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.

Saturday, March 08, 2003
First Sunday of Lent (B)

The Readings
Genesis 9:8-15 God's covenant with Noah
Psalm 25 Your ways O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
1 Peter3:18-22 Deliverance of Noah from the flood prefigures baptism.
Mark 1:12-25 Jesus is tempted in the desert.

St. Gaspar
In the Holy Scriptures, he asserts that he only permits us to be tempted in order to allow us the opportunity for gaining merits for heaven. Furthermore, that it is not possible for him to abandon anyone who confides in him, who loves him tenderly or who is in concordance with the desires of his most gentle heart. Yes. What wrong one does against God by being immoderately fearful of Lucifer's assaults. We are fragile, weak reeds, that is true; but, the powerful right arm of the Omnipotent God makes us become robust plants with the power to gallantly resist the complete fury of the winds. The whole Gospel message and the life of our Lord inspires us to have nothing other than Christian confidence, generosity of heart and magnanimity of soul.

Reflection
At the beginning of Jesus ministry we hear a whisper of a future conflict. Straight from the waters of his baptism in the Jordan, hearing the words, "This is my beloved," he is immediately thrust into the desert.

There is a hint of the future. The reign of God will be opposed as is evidenced by the handing over of John. Soon Jesus will begin speaking about his own "handing over" but the disciples never seem to want to listen to that. They are not aware, or they forget, that this conflict is the prelude to the whole contest. All too soon, Jesus himself will targeted for this "handing over."

Jesus had to be prepared for this contest, so the "Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him."

The wilderness, reputed to be the home of darkness and disorder, and wild beasts, symbols of the foreign, the alien and the strange: It is in the very home of evil that evil is overcome. It is not by being taken away from evil that evil is conquered, it is mastered in the midst of the disorder and the darkness, and the very strange bestial forms become symbols of the new age. In the messianic new age, these evil, bestial forces will have no power. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

Jesus enters into Galilee with great confidence, not beaten down by the desert experience, but strong and direct in his proclamation of the Gospel. St. Gaspar wants us to rise from our deserts with the same confidence. Temptation will not defeat us if we depend with ever growing confidence of the Redeemer.

We profess to be followers of Christ. We profess to be in him, to be the elect. Experience has taught us, as it taught the early disciples, that we will be faced with disappointments, disagreements and even defeat. We start our experience of spring by proclaiming that there will be an end to this winter of defeat, just as there was an end to Jesus' 40 days in the desert. The Temptations and the tests will pass. We can expect no more than Jesus received. We expect that because of our basic life decision in Jesus for God, that, at the bare minimum, we will be handed over to the court of public opinion.

But we enter these 40 days, nonetheless, because we are in Jesus. And it is time to face the choice again. To whom does our life belong? Will we be victim of every defeat and disappointment, or will our lives become signs of the covenant that is between God and us and every living creature....; and the waters shall never again become a [sign of a] flood to destroy all flesh,"(Gen.9:15) but rather a sign of new birth into this Christ who is victorious over every test, even death itself.

• How do my actions show that my life has been handed over to Jesus?
• Where in my life do I need to make room for St. Gaspar’s confidence?
• Where might I express in my words and actions that evil has been overcome?




posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 7:41 PM link
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Letter 46

(I am posting the entire Letter because it has much to teach us about the Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent. The italicized verses are quotations from Scripture or other Latin texts. You might want to compare this letter with
letter 62.)

February-April, 1813
Countess Lucrezia Ginnasi
Imola

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

Esteemed Countess
The life of people on this earth is a continuous war and a continuous struggle: The life of man on earth is a warfare.. Still, one must not at all lose heart nor spirit since the most merciful God does not fail to be propitiously helpful and to watch over us with a very special fatherly love. The souls that are dearest to him, his favorite daughters, are those who especially sustain the battles raised by the enemy, just as in an army camp the most valiant soldiers are those who display the greatest bravery. A ship, laden with precious cargo, is much more subject to piratical greed; a soul that is hurrying toward the heights of perfection like a swift stag is more besieged by the infernal predator. Indeed, how deceived are those doers of good who, bewildered by trials, encourage the one who is assailing them. Instead of showing themselves to be vigorous and intrepid, they display timidity and weakness of soul. Oh let us revive our faith and let us reflect that our Leader, under whose banner we fight, is Jesus our Redeemer and Teacher. Let us observe how he brings comfort, how he gives us courage and how he supplies us with the armament that equips us for a triumphant victory over the devil. So, of whom should we be fearful, of whom be worried or be afraid? Oh martyrs of the early Church, oh holy hermits and champions of our faith, deign to obtain for us that enlightenment that is necessary for understanding ... something that our great God wants us to have, just as you showed in facing all those diabolical attacks.

In the Holy Scriptures, he asserts that he only permits us to be tempted in order to allow us the opportunity for gaining merits for heaven. Furthermore, that it is not possible for him to abandon anyone who confides in him, who loves him tenderly or who is in concordance with the desires of his most gentle heart. Yes. What wrong one does against God by being immoderately fearful of Lucifer's assaults. We are fragile, weak reeds, that is true; but, the powerful right arm of the Omnipotent God makes us become robust plants with the power to gallantly resist the complete fury of the winds. The whole Gospel message and the life of our Lord inspires us to have nothing other than Christian confidence, generosity of heart and magnanimity of soul.

Therefore, you can see that all those things that are opposite and which disturb the imagination are nothing but diabolical annoyances over which we must be victorious. The Psalmist cries out: Serve the Lord in joy; exult, you just, in the Lord, strong praise is becoming the upright. Let us remember these truths and we will see clearly that anything that opposes those teachings comes only from the enemy of our souls. God is infallible truth; it is impossible for him to contradict himself. Sadness and confusion is proper to one whose soul is burdened with sin, but not to one who enjoys the avowal of a clean conscience. If in the past, we have offended the Lord, it is he who first repeated those beautiful words: A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not despise., ; he is the one who first lovingly extended his arms out to us and invited us to find rest in his sweetest Heart. With his merciful help, we have responded. So, what more can we expect if not the most exquisite touches of his ineffable love? I have loved with an everlasting love; therefore, taking pity, I have drawn you, etc.

Oh soul, do you need to have any more certain proofs of my love other than those that you continuously receive along with so many interior graces? With so many opportunities to grow in holiness? With so many visits that I have with you at the Eucharistic table? These favors which you receive willingly, which you cherish in your heart, I want you to know, are the way to even greater gifts, to greater blessings, to a greater experience of the sweetness of my ineffable clemency! Established in grace, you are the object of my delight: You have wounded my heart., you are more beautiful than the sun, whiter than snow, and oh how I long to enrich you even more by readying you for the heavenly Jerusalem! Are these not most effective reasons for filling you with a magnanimous fortitude so that you do not fear too greatly the attacks that the threefold enemy continually wages against you?

Oh soul, so highly blessed by me, (the Lord continues to speak) remember that I am with you in your struggles against Lucifer; and still you wish to remain in a state of fatal discouragement as though you did not have sufficient trust in your heavenly Father, your Benefactor, your God? It is true that the Hebrew people had to wander for a long time to reach the promised land. But, were they lacking in the necessary means to accomplish it? Did they not fight against their enemies and see continuous miraculous things happen in their favor?

And, oh soul, do you not still have that mystical column of cloud and fire which strikes terror in Lucifer and which directs you through the darkness of this miserable world, that is to say, the Crucified Lord? Do you not have that heavenly manna, the bread of angels, the sacrament of love, which gives you strength to combat and to elude the devil's trickery? Do you not have those mystical trumpets of Jericho which levelled that city to the ground, that is to say, do you not have all the means that our faith provides for us in bringing down those walls, namely, those obstacles that the demon sets up on the way to our salvation? St. Francis de Sales said that "temptations of any kind at all disturb us because we think about them and fear them too much. We are too sensitive so that just as quickly as we have the least contrary thought to our resoluteness, it appears that the whole structure is going to collapse. Let us allow the winds to blow and let us not think that the fluttering of leaves is the sound of weaponry."

The resolution (de Sales continues) to not give in to any sin, even the smallest one, assures us that we are in the grace of God ... ; and it is right to hold for certain that all those thoughts that disquiet us are not from God, who is the prince of peace". In short, that abhorrence and that nausea that one experiences at the presence of those infernal suggestions is nothing other than the effect of the grace that is at work in our hearts, to which we submit with docility. Let us listen to what that great master of spirituality, Fr. Granata, says: "The devil will put into your heart perverse and abominable thoughts; but, do not pay any heed to them; quickly close the eyes of your soul and do not look at them; they are more effectively conquered by disregarding them than by making anything of them. Do not ever give room for the evil one to upset you". And, de Sales adds: "Do not at all allow yourself to reason with the devil and he will soon tire of shouting and will leave you in peace; do not get involved in fighting temptation with dialogue or argument, but simply turn your heart to Jesus. It is a very good sign when the devil starts rapping sharply and raging fiercely at the door, for it indicates that he is not attaining what he would like... As long as the temptation is displeasing to us, there is nothing to fear, for that displeasure is there because we do not wish to sin".
Each one should conduct himself with the devil as he would with a maniac, paying no attention to him. He is like a mastiff who can bark indeed, but cannot bite except the one who is willing to place himself in his power. St. Jerome, with reference to the words that the devil addressed to Christ ("throw thyself down") when he was taken to the pinnacle of the temple, tempting him by trying to convince him to throw himself down, says: That is the devil's word, for he would like everyone to throw themselves and plunge downwards. Still, It is possible to persuade, it is not possible to cast down.. He can, indeed, urge us but he is unable to bring us to ruin without our willing it. Therefore, please note, says St. Bernard, how really weak our enemy is who can only win over a soul who wills to be conquered: See, brothers, how weak is our enemy, who conquers no one except the willing

So, is it not confusion of mind to be overly fearful of the devil's insidiousness? When our will is determined to love God, to confide in him, can it not then repeat with Paul: Who will separate me from the love of Christ, etc? And, oh what great rewards are reserved in heaven after we have achieved a full victory over our common tempter: Blessed the man who endures temptation, because when he has been tested he will receive the crown of life. At that time we will know quite a bit better the great good that the Lord has done for us in testing us in the fires of tribulation. We can then do no more than bless the moments of our lives in which we have fought bravely.

Courage, then, and let us imitate the bravery of David against the giant; let us not allow ourselves to be defeated by Lucifer because of exaggerated fear; let us be prepared for battle with just a few stones, that is, the virtues that are opposed to the devil's allurements; let us use them with dauntlessness of spirit and we shall attain that longed-for goal of rest, one day, in the kingdom of Paradise. Amen. Meanwhile, I remain

Your humble servant
Gaspare del Bufalo, Apostolic Missionary



posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 7:19 PM link
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