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
Letter 8 - to Mr. Battista Soresina
The addressee of this brief letter is Battista Soresina (see n. 128). The letter has no date and no place of origin because Anthony Mary enclosed it with Letter VII. Actually, Letters VI, VII, and VIII form a trilogy written in the same period of time, October-November 1538, when Anthony Mary and Paola Antonia Negri went, first, to Cremona, and then to Guastalla. In fact, at the end of Letter VI, Anthony Mary writes, “…today or tomorrow I will be going to Guastalla… along with Paola Antonia.” And so they did. As a matter of fact, in addition to co-signing Letter VI, they co-signed Letters VII and VIII as well. Both Giacomo Antonio Morigia and Battista Soresina had written to Anthony Mary. Letter VII was his reply. Though written for the whole community at St. Ambrose’s in Milan, the letter’s address specifically mentions Morigia and Soresina. However, on second thought, Anthony Mary decided to enclose a short personal note for Battista in order to exhort him to achieve spiritual maturity through a more interiorized relationship with the Lord. Of course, Anthony Mary and Paola Antonia offer their prayers and support, but Battista should have more trust in, and openness to, the direct action of the Lord.
The text of this letter is drawn from a copy in the General Archives in Rome (N, b, II, 6).
SPIRITUAL-THEOLOGICAL THEMES OF THE LETTER
- Trust in the Lord
-“Why are you so faint-hearted and full of fear?... By experience you should be well aware of the help given to you.”
To our cordial and sweet son in Christ,
SWEET SON IN CHRIST,
Why are you so faint-hearted and full of fear? Don’t you know that we cannot forsake you? By experience you should be well aware of the help given to you.
We have prayed Jesus Crucified. We do not want any one thing from Him, unless He grants you the same, to your mind and heart.
That’s all, but rest assured that we will keep our word.
May Christ greet you on our behalf. Please keep us in your prayers.
Christ bless you.
Yours, Father in Christ,
Anthony Mary, Priest,
I, P[aola] A[ntonia Negri]140
139. Thanks are due to the Barnabite historian and archivist, Fr. Giuseppe M. Cagni. In an e-mail communication on September 9, 1998 he considerably identified “Mr. Battista” and suppled the circumstances of Letter 8.
140. See n. 59.
- Often times when faced with life’s ordeals we become fearful, and we forget that God takes care of us as his children.
- We belong to the Church where Jesus Christ is at work.
- In our prayer we ask God’s blessings for both ourselves and our brothers and sisters.
- If I know that God’s eyes are always turned toward me, should I be afraid of difficulties?
- Do I believe that in the Church we are under the loving protection of Jesus Christ who is actively present and abiding?
- In my prayers do I tend to ask a lot for myself and little for others?
The date of this letter is missing. We think that it fits well right after the letter to the Omodeis. Instead Fr. Premoli puts it after the letter to the Confreres. Most likely St. Anthony Mary wrote it toward the end of his life, while he was in Guastalla together with Paola Antonia Negri, who co-signed the letter.
We have not been able to understand who Sir Battista is. Perhaps he is the same Battista who in the Letter V sends greetings to the Angelics together with the Holy Founder’s mother.
But it could also be Fr. Soresina, who at the very beginning was experiencing some discouragements, and to whom, because of his young age, the tender signature "Your Father in Christ and Mother" fits well.
Fr. Raffaelli wrote in the "Eco dei Barnabiti" (May 1939, p. 163):
This time too we have, more than a letter, a note with only few lines. Here too we find a warm exhortation not to lose heart because of the difficulties encountered in our life journey and in doing good.
Away with the pessimism which, without reason, makes us believe that our spiritual fathers, our brothers and our cooperators have abandoned us. Do we want to know what do they do for us? Why not to think that there are so many people who pray for us, who pray for us with an exquisite charity, who desire nothing from the Lord Jesus for themselves, and the good they request they would not request unless also their dear ones could benefit from it?
How many times that beloved spiritual child to whom now St. Anthony M. Zaccaria writes, must have experienced the fruits of prayers elevated to God or him! Therefore, if he has no trust, if he believes to be good for nothing, he will experience that the one who trusts in God, as the Holy Apostle Paul says, can do anything with the help of God.
The Last Three Letters
May 1539. Anthony M. Zaccaria has been summoned to Guastalla to try to bring peace among the citizens who are in turmoil. They have been hit with an interdict, because they refuse to accept the decision of Rome granting the estate of Guastalla to the Count Paul Torelli of Montii, and not to the Count Mark Anthony Torelli of Mantua. They have high hopes in the mediation of the Saint, chaplain of the previous Countess of Guastalla. They have great esteem for him, who, beside preaching and confessing, can even celebrate the Holy Eucharist on his portable altar, although there is an interdict for the whole city. His fame is enhanced by a miraculous happening. One day, on the road he met a young man in the fullness of his health. He stopped him and invited him to reflect about his life because "the Lord wants to call you before than you think." The young man did not hesitate to go to confession, and the next day he died in an accident.
So our Saint is busy with the citizens of Guastalla, but at what cost for his spiritual children?
Three long letters in ten days (how many more maybe he wrote before, and got lost!). one for each of his three families:
- to the Angelics, in the person of their guide and Mistress;
- to the Confreres, in Fr. Soresina, the youngest of the first eight;
- to the Married, in the Omodei couple.
These are his last three letters, like a spiritual testament, in which he did not want to forget anybody. The "tiredness of the body" he accused in the conclusion of the third letter is perhaps already the high fever which is consuming him to the end.
 We have no idea which treasure the Saint means.