40. LORD, YOU SAID: YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN THE SPARROWS...
Retreat, Mother House, Alba, Piazza S. Paolo, June 1947
Repeat often the invocation: Lord, you said, 'you are worth more than the sparrows,' give us our nest as well.1
It is not because we desire to be better off, but because we desire to serve the Lord properly, better, even in those outward arrangements that will contribute to it.
Let us have a meditation on the house under construction, in order to make us more worthy of this grace of God.
To have the house, there must be:
1. Right intention. Right is that intention which aims solely at God's glory, the spiritual well-being of the persons and the advancement of the religious life.
Have the desire for the house to fill it with merits, good works, virtuous acts, fruitful apostolate, sacred songs.
Desire it so as to use it for a greater and better observance of poverty and religious life.
Do not have aims which are not divine.
Jesus was born in the cave of Bethlehem. There was no central heating system, no faucets with running water, no soft beds to rest on, not even a little cradle for him. There was nothing of material riches there, but there were to be found Our Lady and St. Joseph with the incarnate Son of God. Thus, that miserable cave became the richest shrine in the world, the temple that housed the greatest treasures.
Your house shall be beautiful, not in proportion to the marbles or works of sculpture there, but in proportion to the holy persons who will dwell therein and of the good that will be accomplished.
Beginning from Bethlehem, the Son of God began to sing the glory of the Heavenly Father. The angels hurried to join in the singing1 and Mary and Joseph participated in that perfect praise and purest intention.
The Son of God willed to take everything from human beings. In the Eucharist, he continues to receive from his creatures the bread that is transformed into his Body.
Jesus is the model of religious life; indeed, he is called the religious of the Father.
The more we seek after and find comfort, the more we place ourselves in the danger of getting away from religious life. In the circumstances which are not depending on our will, we can make use even of beautiful things, but we must use them with a real sense of detachment.
The child Jesus had to abandon that same poor hut which had seen him came into the world. In fact, the Angel warned Joseph: Get up, take the child and his mother and flee... Herod is searching for the child to kill him.1 They did not go to their own country, they could not return there. Jesus was a victim of political persecution and he fled as a refugee in Egypt, a foreign land. Art and legend depict the Holy Family under a tree, or looking for alms and work.
When the danger caused by Herod had passed, they returned to Nazareth1 where Mary had a small house, the house of the Annunciation. Jesus spent his private life here for 30 years. It was a poor little house, miserable and bare, but full of spiritual treasures, sacred songs, enlivened with the recitation of the psalms, prayer, virtuous acts, silence and made precious by the most pure love of God.
It was the house where Mary spent her humble days in prayer and silence, sewing, spinning, cleaning the house, busying herself with the most common and hidden chores.
Domus mea, domus orationis.2 House of prayer and of work.
Therefore, this is how you should long for your house: so as to pray, to become better, to observe the religious life better and to carry out the apostolate more fittingly.
When someone has to leave it afterwards, to go to another place and to take up other task, she leaves without too much regret.
Jesus did it also when he began his public life. He left Nazareth and went to Capernaum,1 which can be likened to a branch house. Here and elsewhere, he gathered his Apostles and ministered to the crowds.
In his public life, Jesus was very poor. He would say: Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.2
Generally, it is necessary to leave one's own family in order to fulfill the apostolate more effectively. The relatives almost always constitute an impediment, since they reason things out from another point of view and they acquire their holiness in a different way.
The religious on the other hand, does not have private interests. She seeks for and takes care of Jesus' interests; she has a sole aspiration: that of Jesus, her Bridegroom!
While making Capernaum as the center, Jesus set out from there to carry out his apostolate in the various places of Palestine, being a guest here or there. It was particularly in Bethany that he found much devotion and affection, however, he was not wel-comed with such hospitality everywhere!
He received everything as alms and he could say of every thing: 'this is not mine'. He accepted everything for his use and he showed how grateful he was. Gratitude is a great virtue, both when we express it to God and to our neighbour.
Many times at night, Jesus would go out to the mountains and spent the hours in prayer.1
Always unite yourself to God. What counts most is the heart, not the house we live in, not the name, dignity, title or religious habit. What counts is carrying out God's will and being united to him.
Be watchful of the right intention, otherwise the walls will not go up!
2. Practice poverty. Observe poverty, so that the Lord may send the bricks, iron bars, cement, money for the payment and everything that is needed.
It is poverty practiced individually and socially. May the community be also poor, but not miserable and disorderly and has nothing superfluous or elegant.
Put everything that you have which is beautiful at the service of Jesus. He who is the creator of everything has the right to receive all honor and glory. We, instead, merit nothing.
Try to see if you have anything contrary to the religious spirit, anything that is superfluous. Try to see if you favour mainly the natural family which you left or the religious family which accepted you. Examine yourselves if you have an excessive interest for your relatives. Be interested of them, certainly, but do it in prayer and in other ways, in so far as it is allowed by the Consti-tutions and in perfect submission to obedience.
Focus now all your strength, activities and heart on the Congregation.
If your practice poverty properly, the Lord sends his Provi-dence.
If you take good care of the sick, the Lord looks after the healthy.
Remember, however, that to possess certain superfluity can send away many good means from the Institute. The more one strips herself of what is not necessary, the more the height of the walls shall increase.
3. Let everybody contribute according to each one's possi-bilities. Contribute with prayer, by looking for benefactors, with the means at your disposal, with more production in the apostolate.
There are Sisters who are very capable to work and to obtain.
Such work, however, always begin from sincere humility, from the conviction of deserving nothing and is accompanied by a lot of prayer.
Lord, you said: 'you are worth more than the sparrows'..1
1 Cf. Lk. 12, 24.
1 Cf. Lk. 2, 14.
1 Cf. Mt. 2, 13.
1 Cf. Mt. 2, 23.
2 Lk. 19, 46.
1 Cf. Mt. 4, 13.
2 Cf. Lk. 9, 58.
1 Cf. Lk. 6, 12.
1 Cf. Lk. 12, 24.