The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Greetings from little Donaldson, IN. Our Priesthood and Brother candidates in Advanced Formation will be on retreat here for the next few days as we prepare for the opening of the Fall quarter. Prayers for them this week would be greatly appreciated.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 7:10 PM link
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Daily message from Blogger: "Error 503: Unable to load template file. We're working on this. Please try back later.[more info]"

The problem is that they have been working on this for weeks, and the info available is not helpful. Any other Bloggers out there having difficulty with this?

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:48 AM link
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It seems the only thing around here that inspires any conversation is the passion some feel for the on-going war in Iraq, or my critique of the ideologies apparent in some Catholic writers on the National Review. Silence ensues on the more particular Gasparian stuff. So I just posted one of Gaspar’s more significant letters, Letter 62. I’d love to sit in on a conversation on this letter. With more than 100 people stopping by each day, there must be a few of you out there with some responses or feelings about the letter.

What did you like about the letter?

What did you find challenging or difficult?

How did the letter make you feel?

Do you have to wait to feel courageous before you can BE courageous?

Do Gaspar’s images make sense?

What would be courageous actions in our own day?

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:45 AM link
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This is probably one of Gaspar's more significant letters. The fact that he wrote this while imprisoned in one of Napolean's worst prisons makes the letter all the more stunning. When St. Gaspar quoted Scripture he quotes from the Latin Vulgate common at his time. Translations are in the footnotes.

April 29, 1813
Countess Lucrezia Ginnasi (1)

The grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be always with us. Amen.
Esteemed Countess

Pusillanimity of spirit is one of the principal obstacles which the devil, the enemy of good, places on the way to perfection in his attempt, if it were possible, to weaken the fervor that lies in the many souls who serve God, thus gradually leading them sometimes even to despair and to an abandonment of the path of virtue and evangelical holiness. It seems to me that our common tempter proceeds by imitating the different ways that hunters use to catch what they are stalking. At times, these men seek to snare birds by industriously trying to copy the harmonious sound of their bird calls, thus drawing them into their nets; at other times, they attack them with the blasts of their muskets; finally, at other times, they make use of various types of reeds, cleverly woven so that they will succeed in what they have set out to do. In a word, they simply adapt themselves to the conditions of their location as well as to the nature of the animals that they hope to capture. Now, the devil acts in a similar way: he entices sinners with an unhappy attraction to the miserable goods of this world; and, with fiery weapons, he hurls himself at the just so as to put them in a state of confusion, fear and anguish, thereby seeking to take possession of their hearts. In order to overtake a doe that speedily flees into a forest, the hunter first strikes it with arrows or darts so that, once wounded, it will run more slowly or it will stop altogether. In that case, the hunter will arrive and finish it off once and for all. Lucifer keeps telling himself that a soul that is making great strides toward perfection can never be captured unless, through pusillanimity, he can get it to lose that great speed that it has in its progress to virtue, and thereafter be able to produce in it a nausea towards evangelical holiness, causing it to fall into his power through sin. Circuit quaerens quem devoret; cui resistite fortes in fide. (2)

Woe to those souls who allow themselves to be deceived by this monster and, because of their weak trust in God, fall into tepidity and into sin! Miserable and unhappy, how deplorable is their condition! As far as I am concerned, I can never be sufficiently satisfied in continuously inculcating in the minds of good people that they must score a convincing victory over excessive timidity, over languidness of spirit, over that pernicious pusillanimity that not only stymies one's progress toward virtue, but even causes one to gradually lose determination to serve God. I am only too well aware of the grave damage that actually results therefrom. But, really, what is the source of that deadly pusillanimity? It has its origin in a certain kind of diffidence toward the Lord, fused into the soul by the devil, to which many virtuous souls faintheartedly yield. In order to repair that evil, let us see how displeasing diffidence is to the Lord and how efficacious, on the contrary, is holy confidence in his divine goodness to provide special helps and unusual graces. At this point, let it be understood well that I am speaking here of those souls that are already in sanctifying grace and who are concerned only with growing in sanctity and perfection. As for the false confidence (which is substantially presumption) that is found in those people who are obstinately dominated by sin, it is not my intention to speak of now at all. So, let us delve into the development of this very interesting topic, even though we have treated it on other occasions. It is a subject that is very conducive to building up the spirit of generous Christian magnanimity, upon which advancement and progress in virtue depends.

Sacred Scripture narrates that when Moses sent scouts to the land of promise, they returned frightened and told the people that they had seen certain strong giants who stood before them as numerous as locusts. Likewise, that they had seen certain well fortified cities, surrounded by walls and towers that would be impossible to enter. With that report, such a feeling of dismay and great diffidence fell over the people that they were convinced that they would be unable to conquer the land of promise and that they should already look for a leader among their number who could conduct them back to Egypt. God was greatly upset with the people and said to Moses: "When, if ever, will this people come to believe and trust in me, even though they have seen so many signs and wonders that I have done for them? I will send a pestilence upon them and I will destroy them all at one time". Then Moses intervened and begged God to pardon them. God said to him: "Because of your love, I will pardon them, but all those who have seen the prodigies and the signs that I performed in Egypt and afterwards in the desert ... and have not believed nor trusted in me, will not enter into the promised land; I assure you that not one of them will see it with his own eyes." But more. Even Moses and Aaron themselves, in striking the rock, doubted whether it would supply water, and received from God the same chastisement because of their diffidence. So let us argue as follows. God, in his infinite mercy, has liberated us from slavery to Lucifer by means of holy Baptism by which our enemies, figuratively speaking, were submerged into those saving waters and he has led us into blessed freedom as his children and heirs to his kingdom. After he has cleansed us in this sacred bath, he has pointed out to us the heavenly Jerusalem. Thereupon, in sweet transports of love he has cried out to us that one day we would be admitted there to be inebriated with unspeakable delights. I myself in giving you the law will be the way that will lead you to that blessed place of sojourn: Ego sum via. (3) I will be the trustworthy leader who will keep on instructing you along the course of that journey: Ego sum veritas. (4)I myself will be your life, nourishing you with heavenly gifts so that you will be fully satisfied in this sweetest of homelands: Ego sum vita ... satiabor cum apparuerit gloria tua. (5) While passing through the desert of this miserable world, you will encounter dangers, obstacles, inconveniences; you will have to suffer for love of me as well as for your own good. But, do not be fearful, for as long as you are docile to my loving invitations, my infinite mercy, like a devoted mother who takes her child in her arms so that it will not perish in going through difficult situations, will reach out to you with its almighty right hand and will guide you to the happy goal of your journey. Justum deduxit Dominus per vias rectas; et ostendi illi regnum Dei. (6)

Oh my children, do not become terrified; you have a Father capable of everything, who wishes all to be for your well being. You will not be lacking in prodigies that will be a testimony of his love; you cannot at all be doubtful of his desire to see all of you saved forever; indeed, you must be convinced that his fidelity in fulfilling his promises is incontestable. Of whom, therefore, should you be afraid? Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos? (7)So, do not grieve the heart of God with vain, prejudicial fears, with diffidence, with pusillanimity because in doing that, you offer an insult to his infinite love. Rather, repeat with the Apostle: Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat; ... non ego sed gratis Dei mecum. (8)

A wise and moderate prince assured one of his subjects his continual assistance and proved it with his deeds. Would it not be an insufferable rashness if, on some occasion, the subject were to exhibit doubts concerning the kindness of that prince? Well, then, what ought to be said about our great God, infallible Truth, who on innumerable occasions in the Scriptures, assures us of his protection and urges us to trust in him, and, in fact, even commands it? Oh how can a creature allow himself to be dominated by dejection or languidness of spirit! You, oh soul, you by yourself (writes a great ascetic) will never be good for anything; but, with God's assistance you will be like a zero in mathematics: no matter how often you multiply a zero, the result is always zero; but, add units to them and they become thousands and millions. God, added to your nothingness, will change you and make you a totality of omnipotence. To be sure, why did the Lord always select the weak, the unlearned, those despised in the eyes of the world for his greatest undertakings, if not to banish from our hearts every feeling of diffidence, filling them with holy trust in his divine power? Confortamini in Domino, et in potentia virtutis eius! (9)

Cast a glance at Moses who was sent before the Pharaoh; a look at David who was destined to fight against the giant; see the Apostles who promulgated the sacred Gospel, ... then, let me know if allowing oneself to be overtaken by excessive timidity and pusillanimity is or is not a great wrong against the Almighty and an evident proof that one has not sufficiently acknowledged the amiability of his heart. Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos? (10)

The Israelites, encamped between Pi-hahiroth and Baal-zephon, were oppressed by an extreme case of despair. On two sides was the desert, in front of them the sea, behind them a very powerful army. How much better, they kept saying, how much better it would have been if we had remained in Egypt! We had chains on our feet but at least we did not have death staring us in the face. No, said Moses. Do not be afraid; wait and you will see the great deeds that the Lord will do for you on this very day. Then, the sea parted and the waters formed, as it were, two walls, leaving in the center a dry pathway for their march. An angel took his place at the rear to protect them from that angle; a column of light illuminated their course, while a column of dense mist covered up all the light in order to cause the enemy to be in darkest night. Nevertheless, the Egyptians followed in the footsteps of the Israelites who triumphantly crossed to the opposite shore. Then, behold how the former were completely inundated by the waves. In the same way does the Lord act when he wishes to demonstrate his mercy, and he will do so also for us, oh souls redeemed at the price of living blood; so, do not be doubtful. Are difficulties encountered while in service to God? Then God will open a way through that sea; he will take away those obstacles. Keep going ahead, you will have no impediments. You have behind you all the demons of hell pursuing you, very vehement temptations that threaten you with destruction. But, Nolite timere. (11)God will arrest their fury and will lead you to a place of rest. In your defense, your holy advocates watch over you: your Guardian Angel is there to assist you; Mary most holy spreads her mantle of protection over you; Jesus Crucified extends his open arms to you. He waits to welcome you in the sacrament of Penance; he comes to meet you, nourish you and strengthen you in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Already he holds out to you the indestructible crown of glory that will make you eternally happy. What more could you wish for? In your difficulties, so de Sales asserts, repeat frequently to yourself that this is the road that leads to heaven. I see the port and I am certain that the storms will not be able to stop me from reaching it. The greater your misery, so much greater will be the triumph of divine goodness. So, with courage, you must place your total trust in him: Abyssus miseriae, invocat abyssum misericordiae. (12)(Segneri).

The aforementioned St. Francis de Sales, writing to a lady, says the following: "I ask you to build up your courage with the confidence that you must have in our Lord who has loved you and has humbly invited you to his service. He loves you now as you continue in it and he will keep on loving you by granting you perseverance. I certainly do not know how souls who have surrendered themselves to divine goodness cannot help but be always happy, since where can there be happiness equal to this? Neither should the imperfections you commit alarm you, in the sense that we do not wish to dwell on them, nor should our affections lead up to become enmeshed therein. So, be very calm and live in gentleness and humility of heart."

From all this, we learn how we are to conduct ourselves on the way to perfection; let us imitate the example of the first martyrs and the Apostles who were filled so generously with holy confidence in God.

However, to stimulate ourselves even more in this regard, let us pause a bit to consider the special favors that God grants to those souls who trust greatly in him. In this way, we seek to set this truth deeply rooted within our hearts, despite the assaults of our common tempter.

Remember, oh Christian soul, says the noted Alphonsus Rodriguez, that if you trust greatly in God and hope for great things from him, he will grant you great things and do so to your benefit. If you hope for lesser things, you will receive less. In the holy Gospels, we have many examples that show this. Let us select two of them. The leader in the synagogue who had left his dying daughter said: Lord, my daughter has just died, but, come there and place your hand on her and she will return to life. This man had that sort of faith and confidence, since it appeared to him that it was necessary for the Lord to go to the place and then lay hands on her. In that manner, he believed that his daughter would be brought back to life. The Redeemer of the world acted in accordance with that confidence shown by the man; he goes there and, finding her dead, takes her by the hand and revives her. On the other hand, the Centurion, who had in his household a servant who was paralyzed, had more faith than the other man. He approached the Redeemer of the world and said: Lord, my servant lies in bed, a paralytic, but it is not necessary for you to go there in order to heal him, nor that he come here at your feet: sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur puer meus. (13) Jesus Christ admired him and said to those who were following him: Truly, I say to you, I have not found such faith in Israel. Then, turning to the Centurion he said: Be it done according to your faith. He trusted Christ to the extent that, by only saying a word, he would be able to cure him immediately and that is precisely how it took place. Sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur puer meus (13).

That is how God works with us, in accordance with the trust we place in him. The Prophet David says: Fiat misericordia tua Domine super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te. (14) Depending on the depth that our vase of confidence has, to that extent will it be able to hold water, as one great servant of God used to say. This same thing happened with the Apostle St. Peter when Christ our Lord bade him to come to him on the water; as long as he did not fear, he walked on the waves of the sea as though he were walking on solid around. When he began to be fearful, watching the violent wind blow, he suddenly began to sink. So, Christ reprimanded him for having so little faith: Modicae fidei quare dubitasti? (15) Man of little faith, why did you doubt? thus having him realize that it was because he feared and became diffident that he began to sink. This is the reason why, at times, it seems that we are sinking and perishing in temptations, in trials, in our work allowing ourselves to be deluged by a fatal depression of spirit. In the 90th psalm, the Lord claims that there is no other reason for one's protection and liberation in times of distress than to have trusted and believed in him: Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum, protegam eum, quoniam cognovit nomen meum. (16)

St. Bernard, in wonderment, comments on those words: "Oh sweet liberality of God which is never lacking to those who hope and trust in him!" In te speraverunt patres nostri, speraverunt et liberasti eos. (17)Our forefathers, oh Lord, placed their trust in you and you freed them. They had recourse to you and cried out to you and they were saved. They placed in you their entire trust and they were not confounded. Who is it that ever called out to God, placing his trust in him, was not heard and helped by his divine majesty? Nullus speravit in Domino et confusus est. (18)Turn your eyes to all nations and to every century and you will find that no one hoped in God and remained confounded. Quis invocavit eum et despexit illum? (19)To all this, we add that when a man distrusts himself and places all his trust in the Almighty, by this very act he moves the heart of God, as we have said, to be even more concerned to give particular blessings. Why? Because in so doing he comes to an acknowledgment of God's omnipotence and he exercises faith; he acknowledges God's mercy and exercises hope; he acknowledges God's love and exercises charity. In short, he gives glory to the Lord as he should. With this act, he says to the Almighty: My God, by myself I am good for nothing and you alone can console my heart: auxilium meum a Dominum (20) in you alone do I trust: in te Domino speravi; (21) you alone are my refuse in hardships: tu es refugium meum a tribulatione quae circumdedit me. (22)My enemies assail me, but you battle with me, or better said, you ward off their darts; all I have to do is to hide myself in the great tower of defense which is your most sweet Heart, and therein, to allow myself to be governed and directed by you: Domino vim patior responde pro me. (23) What, then, can I fear when I find myself helped by a Father who is total love, total piety, by a Lord who is totally intent on what is best for me and before whom all creatures tremble? My soul, why then are you sad and dejected? Quare tristis es anima mea et quare conturbas me? (24) Hope in the great God and thereby defy all of hell; never allow it to be successful in claiming a victory over you! Spera in Deo quoniam adhuc confitebor illi salutare vultus mei et Deus meus ... Quis me separabit a caritate Christi? (25) The Lord is gladdened by these sweet utterances of the soul and, in seeing his desires and wishes fulfilled, he cannot help but repeat continuously: Viriliter age ... ego ero tecum. (26)I shall always be with you, I shall watch over you as your custodian, and, by allowing you to be subjected to temptation. I will always give you opportunity to gain more palms of victory for blessed eternity where you shall rest forever. Sedebis in pulchritudine pacis et in requie opulenta. (27) Oh what pleasing thoughts are these for encouraging our spirits and for persuading ourselves that opposing attitudes are only the tricks of the devil who is completely against the spirit of our faith.

Therefore, the means to succeed happily in everything that we have said concerning confidence are: 1) to continually pray to the Lord for it; 2) to reflect often on the points that we have spoken of in this article; 3) frequently to exercise, with God's help, those very acts of confidence in the infinite goodness of the Lord and becomefamiliar with them, just as we are familiar with the Credo. In that way, we shall courageously triumph over all the furies of hell. Let us often think of the love of God and we will acquire that very necessary magnanimity of spirit. Amen. In the meantime, I am

Your humble servant

(1)We have assigned April 28, 1813 to this letter since, very probably the "pages" mentioned at the beginning of the previous letter are in reference to these sheets.
(2)He goes about seeking someone to devour - resist him bravely in confidence.
(3)I am the way.
(4)I am the truth.
(5)I am the life. ... I will be satisfied when your glory appears.
(6)The Lord led the just one through right paths; and showed him the kingdom of God.
(7)If God is for us, who is against us?
(8)I can do all things in him who strengthens me; but not I, but the grace of God in me.
(9)Be strengthened in the Lord and in the power of his goodness.
(10)If God is for us, who is against us?
(11)Do not be afraid.
(12)The abyss of misery invokes the abyss of mercy.
(13)But say only the word and my boy will be healed.
(14)May your mercy be over us, O Lord, just as we have overcome in you.
(15)Of little faith, why have you doubted?
(16)Because I hope in myself I will free him and protect him because he knew my name.
(17)Our fathers hoped in you, they hoped and you freed them.
(18)No one has hoped in the Lord and been confounded.
(19)Who called him and despised him?
(20)My help is from the Lord.
(21)I have hoped in the Lord.
(22)You are my refuge from the tribulation which surrounded me.
(23)I am suffering violence for the Lord, answer for me.
(24)Why is my soul sad and why do you disturb me?
(25)Hope in God because I will still be thanking him for the salvation of my countenance, and my God. Who will separate me from the love of Christ?
(26)Act manfully ... I will be with you.
(27)He will sit in the beauty of peace, in splendid rest.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:30 AM link
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