5. Letters of St. Gabriel (new)

sgabstudioLetters of SAINT GABRIEL of the Sorrowful Mother

Introduction

THERE is no truer mirror of a man’s life and character than that afforded by his private correspondence; letters written without thought of their being seen by any but his few chosen friends. To these he opens without reserve the inner workings of his mind, his thoughts, his ambitions, his ideas; and shows without being conscious of it his weaknesses and limitations.

The letters of Saint Gabriel are twenty-seven in all. They were of course very far from being written with a view to publication. They were simply the letters written to his family during the few years of his novitiate and student life. But they give us an insight into his beautiful spirit such as no biography can.

We can follow him in his short, brilliant career of holiness from the first sharp pangs of sorrow as he left his worldly life behind to the last lovely letter of praise in honor of his Heavenly Mother before he went to Heaven. All through them there is the humble unconsciousness of his own sanctity and there is the frank boyish style we would expect, and that ardent love of his dear relatives which grace rather perfected than diminished.

The letters, of course, naturally lose greatly in translation, but they retain sufficient of their original charm to make them worthy of publication. It must be remembered that they are the letters of a boy between his nineteenth and twenty-fourth year.

~

Morrovalle
September 21, 1856

My Dearest Father,

The long desired day has come at last. Almighty God had waited for me a very long time, and I, ungrateful that I was, had remained deaf to his call and offended Him by running after the vanities of the world. However, the Infinite Mercy of God has been able to arrange all things sweetly, and today, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, our Protectress and our Mother, I have put on with unutterable joy this holy religious habit and taken the name of Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Up to the present, dear Father. I have not had the least shadow of a difficulty either as regards the religious life or my vocation. Oh, be assured, he whom God calls to the religious life receives a very great favor, a favor that it is impossible to estimate at its real value. What caution, in fact, does it not require to live as a good Christian in the world!

Dear Dad, I ask your pardon for all my acts of disobedience and for all the trouble I have given you. Pardon me if at times I have given away to strangers things belonging to the house, or if I have taken them for myself. I ask pardon also of my brothers and the servant. She will forgive me for having sometimes treated her badly.

My Brothers, I am sure will understand me. They will not think I speak thus through a mistaken and exaggerated sentiment of piety. Everything must be examined in the sight of God with the greatest care, and the things of which I have just spoken are not so small that no account may be taken of them.

Dearest Brothers, be good. Do not vex our poor Father. He does not deserve it. Love one another. Dear Michael, avoid bad companions; they would lead you to eternal ruin. I know myself how many sins they are the cause of, and I begin now to understand the wisdom of the advice that Dad and our superiors used to give us on this subject. Dear Henry and Dear Cencio, be attentive to your studies, and always go together. In a word do what Dad tells you. God and the most Holy Virgin will bless you for it. In giving you these words of advice, I do not intend to read you a lecture. I have more need of it myself than you. I simply wish to fulfil the duties of a good brother to you.

Pray, and get prayers said for me, to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother; for my part I shall not fail, in spite of my unworthiness, to pray for you and for all our dead ones. Accept my best wishes, together with those of my excellent Fathers Master and Vice-Master. Remember me to the Jesuit Fathers, the Fathers of St. Philip Neri and anyone who asks after me.

Begging your blessing, dear Dad.
I remain.
Your affectionate son.

Confrater Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin

~

Morrovalle
October 23, 1856
My Dearest Father,

The peace and joy I feel in this holy house surpass beyond measure all that I experienced in the vain and frivolous amusements of the world. Be quite certain of this, dear Dad, and believe the word of your son who speaks to you from a full heart. I would not exchange one single quarter of an hour spent with the Most Holy Virgin Mary, our Consoler, our Protectress and our Hope, for a year, no, not even several entire years passed in the glitter and enjoyment of the world.

You tell me I ought to write to you twice a month. That is not possible. For it is not the custom here to write so often. But Father Master has assured me that he will give me permission to write if I become unwell, or if I have something particular to tell you. For the rest, do not be uneasy. I am very well, and I shall not fail to write when there is need. Tell my brothers that the reading of certain books that had been lent me has done no good to my soul. Let this be a warning to them.

On the 16th of November we shall celebrate here the Feast of Saint Paul of the Cross. I shall not fail to pray to him, and also to Our Lord and the Most Holy Virgin Mary, for you, for my brothers and for our dear departed ones. I hope you will do the same for me. Tell Cencio and Henry to study well. The holidays are over. Everything comes to an end. Let them devote themselves with all their hearts to their studies, remembering that this is their duty, and that later on they will be happy for having done it.

Your most affectionate son,
Confrater Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin

~

Morrovalle
November 2, 1856

My very dear Cousin, (Peter Possenti)

I was deeply grieved, and so was my father at hearing of the death of your virtuous wife and your newborn daughter. Faith teaches us that we ought to resign ourselves to the will of God who permits everything for our good. Assuredly this trial must have been a heavy cross for you. But what can we do?

Shall we allow such occasions to pass without drawing from them some precious gain towards our salvation? Oh, no. Nature, it is true, suffers cruelly. But we ought not on that account to give way beyond just limits.

Let us turn to Our Lord and make Him a generous offer of all these trials. I will not fail to remember the dear deceased in my prayers. But, she has already received from Our Lord, we may hope, the recompense due to her great virtues.

You will do me a great favor, should you see my brother Michael at Spoleto or in Rome, if you remind him to take advantage of the opportunity he will have to send me two pictures of the Sacred Heart and of the Madonna, one picture of Our Lady of Sorrows and another of the Crucifixion. But I would like them to be expressive. Do me this favor and I shall be extremely grateful for it. Do not forget to lay special stress on the word “expressive”.

Remember me to my Uncle, my Aunt and the whole household. Tell them that my life as a Passionist is a sweet, peaceful, happy life. Oh, how sweet it is to serve God!

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady
of Sorrows

~

Morrovalle
December 2, 1856

My Dearest Father,

The kind of life that I lead here is so well regulated that the twenty-four hours of the day seem to me, I assure you in all sincerity, to be only twenty-four short minutes which fly rapidly by. This is a great encouragement to me. God, it would seem, has really called me to the religious life, and the Congregation which I have entered is indeed that in which Our Lord wishes me to pass the few days of my short existence.

I was very much grieved at hearing of the death of those two, about whom you spoke to me. I will not forget to recommend them to God, together with our own dead in my poor prayers Advent being already begun, I send you beforehand, as also to my brothers and the rest of the family, my best wishes for the holy Feast of Christmas. May the Holy Infant Jesus, and Mary, His Immaculate Mother, grant you all every happiness and crown you with blessings. Let us pray often to Him who came from the right hand of His Father where He was, to be born between two beasts in a poor stable. Let us beg Our Savior who so willingly exposed Himself to the insults and outrages of His creatures, in order to snatch us from everlasting hell to which we were hopelessly condemned; let us beg of Him to purify our hearts by a holy Communion, and to inflame us with His Divine Love.

My health is splendid and I am very happy. I dwell in God’s house although I do not deserve it. I hope that by placing my confidence in the help of the most Holy Virgin Mary and clinging faithfully to the feet of Jesus Crucified, I may be able to advance along the road to perfection. What more can I wish for in this vale of tears?

Begging your blessing,

I remain.

Your loving son,

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Morrovalle
March 8, 1857

My Dearest Father,

You can well imagine how happy I should be to see once more relatives whom I love so tenderly. But, as I foresee that a visit from them would be a great source of distraction to me, I beg that you will tell them that I appreciate their kind intentions but that for the reason just stated I would prefer to see their visit postponed to some future date when I shall have finished my novitiate. It might be on the occasion of a visit that I have promised to pay my aunt, the nun, after my novitiate.

Dearest Dad, knowing how ardently you desire my eternal salvation, I have not the slightest doubt but that you will explain clearly to them what I have told you. I have, in fact, resolved to avoid any such distractions during my novitiate, and I am positively determined to keep this resolution, as far as I am concerned, even at the risk of being impolite. You must not be surprised at this resolution. I know my own weakness, and while I fall daily into many faults, I still wish to remove from the enemy every possible occasion, even remote ones, of tempting me into other faults.

Do not imagine, either, that this decision has been imposed on me, or even hinted at, by my superiors. They would probably be quite indifferent to these visits and would put no obstacle in their way. It comes solely from my own weakness which obliges me resolutely to avoid everything that would give the devil the least hold of me.

I have heard, through my uncle, that Cencio and Henry study little or next to nothing. I do not wish to take up the whole space in giving advice. I will confess quite frankly that of all the things I feel most sorrow for now, the principle are these: having studied too little, having been disobedient, especially in the choice of companions, and having always said the Rosary of Our Blessed Lady with distraction, or while half-asleep or busied about something else. These few lines will be useful reminders to my brothers. I hope they will take them to heart. I will only add one more thing: that is, that certain companions who win our friendship and affection, by their nice manners, their visits to the house, and by their entertaining ways, lead us straight to hell.

I beg my brothers to be obedient to dear Pacifica. She deserves it for all the good she has done us. If I had always listened to her advice I should be much better. But enough of that.

Tell Henry never to let the daily duty of reciting the Divine Office become burdensome to him. He is of course strictly obliged to it; but if he says it with devotion and has each day the intention of praising the Blessed Virgin by this means, it will be a perfect prayer. Remind him of the words of a Saint on this point: “It is an almost certain pledge of eternal salvation to praise the Blessed Virgin perseveringly each day in the recitation of the Psalter.”

Accept every good wish from my Superiors, especially Father Master. Remember me, and get others to remember me constantly to Our Lord and the Most Holy Virgin, for I need it badly.

Give my regards to all who are kind enough to ask for me, particularly to the Religious that I know.

With love to you and all the household and begging your holy blessing,

I remain,
Your most affectionate son,
Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

P.S.

I shall not fail to offer up my poor prayers to Our Lord and the most Blessed Virgin for the soul you have mentioned to me, as also for yourself, Dearest Father, and for the family, living and dead. Tell Henry and Cencio not to forget what they promised to the Blessed Virgin and to Father Bompiani, that is, to recite the Angelus every morning, noon and evening. If they are in the street or anywhere else, let them not be ashamed to take off their hats. They will thus overcome human respect and will certainly obtain the protection of that all- powerful Mother during this life and at the hour of death. Also, if they would know Mary well and win her love, a precious pledge of their soul’s salvation, let them read St. Alphonsus” book “The Glories of Mary”. They will sec what a good Mother she is. When you answer this letter they will have already, I hope, followed my advice and read it. They will derive great pleasure from this book, which contains at least a hundred very interesting examples, etc.

~

Morrovalle
May 23, 1857

My Dearest Father,

My life is one of unending joy. The days, as I have told you, the very months seem to fly by. I am really very happy serving this good Master and Mistress, who daily reward their servants with so much generosity, not to speak of the everlasting reward which I hope to obtain of their boundless mercy. Oh, at such a thought, how even things which seem bitter become sweet and wholesome! What a great favor it is to be allowed to live in the house of God! How well Our Lord knows how to repay His servants even here below. He is not like the world. The few fleeting joys and pleasures which the world gives to its followers are tainted with a deadly poison. It will make them drain this cup to the dregs at the awful moment of death: fatal pledge of what it reserves for them in eternity.

I understand now those words which I heard so often from you and my teachers and others as well, and which appeared at the time quite commonplace and without much meaning. I understand now, too, another saying I often heard that he who enters religion, “chooses the better part,” “meliorem partem elegit,” that he has entered the harbor and escaped the storm, and he has got clear of the numerous snares of the devil, the flesh, and the world. And many other things I now understand that were once dark to me. Happy is he who being called to such a holy life follows at once the voice of grace.

How do my brothers study? Are they obedient? What attention are they giving to the only thing which really matters; their eternal salvation? Have they a devotion towards Our Lady of Sorrows? Do they sometimes meditate on her sufferings? Have they a solid devotion towards this tender Mother? Above all, do they say the Holy Rosary devoutly? Ah, what power the thought of sincere devotion to this dear Mother of God gives us to bear up under all our weaknesses, our sorrows, etc. Mary is the only ladder reaching to eternal happiness. I should be glad if you would take especial care of the plaster statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, which was once mine, and make it the means of nurturing your own devotion to her. If you do this you will give me the greatest pleasure. And you will be doing a thing very pleasing to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pray for me always and ask others to pray especially for me at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and at your Communions. On my part I will never forget you or those who recommend me to Our Lord in prayer.

When you write to Michael tell him to call and see Father Tedeschini. Besides the spiritual profit he will gain for himself by these visits, he will be doing me a kindness.

May the Holy Spirit of God descend during these days on you and on my brothers. May He bestow on you that spirit of truth, consolation and peace which is the pledge of eternal salvation.

May our most Holy and sweet Mother Mary ”she who is all goodness, all compassion for our miseries” may she compensate and abundantly reward you for the trouble and unceasing care that you have taken for our spiritual welfare and our education.

Let us ever keep before our mind the hope of being all together one day in the company of this loving Mother. In the meantime let us trust in her, and be without fear.

Your affectionate son

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Morrovalle
September 2, 1857

My Dearest Father,

I remember well the promise that I made you of returning home if I found that I was not called by Our Lord to this Religious Congregation.

But how, dearest Father, can I leave so loving a Master as Jesus Christ and a Mistress so full of tenderness as Mary? The more pain I give to their Sacred Hearts, unworthy and useless servant that I am, the more they teach me that they alone are the dispensers of true joy and happiness. I do not deserve so great a favor. I am indeed unworthy of it. God knows it is my heart that speaks.

Your desire, dearest Father, to see me again, if possible, has given me the greatest satisfaction. Perhaps, however, you will not have an opportunity of seeing me on the day of my profession which, with God’s help, will take place (Gismondo and another will be professed at the same time) the day after the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. If I do not see you in person, dearest Dad, be assured I shall see you in spirit before the Most Blessed Sacrament, and also in the Sorrows of Jesus and Mary. You will do the same by me, I hope. Our Lord and the most Holy Virgin will bless these visits and will gain us entrance into that happy and eternal home where we shall never more be separated.

I am going to ask you a favor which I am sure you will not refuse.
This is, indeed, the first and the last time in my life that I shall ask you such a thing. I made a solemn promise to my dear Advocate, the Blessed Virgin Mary, to do something for the souls in Purgatory if she would see me through to the beautiful and longed-for day of my holy Profession. I beg, then, that you will give the sum of ten crowns to Father Guardian of Monte Lugo, to whom I have already written telling him what to do with the money. I am perfectly sure that you will do me the kindness of carrying out this last wish of mine. I have so often had proof of the readiness with which you tried to please both my brothers and myself in everything, that I have not the least doubt that you will all the more readily do me this favor. So I thank you in anticipation.

Henry will be able to manage the business quickest without telling anyone.

Do not think that I forget you, my dear Brothers, in my poor unworthy prayers or any of those whom I ought to pray for. Pray also for me and ask others to pray for my intentions as well, especially in view of my Profession.

Urge my brothers, dear Dad, to pay a visit each day during the holidays to
Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady of Sorrows. Advise them not to give themselves too much to amusement, and to be faithful to those practices of devotion which they have promised to observe.

Your most affectionate son,

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Morrovalle
September 27, 1857

My Dearest Father,

Tuesday, by the grace of God and the help of my Mother of Sorrows, saw my wishes fulfilled. I made my holy Profession with inexpressible joy and delight. Such a grace can never be duly appreciated. Having then received so priceless a favor from God, the obligation of corresponding with it becomes weightier for me. Now you may imagine whether I have need of your prayers and those of others. May God and the Blessed Virgin bless my Profession and crown it with graces.

In your last letter you mentioned that the time arranged for the visit to Monte Giorgio is drawing near. My dearest Father, would you have me speak frankly to you, just as I feel, and without anyone influencing me?
Well, I must tell you that such a visit does not appear to me necessary for any reason. What is more, it seems incompatible with my present position.
Perhaps it will be even hurtful to me from a spiritual standpoint. I may add that amongst us Passionists it is not the custom to make such journeys, not even for the older Fathers. How then could I, who have been so lately professed, dare to face the Superior and ask him for that which not even the older Religious ask? However, if the opportunity occurs of passing through that town (which is the more likely as a monastery is to be founded soon not far from there), I shall be able to take advantage of it. This permission will not be refused.

I will not cease to pray to Our Lord for all those things and for all those who have asked me to pray for them, especially for you, being certain at the same time that you will not forget me.

Your most affectionate son,

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

P.S. I send every good wish to Calandrelli in return for those he sent me.
Tell him that we would have been glad to have had him as a companion of our happiness on the memorable day of September 22, but God had willed it otherwise. We, though more unworthy, have been the privileged ones.

Accept also the good wishes of my excellent Fathers Master and Vice-Master.

(NOTE: Calandrelli had left the Novitiate on account of bad health, and also perhaps because he had no vocation.)

~

Morrovalle
November 15, 1857

My Dearest Father,

I am delighted with the news you have given me of my four brothers.
Give them my love when writing to them. Remind them especially of the end they ought to have before them in their studies. Will you, for my sake, exhort them with true fatherly words (as you always have done) to have a true and unswerving devotion towards the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin. Let them never go to rest without having honored a Mother so gracious and so merciful by some act of devotion. Oh, dear Dad, reading daily the lives of the Saints, I see how a great number of them, tepid and sinful, though they once were, became saints because they had by some practice of devotion, won the heart of this tender Queen, always so ready to grant it to those who ask. How many have been snatched from the hands of the devil thanks to the recital of a Hail Mary, a Stabat Mater, a Rosary, or some such prayer. Oh, if I only had time to give you some instances.

Warn my Brothers, especially Cencio, not to become intimate with their class-fellows who are not noted for virtue. Do not be content, dearest Father, with daily giving them those counsels that you have also given me.
Take the greatest care in this matter. You cannot be too careful. Do not bring them to the theatre or to evening parties under any pretext whatsoever. Doubtless all are not so weak as I have been. I am quite sure of that. Still, all these things are so dangerous. Oh my God, how many sighs does the remembrance of them cost me! I assure you in all sincerity that from the moment I began to frequent such places I was full of hypocrisy. And, alas, in what an abyss should I have not fallen had not Mary, who is so full of goodness even to those who do not pray to her, come to my help during the octave of the Assumption! As you have a real anxiety for the salvation of your children, be inflexible in the matters I have just mentioned to you.

Another subject of sighs and tears and anxieties for me are those accursed novels. How I wish I had never read them. They appeared harmless at the time and they were really so many devils!

These few lines have, I think, been inspired by the Blessed Virgin. I am ashamed of myself as I write them. Pardon me, dearest Father. God suggested to me what I have just said to you. I hope I shall be allowed to send you this letter.

You can rest assured I will never forget to pray for you, as also for my brothers, Pacifica, and all those who remember me in their prayers. Give them all my kind regards. Tell them to pray for me. I am very grateful for all you have done as regards the Father Prior of Monte Lugo. Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of Our Holy Founder. I hope that Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary will be pleased to hear my poor prayers.

Begging your holy blessing,
I am,
Your affectionate son,

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Morrovalle
December 20, 1857

My Dearest Father,

The anniversary of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s birth, which the Church is about to celebrate, reminds all the faithful to wish each other the precious gifts that Jesus came to bring us. It friends and brothers are accustomed to interchange good wishes at this time, what is a son to say to a tenderly loved Father? I do not want to fill space with compliments or vain greetings. I desire one thing only, that the dear Infant Jesus and His loving Mother may deign to grant the good things I wish for you and all those at home. You can remind my brothers that at the approach of this Feast my heart used to leap with joy, with a false and deceitful joy. In fact, what I most desired in those days, and chiefly on the eve and night of this great feast, was games, entertainments, and other distractions of the kind. Indeed, I used to do everything but the right thing. Let this be a lesson to them.

May Jesus and Mary deign to grant my prayers.

Your very affectionate son,

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

My Dear Brother, (Michael)

I will not begin my letter by offering you the good wishes it is customary to offer at this season, but by opening my heart freely, as one ought to do to a brother. What shall I say to you? I do not wish to make you uneasy, but those words in your letter “I greatly desire that you would let me know in detail your mode of life” have made a deep impression on me. From the moment I read them I have not ceased to recommend you in a particular manner to Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I shall continue to do so.

My dear brother, can it be that the happy hour is coming for you which has already struck for me, although I was by far the more unworthy of this favor? And why should not she who is called “Refuge of the Sinner” have turned toward both of us. I long to think it is so, and if it were, all I should have to say to you would be “Surge et veni” “Arise and come.”
Don’t do as I did, who, when called by Our Lord, put off accepting His invitation from day to day through my negligence, but if you hear His voice calling you, do not delay a moment to answer it. Leave learning, relatives, and the world, and put your hand to the work. Do not let yourself be deceived by the devil who tells you: “It is necessary first of all to think this over!” No! do not mind him; come at once to the feet of Jesus.

Perhaps I should not be where I am now if I had delayed much longer in answering the call of God. Have recourse to Mary and, if she has obtained for you the precious grace of a vocation, give her your heartfelt thanks. At her feet make a sacrifice of all and say to her (mark the words well) ; “I sacrifice everything to you; learning, relations and worldly goods.” Put yourself under her protection and fly with her.

If I am to have the happiness of seeing you called to the religious life, write to me soon, that I may be able to arrange everything with the Provincial. But if I am mistaken; if you do not see (and it is only with spiritual eyes that so important a thing as this ought to be viewed) it, I say, you do not see that you have a vocation, let it be as if I had never written to you on the subject. This is what I feel in my heart, so I hope you will take it in good part.

I am now going to tell you in detail the sort of life I lead. I think
I ought to tell you in the first place that in our Congregation all live in common. The religious has nothing to trouble about, either as regards food or clothes. His superior, who has for his subjects the same care as the good father of a family has for his children, provides everything for him. The Passionists have no revenue of any kind. They live solely by alms. I can assure you that in spite of this we never want for anything, for Our Lord provides for us abundantly.

I will now give you concisely the horarium for day and night. At night we go to repose fairly early, and after five hours sleep we get up to chant Matins in choir. This chant, which lasts about an hour, is followed by a half-hour of mental prayer. Afterwards we return to bed, in winter for three hours, in summer for two and a half. In the morning we get up to chant the canonical hours of Prime and Tierce. We assist at two Masses, and, after having put our cells in order we take a light collation. Each one then applies himself to his particular work, such as study, hearing confessions, etc. . . . After that we have spiritual reading for a quarter of an hour, followed by a solitary walk for half an hour. We go back to choir to chant Sext and None, then we dine. Besides Lent and Advent we have three fast days a week; Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Thanks to Divine Providence, there is no want of anything, although we live only on alms.

At the appointed hour we go to chant Vespers, and we make about a quarter of an hour’s spiritual reading in common. There is also in the evening another solitary walk for half an hour. However, on Thursdays and Sundays and on certain feast days we spend part of the evening walking in the country. When we return we say Compline, then we have an hour’s meditation, and after that, supper. During winter we have recreation for three-quarters of an hour, and for an hour in summer. The day ends with the recital of the Rosary.

In this manner, each day passes quickly, peacefully and joyfully. Oh, how sweetly one goes to rest with the thought that all the day he has been serving Our Lord, although it may be very imperfectly! What pleasant and peaceful sleep that nothing comes to disturb, no fear, no care, no anxiety, not even death itself, since being, as we hope, in the grace of God, death can only deliver us from this vale of sorrow.

I may say in conclusion, that I have myself had my share of the entertainments and pastimes that the deceitful world can give, and I can assure you that one single aspiration to Jesus and Mary gives more joy than all those frivolities and vanities of the world.
Do you remember the miraculous statue of which Dad has so often spoken to us and which is called, if I remember rightly, “Our Lady of Pity” ? Go there; ask her to enlighten you; tell her that Dad has had recourse to her, and that he has not been disappointed. Neither will you be.

Your very affectionate brother,

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Morrovalle
March 7, 1858

Dearest Father,

I thank God that you have reached an age to retire from office. The less engrossing one’s business the better one can direct one’s efforts towards the supreme end of existence. There we hope to receive from an Almighty and generous God eternal rest, after the few labors of our short life. May the Blessed Virgin Mary be your advocate and may she obtain for you this precious grace. I will not fail to remember you to Our Lord and Our Lady of Sorrows in my poor prayers, also all the family living and dead.
Do the like for me.

Your most affectionate son,

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Morrovalle
May 2, 1858

My Dearest Father,

I see no difficulty in your project of going to live in Rome, the less so, as my brothers can pursue their studies there under your own eyes. You ought to ascertain beforehand, however, whether that unhealthy climate might be hurtful to you. It is true that in the summer time you could go somewhere outside the city to avoid the heat of Rome. As regards Vincent’s profession, you have not asked my advice, and I do not dare to offer any. I only beg and conjure you to consider less the interests of the present life than the eternal interests of the soul. “What does it profit a man,” indeed, “if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his own soul?” “Now one thing is necessary.” Jesus Christ Himself has taught us this truth. That is why I urge you not to select a profession where the soul may be imperilled.

Dearest, Father, if I were not writing to you I would omit what I am going to say. But next to the salvation of my own soul I desire and pray for yours and that of our family. Do not permit! I beg of you with all my heart! Do not permit any of my brothers to frequent balls or theatres. Do not allow excuses such as that recreation is necessary, that there is no evil in the thing, and that “those are good people”. No, dear Dad, do not admit these excuses. I have heard this language at home myself, and yet, God knows how baneful such things have been to me. No! I repeat! No; nowadays such an excuse ought not to be taken. As we are in the month of May, would not my brothers be glad to offer a lovely bouquet to Mary?

If you go away, I beg of you to take care of the statue of Our Lady of Dolours. Honor her all you can by pious exercises, and do not doubt but you will experience her merciful help.

Your very affectionate son,

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Morrovalle
May 27, 1858

My Dearest Father,

The efficacy of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion which is daily increasing, is my excuse for asking you, in your charity, for some leaflets concerning it so that I may make it more widely known. I am unwilling to mention any number, and will only remark that each membership requires nine leaflets, as Henry will tell you. I depend then on your charity to do me this favor, reminding you that you will not go unrewarded for it.

I wish Henry would get with the least possible delay Roberto the Camaldolese Hermit’s book entitled “The Love of Mary.” It is a collection of miracles and examples, most interesting to read and I would like one of my brothers to read it to you every day in your room in the presence of those of the household able to come and listen to it, in order thus to learn how to know Mary better, and the power she can use in our favor. Tell
Henry, too, to do his best to have it read in the Confraternity. The ardent desire that I have for your salvation will tell you how much I have all this in my heart.

Ever,

Your affectionate son,

Confrater Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Pievetorina
December 19, 1858

Dearest Family,

As we are very near the time of peace, mercy and grace, I, as a good son ought, think it my duty to wish a loving Father, not a compliment nor as a matter of form, but with my whole heart and with the most ardent desire, that this time may be for you and all at home a time blessed by God, a time of real joy and worthy of pleasant and everlasting remembrance. Yes, dearest Father, and you, my beloved brothers, I wish that Jesus may be born again in your hearts; that Mary may ever preserve Him there by her prayers; that Joseph, the holy Angels, and the shepherds may keep Him company and intercede on our behalf. My one wish is that this Holy Family may take you under their protection.

Dearest Father, thanks to Jesus and Mary, I have renounced everything and since I made this sacrifice I could not be more happy than I am. However, knowing your generosity and that of my brothers and Pacifica, I venture to ask you again and again this year for a Christmas gift. I have no right to it, so I ask through pure charity. Besides, it is not for myself that I ask this favor, it is for your own souls. You will not be giving it to me, for I declare that never more will I ask anything for myself. It is to Jesus Christ Himself that you will bring the gift I ask for: I mean union and charity among all of you at home. Let no reproaches, sharp words, or bickerings be heard among you. Let peace, union, charity, and brotherly love reign in your midst. Jesus and Mary will come to dwell in that abode of peace as they did long ago in the stable of Bethlehem.

Dear Dad, be generous with the servants and particularly with those who are poor. Dear Dad, has this advice which I have so often given to Michael and Pacifica been put into practice? I am not sure.

Well, would you deign to listen to the wish of a son who undoubtedly in the past has been thoughtless and ungrateful towards you and has caused you many anxieties and cares, but who, today, begs pardon with his whole heart, and seeks, begs, desires but one thing; your soul’s salvation. I repeat it, dear Father, when you have read this letter, give your commands at once; exert your authority in this matter. Oh, how it would cry to God for vengeance, if a father whose son, thanks be to God, lives comfortably on charity alone, should allow his poor servants to suffer by not giving them enough for their livelihood. Be quite sure, dear Dad, charity never degraded anybody. On the contrary, the blessing of the poor will call down the blessing of Heaven on you and your family. Jesus Christ has said; “what you do for the poor, you do also to Me.”

May it please Jesus and Mary that your house may henceforth become the refuge of the poor.

Do not fear, dear Dad, do not tear that you will want for anything. The blessings of the poor, and what is far better, the blessings of Jesus and Mary will be the best inheritance you can leave your children. One of your greatest consolations when dying will be that you did not send away any poor person without relieving his wants. This thought will strengthen your soul and will be your best defense at the searching judgement of God. This, in a word will gain great merit for you in Heaven. Oh, may no one be so unfortunate as to dissuade you from acting thus. If there were such a one, alas, how I should tremble for him. It is your place to command. Your goods are your own. No one has the right to claim them, no matter who he be, and it seems to me most just that you should employ what God has freely given you for His glory and your own salvation.

Do not despise, dearest Father, the wishes of a son who, after his own salvation, desires and begs of God nothing more ardently than yours and your family’s. It is not without a singular inspiration from Our Lord that I feel myself impelled to write in such a strain to you. Your kindness and the assurance you have that these sentiments spring from a heart that loves you, will be my excuse. May Jesus and Mary themselves deign to aid my words and my poor advice. Rest certain, moreover, that in showing mercy to the poor, you will yourself find mercy with God.

Your very affectionate son,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Pievetorina
January 10, 1859

My Dear Michael,

I have not forgotten you in my poor prayers, but what use are they of themselves? Oh, I beg, by the love you ought to have for your soul, never leave off, no never, cost what it may, practicing those acts of devotion towards the Blessed Virgin which you have marked out for yourself. It is with my whole heart and not without a particular inspiration, unless I am deceived, that I exhort you to offer this bouquet to Mary. If you do so, there is not the least doubt but that you will receive a great reward.

At this time of the year, when the world blindly abandons itself to amusements and folly, can you not deprive yourself of something? Some amusement? For the love of Jesus and Mary? When you wish to practice these pious acts, you will say to yourself, “I could amuse myself if I pleased; it is quite allowable, but I will deprive myself of it for the love of Jesus and Mary.” Afterwards go and make a short visit to an image of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Dear brother, will you refuse me what I ask of you? Will you say “no”? This mark of affection for which I beg is the one I have most at heart, and I desire it with all the earnestness of my soul. Give it, dearest brother, and Jesus and Mary will be pleased with it.

Would you like a memento of that brother who, by the mercy of Jesus and Mary, loves you more than anyone else, although in the past he may have had for you too often feelings of aversion and antipathy. Well, do not put this letter along with the others, but re-read now and again the lines that I have just written to you. You will thus give me great pleasure.
When you write to our brother, the Dominican, give him my love, and tell him that if I appear to forget him because I do not write, in my heart I never forget him. Give him this little memento; “Beloved brother, do not forget that both of us are strictly obliged to tend to perfection.”

Your very affectionate brother,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Pievetorina
February 1, 1859

Dearest Father,

You ought to rejoice, rather than be cast down, that God visits you with trials and sufferings; tribulations being ordinarily the distinctive mark of the elect. Dear Dad, are you in need of solace? Listen to me. Neither the conversation of your fellow men, nor theatres, nor anything that the blind world can offer, is capable of comforting a distressed mind and a sick body. No, dear Dad, since God has visited you with this sickness, conversation with Jesus and Mary can alone bring you any consolation. They alone can give you the strength and help you need. For this reason, get good books which will speak to you of the love of Jesus and Mary. Read the works of St. Francis de Sales which you have at home; in a word, devote yourself to exercises of piety. Cencio and Henry, as well as the other members of the family, will keep you company in all this. Let your soul be the only object of your thoughts, now that business no longer troubles you. This is God’s will for you.

I know from experience that there are certain books which did not appear clearly to be bad, but I see now the horrible poison they contain and to what extent they are capable of corrupting the heart. Keep all romances away from the house, and be very watchful on this point. Since Cencio only attends lectures as an extern, make him and Henry read for you the pious books that I have mentioned above. Jesus and Mary will teach you to savour all the sweetness that is in them.

What an opportunity have you not now of giving yourself entirely to the practice of virtue. You are free from all professional cares. You have a son already a subdeacon, and another with his time almost completely at his own disposal. Then, dearest Dad, how often you have said to me yourself that you would like to retire into a religious house. Do not let your prey escape your hands. Besides what you desire is quite easy, since Divine Providence has so well regulated all things. If you do so, you will enjoy a very peaceful life here below, and one very suitable for your advanced age. As for me, I will do penance for my past life, and all of you will lay up treasures for another life. In this way we shall have the happiness of embracing each other on the dread day of the General Judgment, and of being set at the right hand of the Sovereign Judge, thanks to the protection of Mary, our deliverer.

Your very affectionate son,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Pievetorina
April 27, 1859

Dearest Brother, (Michael)

I thank you, and so does my Father Lector for the pictures of Our Lady of Sorrows, and the others, which you have sent me. Henry having mixed these latter with his own, I cannot tell which are yours.

The little picture of the Immaculate Conception, and those of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Louis Gonzaga, are the ones I like best. May Jesus and Mary reward you for sending them, by so stamping their own likeness on your heart that you may belong to them and to no one else.

My dear Michael, love the Mother of Sorrows much. Give Mary proof of your devotion especially in the way I have already recommended by going often to visit one of her miraculous images; and for choice, visit those which represent Our Lady of Sorrows.

My dear Michael, be on your guard against dangerous occasions of sin, avoid worldly vanities, theatres, bad books, and bad companions. Oh, dear brother, I assure you in all sincerity, that when I think of my own past conduct in this respect I tremble for my salvation, although, thanks be to God, I am now in religion and, consequently, leading a life of penance.

Do not fail to make a visit for me and in my name to one of the images of which I have spoken just now. Do me this favor as soon as you can. Pray always for me. I promise you I will also pray for you.

Your affectionate brother,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

May 13, 1859
Pievetorina

My Dearest Friend,

Don’t imagine that because we are far away from one another my love for you has grown cold. Nothing of the kind, I assure you. God’s grace, on the contrary, has elevated and purified my affection for you, and I declare in all sincerity that though I desire the salvation of all, I desire yours with special earnestness. If then you look on me as a true and sincere friend you will take in good part what I am going to say to you with all the affection of my heart.

You are right when you say that the world is full of dangers and pitfalls and that it is very difficult to save one’s soul in it. However, if it is really God’s will that you should live in the world, there is no need to get discouraged. Oh, no! One can save one’s soul even in the world.

Now, my dear Philip, if you sincerely desire your salvation, avoid, I beg of you, all that I am going to tell you to avoid.

Avoid bad company; and by that I do not mean young fellows without restraint, shameless or grossly immoral, who are indeed rarely met with, but by bad companions I mean those who by flattery and false friendship would taint and pervert your heart. You doubtless understand me.

Avoid the theatre. I know it by experience, that it is rare, and even very rare, to leave it without having lost the grace of God, or at least without exposing it to great danger.

Avoid balls, for in these all things conspire against the soul.

Avoid bad books, for they can cause frightful havoc in a young man’s heart.

My dear Philip, I confess in all sincerity that I do not know whether a whole life spent in this holy Congregation will suffice to make reparation for my faults, above all, for those which I have committed through the four things I have just mentioned.

I leave you to consider if I have spoken truly, since you were always my most intimate friend.

My dear Philip, I think I can say that if I had continued to live in the world, I should not have been able to save my soul. Oh, no, it is impossible to be saved when one gives oneself up to worldly friendships, when one listens to bad conversations, when one exposes oneself to so many dangers, and, in a word, when one frequents company where the spirit of the world holds sway.

Tell me, could I have had more amusement and more fun than I had in the world? Well, what remains to me of it all now? Nothing but regrets, fears and sufferings.

Listen to me. In the world I confess I have not always made known to you the real feelings of my heart; but I can assure you that I speak to you today with the greatest sincerity and as a true friend. I tell you I desire only one thing in your regard. It is that, on the dread day of General Judgement, if I can save my own soul, I may find myself with you under the protecting mantle of Mary.

Ah, my dear Philip, if you have listened in the past to the bad advice that I have given you, I beg you not to misunderstand me now. I have received numerous tokens of your friendship. I preserve its happy remembrance, but today I ask, I beg, only one thing of you; that you will not despise the letter of a friend who speaks to you from an overflowing heart. Would to God it were possible for you to read what is in my heart!

Dear Philip, do not laugh at me, for it is my heart that speaks. I ask pardon for the scandal that I may have given you, and I declare that I wish to retract all the evil I may have spoken against anyone whatever. I pray you, forget it all. Ask Our Lord, too, to pardon me.

You ask me, my dear Philip, for a little book of meditations. You could not ask me anything more agreeable, but you have not told me what sort of one I should send you. If you desire a little book for meditation, believe me, the Eternal Maxims of St. Alphonsus are excellent. However, there is a Month of Mary, which is preferable. I do not know of a better one, whether on account of the thirty or thirty-one meditations that you can re-read each month, or on account of the examples and pious practices it recommends. Not having this book, I cannot send it to you, but I do not think there will be any difficulty in finding it at the Seminary, or the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Go and ask for it and you will do me a great favor.

Please accept this little book that my excellent Superior has given me. Take this souvenir as a pledge of my love for you. Such a present, it is true, would be despicable if one looked only at its outside, but I assure you that if you are faithful in reciting this little Office every day, you will find it a pledge of Mary’s protection.

Accept my excellent Father Lector’s and Gismondi’s kindest regards. Assuring you that I do not forget you in my poor prayers, I subscribe myself.

Your affectionate friend,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

P.S. Get the Month of Mary of Muzzarelli. If you cannot find the book Eternal Maxims of St. Alphonsus let me know. Let me know also if you want any other book, but in that case explain yourself more fully.

~

Isola
July 19, 1859

Dearest Father,

On Sunday evening, thanks be to God, we reached this Retreat. There are a great many fruit trees in this country, proving what I have written to you of it, that the climate is very mild. As for myself, thanks be to God, I am pleased to be here.

Do not believe (as there are some who wrongly do) do not believe, I say that because he is in religion, a son forget the love he owes his Father, and all that his parents have done and suffered for him. I can tell you that on the contrary, in embracing a religious life, one perfects the tenderness he had for his own family, and that one always preserves the grateful remembrance of benefits received. Dear Dad, in spite of my unworthiness, I appoint from this moment, for your consoler and your protectress, the Virgin of Sorrows, who is the Comforter of all men, especially those who are in sorrow. Also, when you would wish to have letters from me, go visit her and tell her that since I abstain from these attentions for love of her, it is her part to console you and fulfil better than I could myself the duties of a son towards his father.

Take good care of the little image of Mary which I left at home and which I recommended to Pacifica when she came to see me. If you desire to see my writing read and re-read these letters that I have sent to you. Do not think that though written by an ungrateful son they deserve to be forgotten. God often uses weak and defective instruments to carry out the workings of His mercy.

Thanks be to God, I am happy and well pleased in the religious life I have chosen. Do not leave off, however, recommending me continually to Jesus, and to Mary, the Mother of Sorrows.

Your very affectionate son,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Dearest Father,

The air of this country, as I have told you several times already, is excellent, and thanks be to God, I suffer less frequently from slight headaches. Our recreations consist in walks which we take from time to time and which give us not the vain pleasure that is felt in the deceitful and corrupting amusements of the world, but that true joy which the grace of God always brings. Oh, how right was that man of God when he said: “If the people of the world knew the tranquillity, the peace, and the happiness of the religious life, they would enter the monasteries in crowds and towns would soon be deserted.” “Oh, how sweet it is,” my companions often say to me, “how sweet it is to serve God and His Holy Mother.” Oh, the delights that are experienced in one hour of meditation in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and of Mary, His most Holy Mother, are incomparably greater than those found in whole evenings spent at theatres, in brilliantly lit salons, in amusements and conversations, all of them, things which cannot satisfy our hearts.

Yes, there is more pleasure in taking a simple solitary walk within the monastery enclosure, under the eyes of Mary, our Queen and the true love of our hearts, than could be felt in the world on the most pleasant promenades. In fact, worldly pleasures always leave a great void in the heart, which the worldling is never able to fill. But what untold consolation for the Religious, when evening comes, to see, thanks to the Divine Mercy, that his whole day has been spent in the service of the Sovereign Master, who will reward His servants so generously. Yes, such a religious is filled with joy, at this thought, and he retires to his poor bed, expecting to rise soon to sing the praises of the Lord. In fine, what makes the yoke of the Lord pleasing, easy and sweet, is the hope that the day will soon come when, without having to feel the pangs caused by the thought of leaving goods, children, and everything else, he will go to enjoy God for a never ending eternity.

Your most affectionate son,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Isola
December 27, 1860

Dearest Father,

My excellent Father Lector, wishing to satisfy you, has told me to write to you. Oh, my dear Father, do not be so anxious to hear from me, since I have a Mother who loves me and in spite of my unworthiness, takes great care of me. Oh, my dearest Dad, let us place a little more confidence in this tender Mother, who declares her love for those who love her: “Ego diligentes me diligo.” I love those who love me, and who says to us with Isaias, “Numquid oblivisci potest mulier infantem suum. . . .” “Can a mother ever forget her child so as not to have pity on the fruit of her womb? Though a mother should forget her child, I will never forget thee.” Ah! how dear we have cost her. Well, indeed, does she know in the midst of what sufferings and torments she received us on Calvary as her children.
She accepted the charge when her well-beloved Son was pouring forth His blood, dying stretched on the Cross, rather than see our souls lost forever.

If we meditate for a few moments on this thought, oh, without doubt, we shall love with a greater love, that Mother who is so tender towards us. We should have greater confidence in her and not fear the devil so much. Nay more, when the devil will attempt to intimidate us by his threats and terrors, our confidence in the Most Holy Virgin will make us say: “Si Maria pro me, quis contra me?” “If Mary is for me, who is against me?” It will not be God the Father, since Mary, in quality of His well-beloved daughter, will appease Him. It will not be Christ, the Judge, since she as His Mother will incline Him to pardon us. It will not be our sins, for they will be blotted out in her presence form contact with her mercy. “All hell trembles with terror when I say ‘Hail Mary’ “; “Satan fugit cum dico ‘Ave Maria’ infernus contremiscit.” Lastly, we will not fear men, for according to the Word of the Holy Ghost, the Most Holy Virgin is “strong as an army set in battle array.” Oh, if we give ourselves over completely to her, if we often say to her: “Oh, my Queen, I place the defence of my cause in your hands, I place myself under your protection.”In manus tuas, Domina, commendo causam meam”; our sleep will certainly be more tranquil, our days happier, our life, in one word, will be a real heaven.

It is said of Mary that every good comes with her: “venerunt omnia bona pariter cum ilia.” If then we have Mary with us we have everything; everything is wanting to us if she is absent. If Mary protects us we are saved, if she abandons us we are lost. It is not I who say it, it is the Saints. Think well on these thoughts.

Remember me to Pacifica, and tell her to bear her ill-health patiently in memory of Mary’s Sorrows. Let her strive to honor the Most Holy Virgin by doing these great things for her. Besides, this powerful Mother will know well how to reward her a hundredfold.

Your very affectionate son,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Isola
May 9, 1861

Dearest Father,

I have learned from your last letter that God has visited you with a pro- longed trial, but console yourself with the thought that God tries those whom He loves, and that it is not a very good sign to be always prosperous. Now is not a time of rest; it is a time of suffering. Rest will come when in the designs of His Divine Mercy it will please Our Lord to call us to Himself.

We are building now the dwelling that we must inhabit, not only for thirty, forty, or one hundred years, but for all eternity as long as God will reign on His throne, that is to say, forever.

We shall inhabit the house which we ourselves shall have built. Whether we are forever happy or unhappy depends on ourselves. Have confidence then, dearest Father; we are pilgrims, and being such, we ought not to linger by the roadside of this deceitful world. Let us keep our eyes fixed on our Country. Consider attentively Jesus and Mary and see if their sorrows do not surpass all imaginable sorrows. Suffer joyfully for their sake. They will know well how to reward you. He who is King of the Universe, and she who is its Queen, have suffered; and we, mere nothings that we are, would wish to suffer nothing for their love. What do I say? for their own advantage? I strongly recommend the devotion of the “Month of Mary” and recital of the “Stabat Mater.” You have already told me that you practice this devotion, but if you could celebrate the Month of Mary at home with all the servants, it would be better still.

Remember that “the road which leads to salvation opens only through Mary,” “Nemini nisi per eam patet aditus ad salutem,” and that he “whom she wishes to save will be saved. ” “Quem ipsa vult, salvus erit.” I devote the remainder of this letter to Henry. As for myself, thanks be to God and the Most Holy Virgin Mary, I am very well and very happy.

Accept every kind wish from Father Lector and myself. Begging your holy blessing, dear Father.

Your very affectionate son,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Isola
May 9, 1861

Dear Brother, {Henry)

If I did not love you I should not trouble so much about you, but as I love you now more dearly than ever, listen to my words, although they are those of a brother much below you. I feel myself urged to speak to you as a true brother concerning your new state, but having nothing of my own to write to you, I will put before you what spiritual writers and Saints say about the Priesthood. Do not be astonished if I quote Latin texts: it is in order that you may understand them better. “Magna dignitas, sed magnum est pondus. In alto gradu positi oportet quoque ut in virtutum culmine sint erecti; alioquin (mark this well) non est meritum, sed ad proprium praesunt judicium.” Thus speaks St. Justinian. “The priesthood is a great dignity, but is also a great burden. Priests are placed at a great height, but it
behooves them also to be raised to the summit of virtue. Without that there is no merit for them, for they will only be thus raised up for their own condemnation.” Such is the excellence of your dignity that St. Bernardine speaking to Mary says: “Virgo benedicta, excusa me, sacerdotium ipsum praetulit supra te.” “O Blessed Virgin, pardon what I am going to say. God has raised the priesthood even above yourself.” St. Bernard calls Priests “Parentes Christi” (Parents of Christ), and St. Augustine cries out: “O veneranda Sacerdotum dignitas, in quorum manibus Dei Filius veluti in utere Virginis incarnatur!” “O venerable dignity of Priests. The Son of God becomes man in their hands just as He became man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin!” Finally, St. Clement, speaking of the Priest calls him “a god on earth.” “Post Deum deus terrenus.”

What then ought not to be your sanctity, O my Brother? Shun the society of priests who are not men of exemplary virtue. Remain alone, or better, keep the company of those who can do your soul some good. Watch over your senses carefully. Devote yourself earnestly to study. I must confess that one of the things that frighten me most at nearing the Priesthood, if it is in the designs of God that I ever reach it, it is the thought of study.
Doubtless for the past four years, thanks to the Divine Mercy, I have studied a little less negligently than I used to do with you at home, and yet few days pass without the thought of study inspiring me with serious misgiving. Take care not to say Mass or the Divine Office hurriedly. Work for God, for now is not a time of rest, but of work, above all for a priest. Spread devotion to Mary, as I have told you in another letter. I do not wish in speaking so, to preach at you, but God chooses at times the most contemptible means to speak to souls.

~

September 9, 1861
Isola

Dearest Father,

I reply in a few words to your very dear letter to express the sorrow I feel for the sickness of Pacifica and your own ill health. Let us have patience and suffer all for love of Jesus and Mary. They have suffered so much for us! By doing so, our sorrows will be lightened, and we shall not lose the merit of which they are a source.

The ordination for subdiaconate is fixed for the Saturday before the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows and that of diaconate for Christmas Quarter Tense. Very certain circumstances may, perhaps, prevent the journey being made.

May the will of Jesus be done. I am content. Nevertheless, I fear that I have not corresponded sufficiently well with the extraordinary grace I have received from God. Pray then and get prayers said for me. It is the only thing I ask you for. The loving Virgin of Sorrows who cannot see our miseries without compassionating them, will keep us safe enough under her protecting mantle, and she employs for our defence those same swords which have pierced her blessed and spotless heart. Let us compassionate Mary’s sorrows and she herself will infallibly compassionate ours. Oh, what sweetness and calm one feels when one throws oneself on her maternal protection! If Mary is for us, who shall be against us? “Si Maria pro nobis, quis contra nos?”

Take special care of Pacifica. Cheer her and tell her to honor the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows that I left at home. Accept kind wishes from my devoted Father Lector and myself. Remember me to those at home and all those with whom I am united to Jesus.

If you wish to be saved, give alms to the poor who represent Jesus Christ.

Asking your blessing,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Isola
December 19, 1861

Dearest Father,

I reply immediately to your very dear letter. I must remind you that God will never fail to provide generously for your needs if you provide Him in the person of the poor. Oh, dearest Father, if experience has not proved the truth of what I say, it would appear a paradox and, as it were, a tempting of God. How so? To give what one has to the poor and then to imagine that God will work a miracle, so that we shall want for nothing is, a tepid Christian would say, folly and rashness; but he would be wrong.

Try to economize, especially by reducing the portion of the poor and neglecting to assist them, and you will always be in anxiety and need. Yes, try it, and if the result does not prove what I have said, do not fear to contradict me. One of the most efficacious means of avoiding misfortune, of being happy on earth, of being without enemies, of having comfort on the bed of suffering, is to be generous towards Jesus Christ’s poor; and, to be that, we must not put them off with a little piece of bread given with a sad countenance and, as it were against the grain.

Remember, dear Father, that you have a son who, after all, is but a beggar, living on the alms of others. Not only does he want for nothing, but he lives in greater abundance (pardon me saying it) than when in his father’s house. Justice, therefore, demands that you should give to the children of Jesus Christ that which Jesus Christ gives to your own son.

Please accept the good wishes for your happiness that I offer you, much more with my heart than with my tongue. For Christmas is close at hand. May Jesus, Mary and Joseph make you happy in time and eternity. You ought not to be impatient to have news of me; for when there is anything particular to tell I shall not fail to let you know. For myself, I never cease to bless the merciful hand of the Most Holy Virgin, which withdrew me from the world. I ought to be a priest by now, but I have only received minor orders up to the present, the ordinations not having taken place. God wills it so, and His will is mine.

Recommend me in your prayers, in a very special manner, and ask others to pray for me to Jesus and to the Virgin of Sorrows. They are the only Christmas gifts I ask of you. You will not refuse me. Bless me,

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

~

Isola
December 30, 1861

My Dear Michael,

Bear in mind that one cannot serve two masters. God and the world cannot abide in the same heart.

They deceive themselves who think they will be saved because they engage in some pious practice or good works, though, at the same time, they set their affections on creatures, worldly amusements and pleasant pastimes.

Jesus Christ has said: “The road to heaven is narrow”; and He adds that anyone who would follow Him must deny himself, and take up his cross daily; “qui vult venire post me, abneget semetipsum, tollat crucem suam quotidie et sequatur me.”

I like to think that for you there are neither theatres, balls, banquets,or such like things, and that you are prudent enough to hold aloof from these dangers even though you live in the world. If it were otherwise, ah, dear Michael (believe a brother who speaks to you from his inmost heart, and who desires only one thing, to see you happy here and hereafter), be sure that it is very dangerous to frequent such places without a real necessity, and that it is the height of presumption to hope for the grace to avoid sin while one remains in the occasions of it.

Dear Michael, would you have someone to love? Be it so, by all means.
But whom shall you love? Mary! What creature is more beautiful, more lovable, more powerful? And do not imagine that to love, to speak, and to live with Mary is wearisome and devoid of charm, because she is not seen with bodily eyes. Oh, no; nothing of the kind. The consolations, the delights of this love are so much the more satisfying to the heart, as the soul is superior to the senses. Be assured, moreover, that you will meet none in this world who can make you happy, for their love is inconstant or false. And were one to be found without these defects, the very thought of the parting that must one day come would fill the heart with bitterness and cruel pain. Now, not so with him who chooses Mary for his portion, for she is loving, faithful, constant, and will never be outdone in love.

If we are in danger, she hastens to our rescue. If we are cast down, she consoles us. If we are sick she comforts us. If we are in need, she runs to help us with no thought of our past misdeeds. The moment she sees a heart that wishes to love her, she comes and reveals to it the secret of her mercies. She presses it to her bosom, shields it, consoles it, and even stoops to serve it, even deigns to keep it company on its way to eternity.

Then when the moment of death comes, oh, dearest Brother, think of it, when for those who love creatures all is at an end, and they must go hence into the eternal abode which they have built for themselves, while they cry out with unutterable anguish and almost in despair: “O bitter and cruel death, is it so thou tearest me away from all I have loved!” At the end true lovers of Mary are glad of heart. They invite death. They part without sorrow from their friends and the world, for they know that they are soon to possess the object of their love and that in her possession they will be forever happy.

Now, try and do what I tell you, and if you do not find out the truth of what I say, do not be afraid to tell me I am wrong.

Go every day, both morning and evening if you can, to visit some shrine of Mary, but go for choice to a church where this good Mother is least visited. Your presence will thus be all the more pleasing to her. Make a sacrifice of some dangerous or vain object you may have. Lay it at her feet in one of these visits. Deprive yourself, for her love, of company or amusement which might be dangerous or an occasion of sin. I beg you to say the Rosary every day in her honor, and when you feel inspired by her to make some sacrifice, make it at once with a good heart, and have no fear that Mary will be outdone in generosity.

Make known the contents of this letter, if you think it well, to Teta and
Pellegrini. Let them remember that the scene of this world is passing rapidly. Let them always bear in mind the thought of God’s presence, and let them never for all the gold in the world, permit themselves any liberty that might displease Him. It is much better to labor and suffer for the few years we live on earth and so merit everlasting happiness, than to enjoy our ease now and suffer hereafter, not for ten or a million years, but for eternity. Tell them to stamp this truth on their minds; that God will demand from them an account, not only of their own souls, but also of their children’s. Let them endeavour, therefore, to bring them up in the holy fear of God, and not according to the maxims of the world. If they do not act so, what answer will they be able to make on the Day of Judgement?

This letter will, perhaps, provoke a smile, but that matters little. The writer only deserves derision. Be it understood. however, that he who writes these lines does so with his heart in his pen, without regard for the opinion of the world, and with no motive but the deep interest he has in you. Yes, his sole desire, after the glory of God is to see us all united under Mary’s protection at the dread hour of Judgement.

~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s