“Pressing on eagerly towards perfection as a traveller does on his way home” (Scr III, 157).
For this Novena of St B. Capitanio and St V. Gerosa we shall draw our inspiration from the Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et exsultate”. After the Scripture Reading of Lauds, we shall accordingly reflect on a thought taken day by day from the Writings of St Bartolomea, with brief suggestions to be lived during the day.
DAY 1: God calls us to live in holiness (p. 13)
He has great designs over you: He wants to lead you not by an ordinary path, but He wants you to be a Saint, a great saint; above all, He wishes you to love him and serve him as becomes a true, loyal bride. Jesus wants you entirely for himself: give yourself to him totally, unreservedly (Scr I, 392-393). The bright flame of his Holy Love burning in our hearts will teach us ever new ways and means to please the Lord. We should not be satisfied with being good: we should be Saints, great saints, in the manner most pleasing to God (Scr I, 657). Let us become Saints, truly so. We have very little time to work at it, and then we shall have God to enjoy for ever (Scr I, 386).
- I have an ardent desire to make of myself a great Saint, without further delay. Help me by your advice and by your prayer. Teach me the way of running speedily to my Lord (to Don A. Bosio, Scr I, 419).
DAY 2: Saints wherever we are (p. 15)
The graces that the Lord is showering on you so abundantly show that God wants to do great things in your life. Let God guide you as He pleases; you will see that you will everywhere find the means to become a Saint. Place yourself, like a little child, in the loving arms of your dear Father and gentle Spouse; let Him alone look after you, and He will comfort you, as you will see (Scr I, 213-214). We can become saints in any state-in-life (ib, 94). The Devil at times puts a thousand thoughts, desires and worries in our head, making us think another state-in-life is better and meanwhile he weakens the will to live and act in the actual one and so neglect our duties…take new courage to live in your present circumstances (Scr I, 197-198).
- I have understood how important it is to give heed to inspirations, for many times it is on them that the beginning of holiness-of-life depends (Scr III, 36).
DAY 3: We can grow in holiness through little deeds (p. 17)
I reflected on how much God is pleased when we value good little things and carry out our little duties with the utmost care not just in carrying them out but also in the time, way and place fixed for them. I have realized that when we go about our duties in that manner, we truly act for God’s sake alone and also avoid many defects of pride, of self-complacency, and that we thus meet with God’s delight (Scr III, 114). To make things easier for me, God provides simple, easy means to put me on the path of holiness (ib, 24). for perfection does not consist in doing many things but in doing them well (ib, 21).
- I will set a high value on little things. I want to make sure that all my actions are holy; No more do I want to miss so many opportunities to do good (Scr III, 115, 216).
DAY 4: God’s grace is at work where there is sincere acknowledgement of our limits (p. 38)
My prayerful wish for you, dear Sister, is that your heart be entirely owned by Jesus: a heart that loves, seeks, desires and longs for Jesus and rest in Him alone, and that you may become not just a Saint but a great Saint and soon a Saint. For this I wish you a solid foundation of humility. Meanwhile, go deep into the knowledge of your utter helplessness, and in your self-estimation count yourself as the least of all. This is the first step to sanctity (Scr I, 199). It is an exceptional grace to have a true notion of yourself so as to humble yourself, and to have a true notion of God so as to love Him. Be glad if you are poor; God is richness itself and he will enrich you (Scr I, 224).
- I resolve to build up my holiness on the solid foundation of holy humility. From Jesus Crucified I will seek to acquire true humility (Scr III, 211, 62).
DAY 5: Holiness consists in living with the Lord the mysteries of his life (p.19)
Let us live at the feet of our Crucified Love: there we shall learn everything; there we shall be head over heels in love, there we shall become Saints (Scr I, 217). May he be pleased to let us suffer with him and also to rise with him to an utterly-holy life (ib, 361). How sweet is the yoke of the Lord, how light is the burden of his laws, and how loveable He himself is! May his Holy Will be ours, may the virtues he taught us by his own example be dear to us, and let us be eager to become Saints (ib, 290).
- To do everything possible, suffer everything and even shed their Blood for the good of their neighbour could be considered as a distant imitation of the consuming love of our Redeemer in dying for us (CF 14).
DAY 6: Let us be on our guard against our self-centred tendencies (p.81)
I have also realized the great courage I will need to follow the path of perfection …God comforted me by reminding me that He would always be there with me and help me, and that he himself would bring about my salvation (Scr III, 27). I realized that the devil is very adept at making us commit small defects in order to draw us into his snare (ib, 114).
- I will wage war on my self-love and my pride: unless I get rid of it I will never attain to perfection (Scr III, 209).
DAY 7: Let us walk together towards holiness (p.95)
I am greatly indebted to you for the regard you have for me. May this affection for each other make both of us Saints by means of mutual admonishment,encouragement and advice (Scr I, 28). A visit from you will serve to encourage each other to love our most gentle Spouse more deeply, to detach ourselves from all worldly things, to practise Christian virtues suited to our state in life and to advance in Christian perfection (ib, 34). In that way the two of us will be one in the miost Sweet Heart of our Divine Spouse. May it be pleasing to Him that by His grace both of us will succeed in becoming Saints (ib, 619).
- I also beg you to warn me and correct me in those defects that you find in me. Do it without any human respect, for charity’s sake, and as a result of a true, spiritual friendship (Scr 1, 620).
DAY 8: Bartolomea points out to us our specific “way to holiness” (CF14)
I have had sentiments of deep gratitude to God as I realized how many graces he grants me to make me a saint. I strongly felt my Jesus urging me to strive after holiness by means of charity towards my neighbour. It seemed to me he was very pleased when I promised him I would spare no pains in that holy exercise (Scr III, 67). I realized that genuine perfection consists in love of God and neighbour (ib, 129).
- I seem to have understood that Our Lord will be very pleased if I engage myself as much as I can for the good of others, especially for their spiritual good, but that I should do everything for God alone; charity will thus never be separated from humility nor from prayer (Scr III, 72).
DAY 9: The Saint among the Saints walks ever at our side (Gaudete, p.120)
Dear Child and Mummy, before your Cradle I now kneel. Here I will learn how to love God, how to serve Him faithfully, in a word, how to become a saint. Look on me with eyes of kindness and compassion, and graciously hear my supplications. Dear Child, for the sake of your Infancy give also to me a holy spiritual infancy, whereby just like a child I may have no will, intellect, desire, except for what God wills. Give me the grace to be born again with you to a spiritual and devout life – the grace to love you and make others love you (Scr III, 740, 741, 732).
- Mary, Mother! Look after this daughter of yours; make me a saint, a great saint, soon a saint (Scr III, 738, 739).
Prepare our hearts to receive the Holy Spirit with the fullness of His gifts (ib, 736).
“With special tenderness I felt in my heart that the Institute should really be called the Institute of the Redeemer … I seemed to me that God wishes it to be called by that particular name to teach those who consecrate themselves to it, the way to holiness” (CF 14).
– Suore di Carità delle sante B. Capitanio e V. Gerosa – Milano, casa generalizia 2018