The Spirituality of Blessed Louis Guanella
Note: All credit for the following text goes to http://www.cssmrserv.org
The spirituality of Blessed Louis Guanella can be understood as a unique
confluence of the spirituality of the "saints of charity" such as St. Francis
of Assisi, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Joseph Cottolengo, and St. John Bosco,
with the spirituality of the "saints of mystical contemplation" represented
by St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila. For Fr. Guanella, a life
and spirit of action and contemplation, as symbolized by the sisters St.
Martha and St. Mary in the gospels, served as the foundational cornerstones
which guided and sustained his ministry of charity along with his life of
prayer. "Prayer and suffering" were to be the guideposts by which he and
his followers were to actively live this spirituality and giving "Bread and
the Lord" to those whom he served further exemplifies these ideals of action
and contemplation in the tradition of St. Benedict's "ora et labora" - "prayer
Another hallmark of Fr. Guanella's spirituality centered on his serene confidence
and trust in the loving Providence of God, the Father. Because of the Father's
infinite goodness and love, especially to his "least ones," Fr. Guanella's
faith-filled trust that God would provide, care for, and protect us permeated
his life and spirituality. It was this confidence and trust in the Providence
of God which allowed Bl. Louis to carry on his work to God's "buoni figli"
(good children) to many parts of Italy with only the support of his priests,
brothers, and sisters and the support of many friends and benefactors.
Fr. Guanella's spirituality was also very Christo-centric fixed very strongly
on the person of Jesus Christ in His Sacred Heart. It was in the Heart of
Jesus that Blessed Louis Guanella saw the "burning furnace of charity" which
enlivened all of our souls and which inspired our every action in service
to the poor and marginalized of society. Fr. Guanella also instructed his
followers to recognize in the poor and the "least ones" the face of Jesus
Christ himself - an ideal similarly taught by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Finally, Bl. Louis Guanella's spirituality would be less than complete if
it did not include its most essential component - the theological virtue
of charity which St. Paul describes as the "greatest of these" virtues. To
his first priests, Fr. Guanella stated that "all our experience of faith
and service has charity as its center," a charity which is lived in filial
surrender to God and in evangelical compassion to the poor. In addition to
its love of the Providential Father and service to the poor, this charity
is a charity which is to be lived in a familial spirit pointing to the Holy
Family of Nazareth as the model of family life with this life being characterized
by simplicity and trust and complete availability to the Father's will. Lastly,
this charity, for Fr. Guanella, was to be nourished, sustained, and strengthened
through devotion to and frequent, if not daily, reception of Jesus Christ
in the Most Holy Eucharist. It is this Eucharistic aspect of Bl. Louis Guanella's
spirituality which makes possible a life of action and contemplation - which
underpins one's perseverance to "prayer and suffering"; and which pervades
a life of giving "Bread and the Lord."
(Credit: Catholic Social Services - Mental Retardation Services (Archdiocese
of Philadelphia) and the Cardinal Krol Center)
*Note on the image above: This is the crest of the Servants of Charity, founded by Bl. Louis Guanella. The motto "In Omnibus Charitas" translates to "In All Things Love."