Thursday, January 20, 2022
Thursday, 20 January

Boundless and limitless love

My Christian calling requires before anything else my commitment to carry out the mission of Jesus and this means that I cannot accept living in a restricted community: “We feel good living together, but let us leave others out”. Or: “we feel comfortable in the Church; but let us throw out others such as Muslims and Communists.” No, the love of God, Christian love knows no limits or borders; it must embrace everything and everyone. 

Spiritual Exercises in Paestum, June 1986

So that God may be all…

God is to you what you want Him to be. If you are self-satisfied, if you think you are worth something, then there is no place for God, because God wants to be everything. 

And if God is to be everything to you, it is necessary that you should be nothing, that you should possess nothing, that you should be nothing so that He may open your heart to receive the gift of His Infinite Love.

Spiritual Exercises of Arliano, June 15th, 1980

Converting to Christianity, through reading Dostoyevsky’s works

I converted to Christianity because  I read Dostoyevsky’s works; and if I hadn’t read them, I would not be a priest today — I say this with all sincerity.  

If it hadn’t been for Dostoyevsky, today I would be a writer, a poet, whatever, but not a priest and perhaps not even a Christian.”

Gathering, Florence 6th of January 1980

The law of love

If we are to live by the law of love, a law which makes nothing foreign to us, it is imperative to bring the life of the whole universe into one’s our own life. Nothing more, nothing less. I cannot accept simply being the “person I am.” I cannot and I will not. 

The whole universe must live and find a voice in me. The whole universe becomes one in me, so far as I am in Christ.

Gathering on October 1st, 1961 held in Florence

Do you love God?

If you want to know whether you love God, whether you are really Christian, ask yourselves: Are you accepting of each other? Are you really able to love one another, without being in opposition or in conflict, without feeling distrustful of one other? 

If you are able to love in this way, then you may be sure that you love God.

Retreat, Syracuse, January 2 1990

My heaven

Just as God cannot deny himself, so God cannot deny to me those in whom and through whom He has revealed Himself to me.

I must love them to the point of saving them; and even their salvation is my heaven.

Diary, 30th August 1970

God waits

God loves you even if you do not respond, but it is not at all true that he does not wait for your response. The love of God does not force you, it remains completely gratuitous, but He waits only insofar as you love.

Would it really be true that He loves you if He did not want your love?

Spiritual Exercises at La Verna, August 3-10, 1980

From the tabernacle to the heart

The heart of man is more sacred than any tabernacle! This is true because the Lord is present in the tabernacle in order to communicate Himself to us, not just to remain there. The Lord is present in the sacred species of the bread in order to communicate Himself. The final term of Christ is my heart, the innermost part of my being.

Paschal Triduum in Desenzano, April, 1988

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.

The Father

One soul and one heart (1958)

Dear Friends,

The Community is still in its infancy; as a Religious Family it has only recently been constituted, and the Lord inspires and moves us more and more, so that the will to live closer to Him may develop in us ever more clearly.

Let us seek not only to love one another, but to be one soul and one heart.

Our unity is the necessary condition of future devel-opment for the Community: if we are less perfectly united, growth and extension of the Community will break it up. Only a unity grounded in Christ, full, total, perfect, can be a guarantee for us the kind of growth which will not destroy our movement. These are the most important years for the future development of our Community. If we are truly united, we shall have nothing to fear from the buffets of misfortune, nor from (what is more dangerous) the favour of men, the too rapid growth and popularity of our family. We must therefore be most absolutely united, and must feel ourselves one; there must be no differences or oppo-sitions amongst us. Divine charity can bring about such unity, so that no external threat can ever cause division between our souls.

But we shall never achieve this unity if egotism remains amongst us. Such unity demands complete freedom from egotism, from the desire to preserve something of our selves inside the Community: a desire that is all the more dangerous in that it concerns spiritual goods: ideas, modes of thinking that prevent us from unifying totally. Each one of us is different, but we will live this unity precisely by contributing to the Community, providing we do so with humility. All gifts are complementary, and so everyone’s contribu-tion is harmless so long as our egotism does not impose our own point of view. According to our egotism, whatever we propose will become an obstacle to the perfect interior unity of the whole family. So we must not only love one another, but we must be one, and love each other in such a way as to keep nothing of ourselves when we give ourselves to the Community. The development of the Community depends on the unity we have established. Numbers and buildings are not important. What is important is that our unity be so unbreakable that nothing can shatter it, so strong that no future growth can weaken it. May it grow like a germ, remaining always the same, ever revealing what it had from the beginning in potential.

I believe that one of our absolute needs is that we should be one. Every religious Congregation has re-cognised its ideal in the primitive Church: one soul and one heart.

We shall never be so until we are one Christ. But if we manage to achieve this unity we need fear nothing: Christ who lives in us guarantees that the Community will live despite all the storms, that it will grow and will have a mission of salvation for many souls, that it will be the visible sign of the presence of God among men.

And we for all eternity shall have nothing to do but thank God and praise Him for having chosen us.

From Fr Barsotti’s circulars – Florence, June 2nd, 1958