Tuesday, September 17, 2019

God does not save us as individuals

If a religious community is elitist, then it is anti-Christian. If the Community were to become a club and we looked at one another with approval, keeping those who are not part of the Community at a distance, then we would not be living a Christian life. We may be living a spiritual life (spiritual in the human sense of the word, not in the divine sense of the Spirit), it could be a very noble one, but it wouldn’t be a Christian one… 

God does not sanctify, He does not save us as individuals; rather, He will sanctify and save us insofar as we are united in a community, because He loved and still loves a people, and this people is the Church. It is God’s Church that knows and serves Him. Therefore, we may know and serve Him only to the extent that we are part of the Church, only to the extent that we somehow identify with her…

Retreat at Casa S.Sergio, January 17th, 1965

The sense of sin

If you were not aware of your own sins, Jesus would be foreign to you; you would feel self-sufficient.

Insofar as you feel poor, you are rich. Insofar as you feel unworthy, the Lord becomes the One who makes up for what you lack.

Spiritual Exercises, Arliano 15th of June 1980

Infinite Love

It is a wonderful thing that I should remember on this day, the day of my birth, the Infinite Love of God, by which God willed from all eternity that I should come into existence; and by this Infinite Love, God wills that I should live for all eternity; my life may thereby rest on this certainty, and, in this certainty, find peace.

At the conclusion of a Retreat held in Florence on April 25th, 1977

The Sacramental Economy

The religious dispensation in which man lives is still a sacramental economy; if we take away the sign, then we will not be able to penetrate the Mystery of God and our minds will not be able to grasp it. Let us not forget that God, in His inner life, remains a pure mystery. We see God, we know Him and love Him through the sign, the sign through which He reveals Himself to us…

Spiritual Exercises, Ronco di Ghiffa, August, 1958

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

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


Imploring the Spirit that His will may be done (1961)

We are in the octave of Pentecost. The song of thanks and praise is also the song of humble and impassioned supplication: the Spirit who has come down, who has filled the earth, must continue to come; 

we join with the supplicating Church in her joy and the response she receives, and we join with the exultant Church in the prayer she raises. The gift of the Spirit which the Church continually receives, and we receive with her, constantly extends the capacity of creation, of the soul, to receive. Thus the gift creates the desire, and the desire becoming more lively and more pressing, raises a new prayer to receive God. In this living desire which the Holy Spirit has enkindled in our heart, we repeat the words of the liturgy, for our-selves and for all our brethren, for ourselves and the whole Church, for ourselves and all humanity: Veni Sancte Spiritus!

The prayer is both guarantee and promise of the gift. This is our true vocation, the vocation of every Christian: to pray! It is God who is working, it is from Him that we look for all things. Incapable of discern-ing our true good, certainly incapable of grasping it on our own, we can always turn to God for assistance. May He illuminate us and guide us on our path, may He sustain us; by the power of His Spirit, may His holy will be done in us.

Our work must be the work of God Himself; man cannot act without Him, cannot act truly except in as much as he is moved by the divine Spirit, by the same Spirit who brought about the first creation, who brought about the second creation in the Incarnation of the Word, and who will finally bring about the Kingdom of God. Yes, the supreme activity of the Christian is docility to the Holy Spirit, and his ever more impassioned prayer to God is that the Kingdom should come.

In prayer man rises from his stupor and sets off to-wards his destination, but in its living awareness of our radical incapacity to attain that destination, prayer lends man’s action its highest value. What would be the point of all that man can do, if man’s action were not radi-cally prayer, if man’s action were not the anticipation and the prefiguring of what man can expect from God alone? Every action of man that does not end in prayer is for man nothing but the tragic experience of a failure. Life has no justification except by means of death, history has no justification except by means of its end; but the death of man and the end of the world will not lead into the Kingdom of God, unless man’s journey in this life, and man’s journey through history, have been first of all a search for God, a supplication for grace.

God will complete what He has begun. In prayer it is He who lives in you, who is your desire and your hope; this is the God who troubles your inmost parts, who spurs you into action.

We know: the definitive response to man’s prayer will be the end; but, moved interiorly by the power of the Spirit, man passes from prayer to action, lives the reality of prayer in concrete commitment: thus the strength of prayer is measured by the strength of the commitment.

It is God who prays by means of man, and it is God who by means of man replies. In as much as Christian prayer is efficacious, it is identified in some way with the very action of the one who prays. Supplication to the Spirit that He may come, does not excuse the Christian from acting; rather, the gift of the Spirit which the Christian has invoked becomes for him an irresistible force impelling him to action. The duty of the Christian at this moment is extremely grave and urgent: all of Christendom must join together in a humble and lively prayer, an impassioned supplication to the Spirit, in order to live in the Spirit the common labour of a universal renewal.

Pentecost, 1961

There is no incompatibility between our life and our vocation (1964)

Dear Friends,

In this circular letter, I would like to continue what I had begun talking about after the spiritual exercises and to say something about a temptation and danger which threatens the unity of our life.

How often do we separate our consecrated life from our life in the workplace! In our view, perfection must consist in giving witness to a life of prayer, of hu-mility, of peace, virtues which we practice precisely where Divine Providence has appointed for us to live and precisely in the fulfilment of our mission, in the realization of those works which our brothers and sis-ters expect from us. It is precisely in living our life of teaching, of household work, of responsibility in various associations, etc., that we may give witness to an authentic life of prayer, humility, and love. This fact is very obvious and yet we are unable to accept it. We live as if there were some incompatibility between our life and our vocation. This incompatibility is fruit of our will alone, our will which tends to separate what God has joined together.

It is certainly not easy to live a life in which we must bear witness to a real presence of God, while at the same time working and living like everyone else; yet this is precisely what Jesus taught us. Jesus, in order to live His life of union with the Father, did not separate Himself from the human race, He did not try to defend His own private prayer nor reserve personal time for Himself in the silence and recollection of the cloister. On the contrary, he lived with other human beings, he lived the same life they did. In order to live our consecration to God, we need not separate our-selves from our brothers and sisters, we need not live a life which is, if not extraordinary, at least different from that of everyone else. Or put in a better way, in our love for our neighbour (which is inspired and nurtured by God Himself) we must be in solidarity with everyone, we must not distinguish ourselves from others, but rather identify ourselves with them. Our love for God must make us, in an increasingly deeper and more concrete way, equal to our brethren in every sense: equal in our life, work, in the problems of the Community. We believe that everyone can become part of the Community, and we believe that those of the Common Life must not erect a barrier between themselves and other men and women, a barrier which is a kind of escape from the problems, work, and life of others.

If Jesus, in order to live His life as Son of God, as Redeemer of mankind, did not escape the common life of men, then it follows that the common life of men does not hinder, in itself, living the most sublime life of holiness. We are not saying that our occupations, the environment we live in, the responsibilities we have, the difficulties of life all hinder our life of prayer and union with God. If we are not living our vocation, it is so both because we place ourselves outside of reality while waiting for certain conditions of life which God has not promised us and because we do not commit ourselves to respond to God here and now. We must live the grace of the present moment.

In the religion of Israel, man had to wait for the fulfilment of God’s promises, but in the Christian religion, man must receive, in faith, the gift of God Himself. The gift is so great, that it permits and re-quires that one embark on a spiritual journey towards holiness, but this gift does not take me elsewhere, it does not make me wait for something that I do not already have: it immerses me ever more deeply in Christ, it opens my heart more and more so that the capacity of my heart may gradually adapt to the immensity of this gift.

It is in this life of ours that we must receive God and live with Him. Precisely in living today your com-munion with God are you in the position to fulfil His will tomorrow.

There is no preparation for all of this other than prayer; there is no other way of knowing God’s will tomorrow other than that of doing His will today. We are humble and attentive without getting discouraged by problems; we are without anxiousness and without fear.

May God help us carry out this resolution of ours so that we may live the life of prayer to which we are called: with this hope, I pray for and bless you all.

Ember Days of Lent, 1964