Saturday, September 24, 2022

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

Ut sitis filii Patris vestri (1960)

Dear Friends in the Lord,

I am driven to write to you under a powerful im-pression, I believe, of divine inspiration. It seems to me that at last the Lord wants to give us a motto and a programme. From the very beginning of the Commu-nity the Lord has wanted to inspire us with a great love for the Sermon on the Mount, and has given us as our programme the Beatitudes which Jesus preached. From the start St Francis, with his prayer, has lent us his heart and soul in love with God.

Was not this the goal of all our aspirations, our desires, our secret hopes that God gave us from the very moment that He called us? To be the witnesses of God: to reveal His holiness, His infinite purity, to be as it were His presence for men on this earth.

Well, tonight in the depths of my soul the words of Jesus have been echoing: I repeat them for me and for you:


That you may be the children of your Father

These words conclude Jesus’ discourse on the Mount of the Beatitudes; every divine commandment has been given to us only for this: so that we may become and be in truth the Children of God, the children of the Father. To be children is to reveal with our entire life this ineffable mystery of divine love, it is our whole programme, because this is our vocation, which we have received from God: in humility, in peace, in simplicity, in the purity of a life filled with love, to want nothing more than this, to be children of God.

The words of Jesus teach us that humility, peace and purity are the doors into the Kingdom, but the Kingdom is nothing but love. Charity: that is what makes us truly children of the Father: a charity without bounds, living our life only to give, living to sacrifice everything in an ever-increasing forgetfulness of self. If we must, according to Jesus’ commandment, be per-fect even as our heavenly Father is perfect, then we must know that this perfection is nothing but love: a disinterested charity, a humble and pure charity, a charity without limits. We cannot expect charity to distinguish our little Community in the Church of God from the other religious communities, because charity is the badge of all the saints, but this is our vocation, to be saints, to live only for God, or rather to allow Him to live in us His pure and tremendous life.

For this to come about, we must all of us walk the path of humility: to disappear, to be no more, to expect nothing for ourselves, to seek for nothing, to be for-gotten, to be lost in silence. That He should be: only He. We must reveal nothing but Him, must be the con-dition for His presence, must know no other name.

UT SITIS FILII PATRIS VESTRI. May the Lord, who has given us these words as a motto, fulfil them in us, He who is the only-begotten Son of the Father. Let us pray therefore to the Lord, let us never tire of praying for each other, so that He may come into each of us and be Himself the Praise of the Father, the salvation of the world.

Bless you.

From Fr Barsotti’s circulars – Casa San Sergio, October 24th,1960

The greatness of the contemplative vocation (1961)

How grateful I feel today to the Lord for having given me this vocation, and how I feel bound to pro-claim the greatness, the necessity also in the service of others, in service of all mankind, especially of those Christians most taken up with work, most distracted by the occupations and preoccupations of everyday life! For many people our life may seem wasted. And indeed on the natural level it is, because in human terms our desire for silence is incomprehensible and mistaken. We could certainly achieve apparently better results with our ordinary work: living among men, exercising a profession, involving ourselves in a more direct kind of service than our humble praying. One can understand other people’s incomprehension. But to understand it is not to justify it. Is it not the most suitable and the greatest service to give our life for all those whom the cares of living distract from God? Does not the life of all tend towards death? But this is why death becomes more and more a reason for dismay and terror, a reason for scandal and rebellion, because men no longer know how to live for God. They would like to serve God for the sake of their human interests. They would like the religious life to serve only to enrich the few years of their earthly pilgrimage. They live for death, but true life is beyond this life.

This is what we want to teach: power and grandeur do not count; efficiency in work, dignity in ministry do not count; only love of God counts, because love of God alone remains. Men must know that these are not mere words: for this we must waste ourselves away with humility, for this we must accept that the sacrifice of a poor and obscure life is to pass uncomprehended by those for whom we live and whom we teach by example. If we truly believe that we are made for everlasting life, what are the eighty or a hundred years that we spend on this earth compared to the eternity that awaits us? How can we contemplate eternity with-out terror, if up until now we have sought to live in such a way that the loss of anything there is counts for nothing with us?

No. From now on we must become used to living among the emptiness of things in the infinite presence of God. We must in some way anticipate, in poverty and in humility, the joy and peace that await us in the future. If God is nothing for us then our death will take us to hell. Who can fill the emptiness caused by the detachment from creatures, the end of the present world, if we have not learned to know God, if we have not loved Him in this life? We want this: to give men a sense of the reality of the divine world, which is not a future world entirely separate from us. No, we should already carry this world in our hearts, we have already entered this world through the sacrament of baptism, already this world is our most real one.

Our humble life must bear witness so that in poverty the Kingdom of God may become in some way visible to man. By a journey of humility and silence, we must make space in our life for the presence of God.

Hermitage of Fornace, April 26th, 1961