Words of Wisdom

Blessed Luigi Guanella said...
Plant your heart in Jesus Crucified and all the thorns will seem like roses.


Christ Crucified

3rd Sunday of Lent—March 26, 2000
“B” Readings: Exod. 20:1-17 • 1 Cor. 1:22-25 • John 2:13-25

The focus of our Lenten pilgrimage to Calvary is clearly defined on this third Sunday of Lent. Today we hear the words of St. Paul in the second reading to the Corinthians in spiritual admonition, “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. . . .” Christ accepted suffering and death to take away the sins of the world—a “willing” acceptance of that which most of us spend a lifetime trying to avoid. In Christ, then, is to be found a model of living; by accepting sufferings in our own lives we can unite ourselves more closely to the Lord who suffered for all. His Passion and crucifixion are not only a tremendous and painful sacrifice, they are the means by which Almighty God deigned to redeem the world. In the Providence of God our suffering also has merit, especially when united to (as St. Paul says in the second reading) “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” It is in the understanding of the “providence” of God that the sufferings of Christ and our own share of sufferings here in this life make sense.

Don Luigi GuanellaLouis Guanella was born on a farm in the Italian Alps in 1842. He grew up knowing the hard work of mountain people and was skilled in agriculture and carpentry. Above all, from his devout Catholic parents he learned that a loving spirit in sacrifice can work miracles. Through the sacrifice of family and friends he was able to attend the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1866. Don Guanella was to become an apostle for the relief of suffering in Italy, Switzerland and even the United States. He was motivated by the notion that “The heart of a Christian, who believes and feels, cannot pass by the hardship and deprivations of the poor without helping them” (p. 222f, Modern Saints, Ann Ball, Tan Publishing, 1983).

Father Guanella would spend his entire life dedicated to those who suffered incurable diseases, the physically and mentally handicapped, and the aged who had been abandoned by family and friends. These were the people whom “Providence” had sent for Christianity to receive its practical application. Don Guanella worked closely with the spiritual “greats” of his day, Don Bosco at the Oratory of Turin and Pope Pius X. In order that the work would continue he founded the Servants of Charity and the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence to relieve the suffering and maintain the dignity of society’s outcasts.

The work of Father Guanella suffered greatly at the hands of anticlericals, socialists and the freemasons. He was often under the watchful eye of the police; people could only marvel at what the motivation was for such acts of charity and relief of suffering. In 1890 when the House of Providence in Como, Italy was burned to the ground by an anticlerical mob, Don Guanella comforted the two hundred poor and suffering who lived there by housing them that night in the local church. Father Guanella encouraged them to tell God, “Lord, in your design you have permitted that our house be burned down! We will stay here in yours!” (p. 225, Modern Saints).

Don Guanella did much to aid suffering earthquake victims in Italy in 1905 and 1915. World War I was another occasion to provide relief and shelter for refugees. Faith in action, Faith which was a sacrifice—this was not only the Lenten credo of Don Louis Guanella, it was his daily credo. Father Guanella died on October 24, 1915 after spending a lifetime of uniting human suffering and sacrifice to the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus thereby giving it true meaning unto eternal life.

This third Sunday of Lent finds us almost midway on our spiritual pilgrimage to Calvary. We must move forward walking confidently with Christ. Renew today your Lenten resolutions made on Ash Wednesday. If you have failed or neglected that which you embraced enthusiastically at the beginning of Lent, begin anew today. All good works, all sacrifices, all prayer redounds to the glory of God.

The spiritual classic, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis, encourages us in proclaiming Christ crucified:

Had you not gone before and shown us the way, who would have even tried to follow you? How many would have lagged behind had they not your blessed example before their eyes! We are still slow and lukewarm, though we have heard of all your miracles and doctrine; what would we be if we had not your life to guide us?
(p. 137, Ch. 18, Book Three, Catholic Book Publishers, 1977)

During this holy Lenten season let us proclaim Christ crucified—an absurdity to the world, but to those of us called, the wisdom of God.

Suggested reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 572, 605-618, 1508, 1521. 

Reverend Robert P. Clark, a priest of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minn., was ordained in 1984. He received his M.A. in theology from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He has served as a high school teacher, associate pastor and pastor. Currently he serves at the Church of St. Agnes and is a member of the faculty of St. Agnes schools in St. Paul, Minn. His last series of homilies appeared in January 1999.

(Source: Catholic.net)


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