Blessed Anthony Grassi
Anthony's father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father's devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony's final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.
Nothing provides a better reason for reassessing a life than a brush with death. Anthony's life already seemed to be on track when he was struck by lightning; he was a brilliant priest blessed, at last, with serenity. But his experience softened him. He became a loving counselor and a wise mediator. The same might be said of us if we put our hearts to it. We needn't wait to be struck by lightning.
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
To be present is to arrive as one is and open up to the other.
"I am free."
Help me Lord to be more conscious of your presence. Teach me to recognise your presence in others. Fill my heart with gratitude for the times Your love has been shown to me through the care of others.
The Word of God Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. R. Alleluia, alleluia. This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. Conversation Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.
Conclusion Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
3rd Week of Advent
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him. (Matthew 1:24)
Many of us know George Bailey as the main character in the classic film It's a Wonderful Life. This beloved movie tells the story of Bailey's crisis of faith. When a rival steals his bank deposit, Bailey faces the prospect of imprisonment and comes close to throwing himself off of a bridge. But an angel named Clarence appears and shows him what life would have been like for other people if he had never been born. Seeing the positive impact he has had on so many, Bailey changes his mind.
Joseph also went through a moment of crisis. Hearing about Mary's surprise pregnancy, he must have wondered what God was up to. How could this happen to the most virtuous woman in Israel? He was ready to give up the whole idea, but he too had a visit from an angel, who convinced him to trust in God's plan. Imagine how different things would have been if Joseph had said no!
What would the world look like if you had never been born? Perhaps it seems like a pointless reflection, but there are people who count on you in this world. And not because of what you do for them but because of who you are. It may be your friendly manner, your smile, or your patience that puts them at ease. You are one way they have—sometimes the only way—of meeting Christ in the flesh.
Take it a little further. In a sense, your presence has eternal consequences. You may be the one who steers someone toward God, perhaps someone who is at the point of giving up or never had any faith to begin with. Even if you don't see it yourself, you are part of the invisible glue that holds things together in your parish or church community. There are a lot of bricks in a wall, and each one is important. Those people you influence will influence other people. And so on, and so on.
So as you venture out today, thank the Lord for blessing you with the gift of yourself!
"Lord, thank you for the gift of life. Today, in my small corner of the world, give me a chance to show someone how big your love is!"