamed by the exercise of that beautiful virtue of charity! What an anticipated heaven do we not experience in being intent on working for the greater glory of God. What unspeakable joy! What a calming peace! My God and all ... my eyes always on the Lord.

The second means for doing well the deeds and work of our state in life is to do each thing as though it were the only thing left for us to do. The devil, implacable enemy of our advancement and our eternal salvation, though unsuccessful in getting us to fall into sin, is nevertheless clever enough to get us to be languid in the practice of virtue, supplying us with a thousand different distractions and disturbances. Therefore, let us avoid those diabolical subtleties and deal with our infernal enemy with great courage. Let us always keep etched in our minds that beautiful principle of Fr. Avila. "When a thought suddenly comes to your mind at the wrong time, simply say: My Lord does not order me in any way with regard to this, and so I need not think about it; when my Lord does command it, then I will consider it". In that way, we will remain firm in our decision.

The third means is found in those beautiful words of St. Bernard: In all your work say to yourself: if you were about to die this moment, would you do that? What a great counsellor is the thought of death.

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