THOUGHT FOR TODAY BY
ST. ANTHONY ZACCARIA
If through perfect humility you will be able to know objec tively yourself, only then will you be.
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Bethlehem, PA 18020
B A R N A B I T E HO L I N E S S
- In search of God
- Called to be “Great Saints”
- The Road to Canonization
- Ordinary/Diocesan Process
- Introduction of the Cause
- Apostolic Process
- Heroic Practice of Virtues or Martyrdom
- From Beatification to Canonization
1500 (XVII Century)
- St. Anthony M. Zaccaria (1502-1539): Founder of the Barnabites, the Angelica, and the Laity of St. Paul
- Ven. Bartholomeo Ferrari (1499-1544): Co-founder Ven. James Anthony Morigia (1497-1546): Co-founder
- St. Alexander Sauli ( 1534-1592): Superior General and Bishop of Aleria (Corsica) and Pavia
- Ven. Charles Bascape (1550-1615): Superior General and Bishop of Novara
- Ven. Gianpiero Besozzi (1503-1584): Superior General, spiritual guide of the first Barnabites
- Ven. Cosimo Dossena (1548-1620): Superior General and Bishop of Tortpna
- Ven. Steven Centnrione (1547-1625): a soldier, and then Bamabite
- Ven. Lndovic Bitoz (1579-1617): a Brother, apostle among the Huguenots in France
- Ven. Diego Martinez (1567-1593): page of Philip II, and then Bamabite novice
- Ven. Justus Guerin (1578-1645): successor of St. Francis de Sales as Bishop of Geneva
1600 (XVII Century)
- Servent of God Raymond Recrosio (1657-1732): Bishop of Nieces, apostle of God's love and of the Sacred Heart
- Ven. Michalengelo Pane (1612-1630): Barnabite student who died during the pestilence of 1630
- VENERABLE BARTHOLOMEW CANALE (1605-1681): author ofascetical works
- Ven. Anthony Mary Pagni (1556-1624): Founder of the Congregation of the Annunciation in Pescia, then Barnabite
1700 (XVIII Century)
- Ven. Francis Castelli (1752-1771): a model of a Barnabite student
- Servent of God Fortunate Redolfi (1777-1859): founder of the oratorios for young people
- Ven. Charles Joseph Fedeli (1712-1736): Barnabite deacon
- Ven. Paul Anthony Nerini (1711-1756): missionary in Burma, and a martyr
- Ven. James Maru Priscolo (1761-1853): a perfect religious and apostle
- St. Francis Xavier M. Bianchi (1743-1815): Apostle of Naples
1800 (XIX Century)
- Ven. Alexander Collareta (1811-1832): Bamabite novice
- Fr. Augustine Schouvaloff (1804-1859): Russian convert, apostle of ecumenism
- VENERABLE CHARLES M. SCHILLING (1835-1907): convert, painter, holy man from Norway
- VENERABLE VITTORIO DE MARINO (1863-1929): medical doctor and exemplar religious
- VENERABLE CESARE BARZAGHI (1863-1941): apostle of Lodi
1900 (XX Century)
- VENERABLE SARAFINO GHIDINI (1902-1924): exemplary Barnabite student
- Servent of God Louis Raineri (1895-1918): Barnabite student victim of the World War I
- Fr. John Semeria (1868-1931): father of the war orphans
- Fr. Francis Castelnuovo (1911-1961): saintly Master of novices and students
- Fr. Erminio Rondini (1895-1943): founder of the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart
Anthony M. Zaccaria summarizes the spiritual drama of his own time in the clash between “lukewarmness” and “fervor.” He felt that what needed to be awakened in the consciousness of his contemporaries was “an energetic spirituality and zealous spirit” (Lt 5, 32). Speaking to the lay people gathered in the Cenacle of Friendship, instituted by him in Cremona, Anthony Mary, with suggestive and passionate strokes, draws a dramatic picture of the “true spiritual life.” With a hammering persistence he invites his first audience: “Therefore, conclude and say: I want to lead a spiritual life, I want to become the same spirit with God... I want to have God always in my heart... and I, as a consequence, would be a member of his kingdom and of his heredity” (Sermon, (Sr) II).
Man achieves spiritual life through the conversion of his heart, Anthony M. Zaccaria dedicates few dense and concrete pages to this subject, always in his instruction to the laity. “You will convert yourself to God” he writes, “by reading part of the Scripture... and...offering a sacrifice...the Most Holy Eucharist” (Sr III). He emphasizes that the Word provides a force which is the force of new life, while the Eucharist provides the nourishment for this new life just born in the heart of man. But so that Word and Bread be efficacious, man has to be condescending. This is the source of the spiritual exercises. For the first generation of Barnabites, Angelics, and the Married of St. Paul it was summed up in two words left them by the “first Father and Founder” of the Paulines, Battista da Crema: Knowledge and victory over oneself, the knowledge of the interior person, of his deepest needs, of his serious limitations, but especially of the work done in him by the Holy Spirit, defined by Anthony Mary with musical terms: “Rhythms and Melodies!” We understand, then, the need for solitude, silence, inferiority, and docile listening which go along with the spiritual exercises.
Once knowledge is achieved, the interior world needs to be beautified, “adorned' as Anthony Mary would say. This implies a committed work of asceticism summarized in the words “victory over oneself.” This implies a “perfect and total victory” over what in man is but fully human, and, therefore, not truly divine. “To fight and to conquer,” Anthony Mary says to the laity in Cremona, “is a great crown,” (Sr V) it is a great triumph.
It is easy to understand how from these premises the Bamabites developed a unique care for spiritual life, promoted among all categories of people, inviting them to the “spiritual exercises,” that is, a series of prayer practices, and to asceticism to achieve the perfection of the interior man.
To reach this goal they provided first of all “masters” of spirituality, rich in interior life and experienced in directing souls. It would be impossible to list all the Bamabites who, highly qualified in the spiritual arts, through patient faithfulness to the confessional and always available for personal dialogue, have directed and guided so many souls toward holiness. It is enough to mention Fr. Charles G. Quadrupani's (1740-1807) book, “Documents for instructions and tranquillity of souls,” fruit of a retreat preached in Turin in 1795.
The Bamabites together with the spiritual provided also ascetical resources to promote interior life. Sometimes they promoted classic texts like the writings of St. Catherine of Siena, Rosmini's “Massime di perfezione” (the first French edition was by the Bamabite Fr. Tondini), or today “The cloud of Unknowing.” Other times they offer their own personal experiences, like Bartholomew Canale (1605-1681), author of a “Spiritual Diary,” a treatise on asceticism which saw many editions.
Besides persons and texts, the Bamabites offer also centers which are specifically set up for the “knowledge and victory” we have talked about. In the old days it was the “convent” of St. Barnabas, where St. Charles Borromeo used to have his annual retreat, or the Carrobiolo in Monza always open for those in search of God. Today we have flourishing centers in Eupilio, Sanzeno, Brussels, Benevides (Brazil), Lewiston and Bethlehem (USA).
In these centers the old tradition of classic spirituality is enriched with the inputs of the new one, open even to people of other Christian denominations and of different religions. Well known are contacts taking place with the Orthodox in Sanzeno and with the Tibetan Buddhists in Eupilio. It seems that today there are two main streams leading to the search for God in the desert, in solitude, in silence, in the interior, and both of them open to man in his immense need for liberation and progress.
The Bamabite spirituality does not experience a conflict between the mainstreams, rather considers them as interdependent. The more one is involved in spiritual life, the more he becomes available to his brothers and sisters; the more he tastes the joys of the spirit, which are “supreme and really true” as Fr. Battista da Crema used to say, the more open he is to the pains of humanity, and he takes on his shoulders “the burdens of his neighbor,” as our Holy Founder loved to say (cf The Writings of St. Anthony Zaccaria, 47). Moreover, he “ruminates” the Word, he “toils” in the apostolate, using an expression used by the Angelic Negri to define the spiritual and pastoral life. Or still yet, using her words, the warmer a man becomes with God's love, the more inflamed he is toward others, provoking fires of love and faith in towns, religions, and states.
Perhaps, some may say that although there is an increase in the demand for religion, and although the activities in spiritual centers are becoming more intense, still those who go through similar exercises and experiences are only a minority. But it is this minority to be recognized and even praised by Christ when he spoke of salt and leaven. A small thing, but destined to give flavor and growth to the great mass. In this the Bamabites do nothing else but follow the intuition of Fra Battista, who recommended to work in depth rather then extension, “It is better to lead few to true perfection, to the summit of virtue, than to raise a lot of commotion among many and then leave them in their imperfection.”
It was obvious that a Founder would demand such a program from those whom he had called “his sweetest children” :they had to become his collaborators in the spiritual enterprise God had entrusted to him, the reform of the Christians, clergy and laity, during a time marred by ideological confusion due to the Protestant schism in the Church, and the moral corruption among many of the leaders themselves. A task which was out of proportion for human initiatives and means. Only an authentic manifestation of evangelical life could have been able to recall and to cause a renewal in the work of salvation.
How did the Bamabites respond to their Founder's challenge? It is very difficult to evaluate “Holiness”. By its very nature it belongs to the interior life of the individual, although it can also have exterior manifestations always caused by contingent situations which many times are absent.
The efforts of the saints to keep hidden their interior assimilation unto Christ, can prevent the world in which they live from recognizing their holiness, or it can be appreciated only according to what is evident at the outside. In the early Church the sudden public manifestation of holiness was given by the bloody witness provoked by the persecutors. For three centuries this will be the only sign, and that too bound to contingent elements. How many Christians would have witnessed Christ in that way if given the opportunity! And the number of martyrs is surely less than those who actually gave their life for the faith. Even then a choice had to be made, based on contingent elements like the social or ecclesial condition of the individual, the young age, the cruelty or drama of their death, etc. We could call them casual motives but they were motivated by Divine Providence. If in human events nothing is up to chance, as Jesus says in the Gospel, much less up to chance would be the glorification of martyrs and saints in the history of the Church.
In the more than 477 years of our Bamabite Congregation history, the value “holiness” has had three expressions. 1) One officially acknowledged and sanctioned by the competent authority of the Church; 2) another has been publicly recognized in the Bamabite family, among the people bound to the Congregation, and even among the people of entire cities or regions; 3) a third expression finally is known only to God and to the few privileged people who happened to live together with authentic saints without any publicity.
Obviously we can have a list and pertinent information only about those who belong to the first category of saints, who either have reached the glory of the altars, or their cause is underway, maybe trapped in the labyrinth of norms and regulations, which characterizes the specific pontifical department. In the second category some Bamabites have received an “officious” title as saints, which was tolerated by the ecclesiastical authority during a time when related rules and regulations were in the process of being formed. Juridically strictly speaking today those titles have no value at all; at most they prove the fame of holiness for the individual in case the formal process would be introduced. Among them we have the cofounders Venerables Ferrari and Morigia; the Venerable John Peter Besozzi, third Superior General and re-elected for five terms; in the XVII century the Venerable Cosimo Dossena, twelfth Superior General and then Bishop of Tortona; the Venerable Battista Crivelli, eighteenth Superior General; Bishop Venerable Christopher Giarda, killed in hate to the Holy See; the young Diego Martinez, companion of St. Louis Gonzaga at the Spanish Royal Court; the Venerable Michelangelo Pane, dead at the age of eighteen serving the victims of a pestilence; the Servant of God Ludovic Bitoz, a Brother, apostle among the Huguenots in the Beam (France); the Venerable Stephen Centurione, founder of the Turchine Sisters.
In the XVIII century these titles started to fade way. Up to the XIII century it had been up to the local Bishop to ascertain the holiness of individuals, and sometimes it was done in a very summary way. Gregory IX with his “Decretales” reserved this task to the Holy See. But also in Rome the process had been rather light and expeditious, and limited only to the canonization process. During the Reformation, also as a reaction to the negation of the cult of the saints, their glorification was over-burdened with external glorification, like pompous ceremonies in the Vatican Basilica at the time of the ritual proclamation, while the process itself became arduous and extremely complicated.
A new juridical step was added, Beatification, that is, the permission for the diocese in which the saint was born and/or had died, and for the Religious Congregation of the Saint to venerate the “Blessed” If it was not for the restricting laws of 1588 by Sixtus V, the list of Bamabite Saints would be as long as the one of preceding Orders. A drastic law was the one signed by Urban VIII in 1634, which abolished all the cults which had started after 1534. A perfect coincidence with the birth of the Barnabite family! Obedient to the Holy See, the Congregation immediately dropped all cults including the one in honor of the Holy Founder, so dear and precious. Suddenly the Congregation was without any Saints. But this did not stop the people from keeping venerating many Barnabites. Some of them received even titles, like Bishop Paul Nerini, killed in defense of his people in Burma; or the Servant of God Charles Fedeli, a 24 year old deacon; many others were venerated as saints, although without titles. For example, Fr. Jerome Vaiano, dear to St. Charles Borromeo; Fr. Peter Sessa, a model of regular observance; the seminarian Sebastian Carii; Fr. Alexander Lurani, a man of prayer; Bishop Pious Gallizia, first Apostolic Vicar in the Kingdoms of Ava and Pegu (Burma), killed by Indies together with Fr. Alexander Mondelli and Fr. John del Conte; Bishop John Percoto, apostolic missionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
These are only few names taken from a very lengthy list. Walking through the corridors of some of the Barnabite houses, the visitor is amazed at the many oil portraits of serious faces raptured in prayer, or youthful faces with sparkling eyes. The Latin inscriptions sometime talk about scientists and scholars, but often they praise the virtues and the great accomplishments of those Barnabites.
But the picture-gallery of the Barnabite Saints presents many blanks. During periods of war and/or pestilence there was no time for portraits. They were too busy in giving their lives for heir brethren.