Page 7, 19th March 1965

19th March 1965
Page 7
Page 7, 19th March 1965 — The Seminary: 1899-1902

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Organisations: Council of Trent, army, Mit, OPC
Locations: Rome


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The Seminary: 1899-1902

LAST WEEK First year in seminary . . .

troubled by "self-love" . . draws up disciplinary routine ...

NEXT WEEK Priesthood . . . "What will I do with my life?" . . . already concerned with unity . . for time being: obedience .. . 1914 War: Army chaplain . . . spiritual director of seminary .. . . avoids honours: "vanity of vanities"...


Spiritual Notes

January 15: Monthly day of recollection

THE death of my beloved director Isacchi,' and my acquiring a new director,2 have brought about some small changes, even if they have not greatly altered my lite. For example, I am certainly not so well known to the new director as I was to Isacchi. and so I do not yet feel that sense of familiarity which I had before; but I must just be patient and things will adjust themselves.

As for my habit of making these jottings, as I had done from last year until this last month. the new director does not seem to think so highly of this as the other did. In short, one thinks in one way, one in another. That is why there is such a gap between the last entry and today's. But this is by the way. Let us get down to


May 22: Monday after Pentecost, in retreat

The festivities for my new parish priest, the little poem I wrote for this occasion,3 and then the ordinands; and the secret ambitions of my selfesteem, oh! there was plenty of scope for my pride! 1 must beware of letting my imagination run riot. Thank God, I do not think my mind was really taken in by these fancies but still it would not do it any harm to be humbled a little.

Every now and then somebody humiliates me and, thinking that I do not resent this, they draw blood. These are the moments for rejoicing in silence. They say and believe that I am a fool. Perhaps I am, but my pride will not allow me to think so. This is the funny side to it all.

1900 Impressions and rtflections during the holy retreat of the Year of

Grace 1900, February,

Seminary of Bergamo: All the fine honours that may come to me one day through my learning, what use will they be to me on the point of death? When these thoughts upset me and 'swell my pride, there is one stern and effective way to dismiss them: to think of myself at the moment of death, of the desires I shall have at that moment, and to ask myself: 'What has this to do with eternity?'

The thought of hell terrifies

me: I cannot bear it. It seems almost impossible to me, I cannot imagine my God being so angry with me as to drive me away, after loving me so much. Yet this is ,a most certain truth. If I' do not fight against my pride, my arrogance and selfesteem. hell awaits nie. Oh what a dreadful thought!

Is it then true. 0 beloved Jesus, that I could no longer love you? no longer see your face? that I should be driven from you? I must hope this will never happen, but it might. So 1 must always with fear and trembling work out my own salvation. Meanwhile it will be well constantly to remind myself of hell, either by the contemplation of external objects or by mortifications.

These four qualities sum up for me my duties, the virtues of a cleric ; piety, studiousness, self-denial and strength of character. Angelic piety. unwearying study, continual mortifications, especially of self-love and of the eyes. a really priestly character which shall be seen, in the words of the Council of Trent, in my 'gestures, gait, dress and speech'.

Holy Year, 1900—Jesus, Mary, Joseph!

August 22: Wednesday, monthly day of recollection

There are four resolutions which I am determined to carry out here, now and always, so as to be able to take a few steps forward. First of all I must have the spirit of union with Jesus, the spirit of recolldction in his Heart from my first awakening in the morning until I close my eyes at night and, if possible, also during my dreams at night. 'I slept but my heart was awake." My best efforts must go into saying the rosary.

Secondly,. I must never forget the dictum: Age quod agis!5 and always and in all my actions preserve presence of mind. Thirdly, I must observe thc most scrupulous modesty in my glances, words, etc. We know what we mean by this.

Finally, tranquillity, calm, cheerfulness, good manners,

never a cross word with anyone, no excited speech, but simplicity, cordiality, sincerity without cowardice—no flabbiness. And I roust add: never to speak of anyone, or of my intimate friends, if their failures should set my own conduct in a better light.

If I speak at all I must speak with reserve, saying what good I can of them and covering up their failings when to reveal them would do no good and would only arouse my own vanity which lurks beneath the surface and more often than

not quietly slips out. These are the fruits of this retreat.

August 24: Friday evening

it is really true, as we read in The Imitation of Christ, that at certain times the less noble part

of man, whether he will or not, gets on top of his better nature and crushes it. This is what happened to me this afternoon. Although I racked my brains to try to study with some profit, I could not get anything done.

I felt out of sorts with everything, bored stiff with sermons and reading, with everything in fact. What was I to do? Praise be to God all the same. We are always in his hands, come what may. It gave rrre a good chance to mortify my excessive desire to study, to get on well, etc.

However, the good Jesus helped me over this too. Even though. as soon as I opened one book I closed it at once to take up another, at least I was not idle and was able to flout the devil. Thanks be to God.

But that blessed rosary went rather badly again this evening. And yet, I am sure I do not do this on purpose; every now and then. as soon as I notice my thoughts are straying. I do try to concentrate.

August 29: Wednesday evening

Not so badly on the whole. But one thing is certain: days without holy communion show that something is missing. During this Novena of the Nativity of Mary I will be especially careful not to pander to my palate since, as this is the season for fruit, I find many opportunities for indulging this weakness.

This evening, to disturb my peace of mind, there was an incident which, though insignificant in itself, has made a profound and painful impression on me, My mother was rather hurt by something .1 said (which. I confess, might have been put more gently) rebuking her curiosity about a certain matter.

She was deeply offended and said things to me which I would never have expected to hear from my mother, for whom, after God, Mary and the saints, bear the greatest love of which my heart iS capable.

To hear her tell me that I am always uncivil with her, without gentleness or good manners, when I feel that I can say with all sincerity that this is not true, has hurt me too deeply; she was distressed because of me, but I was very much more distressed to see her grieving and, to put

it frankly, giving way like this.

After so much tender love to

be told by tny mother that 1 dislike her, and other things that I have not the heart to remember any longer—oh this was too much for the heatt of a son, and of a son who feels the most profound natural affections. This gave me the most bitter sorrow. wounded the most intimate and sensitive fibres of my heart.

How could I help giving way to tears? 0 mother. if you only knew how much I love you. and how I long to see you happy. you would not be able to contain your joy!

September 6: Thursday evening

Today was a day sent from God, during which I have been obliged to do all that my good Lord wished, He sent me a bad headache and so, in spite of some rebellion on the part of that other self. I have had to give up studying and put aside my poor panegyric on the Sacred Heart, which will be finished when Jesus wishes.

This is really a punishment for my impatience to reach some final conclusions. As for feeling resigned, I do not think I failed in this. Thanks be to God. Through his grace I am willing to suffer everything for my Jesus. for the Heart that loves me so much.

1901-1903 In the Senzinary in Rome 1902 t Jesus, Mary. Joseph! Notes made during the Spiritual Exercises after the Babylonian Captivity,' December 10-20, 1902, under Father Fran

cesco Pitocchi.7 0 the world is so ugly, filthy and loathsome! In my year of military service I have learned all about it. The army is a running fountain of pollution, enough to submerge whole cities. Who can hope to escape from this flood of slime, unless God comes to his aid?

I thank you, my God, for hay

ing preserved me from so much corruption. This has really been one of your noblest gifts, for which I shall be grateful to you my whole life long.

I did not think that a reasonable man could fall so low. Yet it is a fact. Today, after my brief experience, I think it is true to say that more than half of all mankind. at some time in their lives, become animals. without shame. And the priests? 0 God, I tremble when I think that not a few, even among these, betray their sacred calling.

Now nothing surprises me any more: certain stories make no impression on me. Everything is explained. What cannot be explained is how it is that you, 0 most pure Jesus, of whom it was said 'he pastures his flock among the lilies' can put up with such infamous conduct, even from your own ministers, and yet deign to come down into their hands and dwell in their hearts, without inflicting on them instant punishment.

Lord Jesus, I tremble for myself too. If 'the stars of the sky fell to the earth', what hope have I who am made out of dust?

From now on I intend to be even more scrupulous about this matter. even if I become the laughing stock of the whole world. In order not to touch upon impure subjects, I think it is better to say very little, or hardly anything at all, about purity. 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels. I have reason to tremble. 'Is my flesh bronze?'

I must always remember that what little good I have, which my vanity, to make me boastful,

attributes to my own merits, has nothing to do with me, nothing

at all, I must convince myself

that without the special love that Jesus has shown me should be nothing more today than a poor peasant, the roughest, the most ignorant and perhaps the most wicked of all.

lam not at all what I believe wishes me to be taken for. My father is a peasant who spends his days hoeing and digging among other things, and I, far from being better than my father. am worth much less, for my father at least is simple and good, while in me there is nothing but malice. myself to be or what my pride

When my self-love is silent for a moment and I think of my obligation to give myself wholly to God and to show in deeds that 1 am really, entirely and unreservedly consecrated to him, and that I want to become holy, become alarmed and despon-• dent—but I must take heart, reflecting that Jesus, who has done such great things for rue, has done them all for some special purpose worthy of himself, and that, as until now it is he who has done everything, so he is all the more willing to shower further graces on me in order to complete his work, as long as he finds plenty of good will on my part.

Finally, I must never forget that among the first twelve disciples of Jesus there was Judas also who. because he did not respond to the tender love of his divine Master, slowly and imperceptibly became a traitor, an execrable monster of infamy. If it is true that love drives out fear, it is no less true that fear makes love more sensitive and more cautious.

The Year of Grace, 1902 —spiritual diary in the natne of the Lord. Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us, inflame our hearts with love for you.

December 16

God is all : I am nothing. Let this do for today.

December 17 There is still too much of the dust of battle about me. Youthful enthusiams, radiant ideals, splendid visions; these dreams are very beautiful but must for the present be handled with care. They could lead to a waste of time. however excellent and holy they may be in themselves. So—I must beware of them, or at least be very cautious.

December 24 Night has fallen; the clear bright stars are sparkling in the cold air; noisy strident voices rise to my ear from the city, voices of the revellers of this world who celebrate with their merrymaking the poverty of their Saviour. Around me in their rooms my companions are asleep, and I am still wakeful. thinking of the mystery of Bethlehem.

Come, come Jesus, I await you.

December 31 Only a few hours more—and this year too will conic to an end and pass into history. I shall always remember 1902: the year of my military service, the year of conflicts. . '

I might, like so many other poor wretches, have lost my vocation—and I did not lose it. 1 might have lost holy purity and the grace of God, but God did not allow me to do this. 1 passed through the mire and by his grace I was kept unpolluted. I am still alive. healthy, robust as before, better than before. . . . Jesus, I thank you, I love you.

1 Canon Luigi lsacchi (1839-1598) WkIN spiritual director of OPC seminary at Bergamo from 1883 to 1898.

2 Canon Ottitino Spampatti, who dicd in 1919

fie alludrs to a pocm of eleven verses. composed in the Seminary nn 22 May. 1099. km the ncw parish priest and entitled: 'Al nolello parroeo di Sotto it Monte— M .R Luigi Raffaele—rite in quest° gionto—Atrusiee l'A neelleo S. Euhttsnlettnnentettre Inarigerra—el sun ;mammy minfertro' ere the rim perish priest or semi ii Monte—Nt.R.11). Luigi Battaglia— who on 'Mit day —tindet the ausrlecs of the angelic St. Aloy.los--solemnly inaugurates his pastoral ministryI. Pr. I 1081 Battaglia (1552-1917) was parish priest of Sotto II Islonte front 1899 to 1917.

4 Song of Solomon 5:2.

5 This tag ie one used frequently by Pope lohn. It appears to be a misquotation of Hera, IV, 4, 107, and may bc-st he translated as 'Pay attention to what you are "ug 8 HIsim.illtary service. See letters.

7 Father Francesco Pitocchl was born at Vier) del Lazio (Frosinoncl on 22 her. 1952, 1852. and dicd in Rome on 13 lune, 192?. Hcaoiitneit 875 and. wher:mrnrit.enteredthc aireadi Itedemptorist novitiate. and wus professed In 1885. Leo XIII annointed him contemn' of the Roman Seminary in 1899. For many years. inspired by the teaching of St. Alphonsus Liguori. hr mulcted his student, lowatds !Omni.] piety lind generou, obedience. Young Angelo Ronralll had him F,,, spiritual director from 19113 to 1905. Subsequently he went to hint eVery time he canic back to Rome, and finally also when he was called to Propaganda Fide in I 97 I.

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