Our Lady And The Community
My dear brothers and sisters,The Lord asks us to acknowledge what He has fulfilled. The most important events of the Community’s brief history are all God’s work. As we prepare our selves for the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, I would like to reflect upon how it came about that the Lord gave us two well-known Marian shrines beyond all our expectations and planning. His Eminence Cardinal Piovanelli was the first to ask us the favour of establishing a small family of the Common Life as keepers of the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Graces in the town of San Donato in Poggio. This happened in January 1990. In the same month, Serafino and I went there to take a look at the rooms and other things of the shrine in order to prepare to transfer three of our sisters there. Three elderly nuns wereliving there at the time, nuns who soon thereafter left the shrine and retired in their own convent. As soon as everything was prepared and the house was cleared, our sisters moved in. This was on the first of October, 1990. Our sisters have been keeping the shrine for two years already, to the pleasure of the inhabitants of San Donato, who love “their Madonna”. I often receive appreciative comments on the witness of humble charityand prayer that our sisters living in San Donato give. Scarcely a year had passed and we were ingreat difficulty at the motherhouse of San Sergio because there weren’t enough rooms to accommodate the new vocations that were coming during that period. Then the rector of the shrine of Our Lady of Sasso(in the diocese of Fiesole, near Florence) unexpectedly asked us if we could start a family of our monks in the complex of the shrine. The rector, who was by then anelderly man, desired to secure a future for the shrine, a shrine which is probably the holy site which was most venerated by the people of Florence. It therefore seemed to us that the Lord wished to give us a sign of his love and predilection in a miraculous way, entrusting us to keep these two Marian shrines. On the first of November, 1991, we transferred the novitiate for men to the shrine of Sasso. Protected and defended as we were (and are still now) by Our Lady underneath her gaze of maternal love, we felt that we could not have hoped for more.The Holy Virgin has thus decided to takecare of us. It was she who chose us, she who desired that we live in her house, she who continues to say what she said one day to the servants of the wedding at Cana. We feel particularly moved by her wish of our living in the Shrine of Sasso. It is the only place in Tuscany where she appeared.When she appeared there in the 15 thcentury (between 1484 and 1486), in a dramatic period of the history of Florence, she gave a message to the citizens of Florence which today we find particularly apt and pressing. The message she delivered to the young girl to whom she appeared is addressed to us as well. The message was an exhortation to read and reflect on the Gospel that, in so doing, one might live as her son Jesus taught, as Jesus indeed lived. Today the message of the Virgin Mary is given to us. Perhaps this is thevery reason of being of our Community, that is to say, to love the Word of God and to meditate thereupon. It has been from the outset one of the pillars of our religious life.The Holy Virgin confirms our Scripture-based spiritual journey and commitment. She, moreover, wishes that her message reach, through us, all of her children. Certainly, our presence at San Donato and especially at Sasso is a particularly important, or rather, decisive sign for our religious life. We beseech the Blessed Virgin to make us worthy to carry out her message of love ands ubsequently to bring it to others. We cannot be children of God if we are not children of Mary. We are indeed children of God because we are one with Christ, we are members of His Body. This is what God has willed. But we know Christ, the Son of God, only because it is the Virgin who has led us to Him. We are united to Christ only insofar as He has associated us with and united us to Himself in His Body. We have always loved the feast of the Divine Maternity of Mary more than other feast in her honour. She is a mother to us all because, being mother of God, she is also mother of the Church and of all Christians. How sweet it is to think that we have a Mother who looks after us, who defendsand protects us, who unites us to her Son,who lovingly encourages us to respond to God’s call and to do so ever more humbly and sincerely, who assures us of God’s forgiveness, who vouchsafes our spiritual journey and who will open the gates of Heaven for us.