JOURNAL OF A SOUL is published by Geoffrey Chapman at 42s.
TODAY I have been look ing hack over my progress this month to see how my spiritual life is faring. "Few and brief," I have made progress, to be sure. but very little. In fact I am still a sinner, and very slow to reform.
My pride in particular has given me a great deal of trouble. because of my unsatisfactory examination results. This, I must admit, was a real humiliation; I have yet to learn my A.B.C. in the practice of true humility and scorn of self. I feel a restless longing for I know not what—it is as if I were trying to fill a bottomless bag, August 1-10
Notes written during the retreat in preparation for my ordination. Made in the Retreat House of the Passionist Fathers of St. John and St. Paul on the Caelian
What will become of me in the future? Shall 1 be a good theologian or a famous jurist, or shatl I have a country parish or be just a simple priest? What does all this matter to me?
I must he prepared to be none of all these, or even more than all these, as God wills, My God and my all. After all, it is easy for Jesus to scatter to the four winds my dream of cutting a brilliant figure in the eyes of the world.
1 must get it into my head that, just because God loves me, there will be no plan for me in which ambition plays a part; so it is useless for me to rack my brains about it.
Our excellent Father Director has begged me to take as my companion, during the time we spend on our walks, a young Protestant who has been given hospitality while being prepared for the abjuration of his former faith. Poor young man, I feel so sorry for him!
He is a good youth,but for the best nine years of his life—he is now eighteen—he has been thoroughly imbued with the instruction which the Protestants are so expert in giving. There is not a single prejudice against the Catholic Church that he does not know, not one article of heretical teaching that he has not learnt.
His company, even if somewhat distracting. does me good, for it brings home to me another grave peril which is threatening the faith in Italy, now so beset with divers sects. Alas! the children of this world arc wiser than the children of light."
Meanwhile this has convinced me of my tremendous obligation to thank God for the great gift of faith: one has only to talk to a Protestant for a few hours to
.understand all the importance of this. literefure, forever, "his praise shall he continually in my mouth"3 for this gift too, indeed for this gift above all else. As for these poor unfortunates outside the Church, we must feet sorry for them, poor children, pray hard for them, and work with all our hearts and strength for their conversion.
Secretary to Mgr. Radini Tedeschi, Bishop of Bergamo
October 4, 1906: Jerusalem. Pontifical Mass of Mgr. Radini Tedeschi
The Bishop compared the bewilderment of the pious women when they saw the stone of the sepulchre rolled away with the sense of amazement and grief felt by Christians from distant countries when confronted with the disorder, the confusion of people, things, languages, rites and faiths surrounding the holy sepulchre.
Then he made an impassioned appeal to the risen Christ to return in all the splendour of his glory above the empty tomb not to disperse but to convert, that there may be heard again, in his place above all others, and echoed throughout the entire East, and from the Russian Steppes and Africa too, his promise of one fold and one shepherd.
All eyes were on the Bishop and all hearts responded to his words and throbbed in unison with his in one great prayer, the common desire shared by all that the separated brethren should return to the true fold.
With the help of all Christians everywhere why should today's prayer not become tomorrow's reality? Meanwhile we must strive for the realisation of this wonderful prayer, so magnificently expressed, and leave the rest to God, knowing that Christ's words will one day come to pass, and especially here in Jerusalem: one fold and one shepherd!
October 2-8, 1910: During the retreat made at Martinengo with the Bishop 4
During this retreat Jesus, my blessed Lord, has deigned to give me an even clearer understanding of the necessity of keeping whole and intact my "sense of faith" and my "being of one mind with the Church", for he has shown me in a dazzling light the wisdom, timeliness and
nobility of the measures taken by the Pope to safeguard the clergy in particular from the infection of modern errors (the socalled Modernist errors), which in a crafty and tempting way arc trying to undermine the foundations of Catholic doctrine.5
The painful experiences of this year, suffered here and there, the grave anxieties of the Holy Father and the pronouncements of the religious authorities have convinced me, without the need of other proof, that this wind of Modernism blows very strongly and more widely than seems at first sight, and that it may very likely strike and bewilder even those who were at first moved only by the desire to adapt the ancient truth of Christianity to modern needs.
Many, some of them good men, have fallen into error, perhaps unconsciously; they have let themselves be swept into the field of error. The worst of it is that ideas lead very swift to the spirit of independence and private judgment about everything and everyone.
I thank the Lord on my knees for having preserved me safely in the midst of such a ferment and agitation of brains and tongues.
October 1.7, 1911: Retreat made at Martinengo with the Bishop 6 I confirm my last year's intention about guarding my loyalty of heart and mind to the Church and the Pope. In days of uncertainty and sadness St. Alphonsus used to say: "The Pope's will: God's will!"7 This shall be my motto and I will be true to it. 0 Lord, help me, for I desire you alone!
October 13.19, 1912: Retreat made at Martinengo with the Bishop 8 1 and about to enter the thirtysecond year of my life. The thought of the past makes me humble and ashamed; the thought of the present is con
soling because mercy is still being shown to me; the thought of the future encourages me in the hope of making up for lost time.
How much future will there bc7 Perhaps a very short one. But long or short as it may be, 0 Lord, once more I tell you that it is all yours.
I must not try to find or follow new ways of doing good. I live under obedience, and obedience has already overburdened me with so many occupations that my shoulders are sagging under the weight. But I am willing to bear this and other burdens, if the Lord so desires.
My rest will be in heaven. These are the years for hard work. My Bishop sets me an example, since he does more than I. I will be most careful never to waste a single moment.
I find it humiliating, but it is my duty to insist again on the resolutions already made about being absolutely faithful to my rule of life.
Getting up at half past five, then meditation, the Bishop's Mass, my Mass, thanksgiving, the Hours; brief but frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament, Vespers after my brief siesta, a very devout recital of the rosary;
without fail, and a rather longer visit to the Blessed Sacrament; some spiritual reading before falling asleep. These are the fundamental points; they are my lifeline.
Having to keep to strict times for meals, with so many other things to think about, has discouraged any greediness over food. That is all to the good. But I must do more. My miserable body is becoming fat and heavy! I am conscious of this as it reduces the physical agility which also is very necessary to me if I am to do good; moreover, the body must be kept lamed lest it should start to kick: "1 chastise my body and subdue IC°
So I must be very careful to eat slowly, not like a greedy man, and in general eat a little less, and in the evening very little. The same with drink. It
is above all in the use of food and drink that I must exercise the spirit of mortification.
Although I am only just over thirty years old, I begin to feel some wear and tear of the nerves. ibis will not do. When I feel irritable I must think of my own worthlessness and of my duty to understand and sympathise with everyone, without passing harsh judgments. This will help me to keep calm.
The work I am doing now requires great delicacy and prudence as it frequently means dealing with women." I intend therefore that my behaviour shall always be kind, modest and dignified so as to divert attention from my own person and give a richer spiritual quality to my work. Past experience is an encouragement for the future.
Here again, if I think poorly of myself and distrust my own powers and raise my thoughts constantly to Jesus, returning to his embrace as soon as I have ended my task, it will be a great protection. It would be dangerous if in this work I were to presume on my own powers for a single moment.
There is a great deal of tittletattle about just now. I will be true to my principles of love, obedience and devotion to the Holy Father and be on my guard against anything that might impair these loyalties, but I shall not let myself be distracted by idle gossip, still less get drawn into it.
There is so much to do, and the words of our Holy Father Pius X are so solemn, and the opportunities he has given for apostolic zeal in the present hour so vast, that it seems to me a waste of time to get involved in journalistic questions.
While remaining apart from all this and above it I will nevertheless consider it my duty always to speak well of the Holy Father and of his directives, and to inculcate in others that sense of love and veneration for him which 1 shall feel myself. This I will try to do, especially with my students in the seminary.
August 1914: After ten years of priesthood I have now been a priest for ten years; what will my life he in the future? That remains hidden from me. It may be that but a short time remains before I am called to render my final account. 0 Lord Jesus, come to take me now.
If 1 am to wait for some, perhaps many, years then I hope they will he years of intense labour, upborne by holy obedience, with a great purpose running through everything, but never a thought straying beyond the bounds of obedience. Preoccupations about the future, which arise from self-love, delay the work of God in us and hinder his purposes, without even furthering our material interests.
1 need to be very watchful about this, every day, because I foresee that with the passing of years, and perhaps in the near future, I shall have many struggles with my pride. Let whoever will pass before me and go on ahead; I stay here where Providence has placed me, with no anxieties, leaving the way clear for others.
May 23, 1915
Tomorrow I leave to take up my military service in the Medical Corps.11 Where will they send me? To the front perhaps? Shall 1 ever return to Bergamo, or has the Lord decreed that my last hour shall be on the battlefield? 1 know nothing; all 1 want is the will of God in all things and at all times, and to work for his glory in total self-sacrifice.
in this way, and in this way only, can I be true to my vocation and show in my actions my real love for my country and the souls of my fellows. My spirit is willing and cheerful.12 Lord Jesus, keep me always so; Mary, my kind Mother, help me "that in all things Christ may be glorified".
1918-1920 • Spiritual Director of the Seminary at Bergamo
April 28-May 3, 1919: Retreat after the War,' in the house of the Priests of the Sacred Heart 14 In four years of war, passed in the midst of a world in agony, how good the Lord has been to me! He has enabled me to go through so much, and granted me so many occasions of doing good to my fellow men! My Jesus, 1 thank you and I bless you.
I call to mind all those young souls I have come to know during these years, many of whom accompanied to the threshold of the other life; the memory of them moves me deeply, and the thought that they will pray for me is comforting and encouraging.
I will never say or do anything, I will dismiss as a temptation any thought, which might in any way be directed to persuading my Superiors to give me positions or duties of greater distinction. Experience teaches me to beware of responsibilities. These are solemn enough in themselves if assumed under obedience, but terrifying for whoever has sought them for himself, pushing himself forward without being called upon. Honours and distinctions, even in the ecclesiastical world, are "vanity of vanities".15 They assert the glory of a day; they are dangerous for whoever desires glory in eternity and paradise; even from the point of view of human wisdom they are worth very little. Anyone who has lived in the midst of these stupidities as I did in Rome, and in the first ten years of my priesthood, may well insist that they deserve no better name. Forward, forward, whoever wants to go ahead! I envy none of these fortunate souls.
1 the director of the retreat house from 1902-1910 was Fr. Ferdinando del Clime di tied'. (Olin& God), hum in Martin di Lucca 2 November. 1862, died 26 November, 1925. the giver of the retreat in which Angelo Roncalll took part was Fr. ktartino del Volt. Santo (Ahomiro Simonctti), burn in Lucca 31 March. 1843. died 12 May. 1925.
2 Cf. Luke 16:8. Pshaelmpr3e3aT 2 e was 4 il s Moretto, 5 The author alludes to the series of measures taken by Pius X for the reorganization of the Roman seminaries at the taletan and for the creation of regional seminaries in Central and Southern Italy, the better to control the studies of seminarists and to establish a healthy and soundly based ecclesiastical education.
Is Hie preacher was Fr. Bonen', SI.
7 Antonio Tannola. Della vita ed Istituto del ten. Sal'n di Ma mon,. Ationin iteuati, II. Naples. 18(Xl. 282: other editions. book 111, chap. 55: 'I his blow (the suppression of the Society of Jesus' IA RN really too much for Alphonsus. He seemed to freeze and lose the use of his which .11'1"22. hlriilhyc.art717.°)f is.ichieledtbfurr'domabget ‘:titan. Although he did not speak his face showed the hitter sorrow he felt in Ins heart. When he received the Brief of Suppression, he was silent for a moment, pitying homage in thr lodgments of God shown in the orders from the Pope: then ahned'anido: other uPo'riell'c'evewrille'amGe9(11.rsumwilhi'll; lips to express his inner suffering.'
a The preacher was Fr. Giannini, S.I. a I Cm, 9: 27.
18 When the Committee of the Union r4 Italian Catholic Women was constituted in itetat i niatne ,,ra ,h.es recalled to was appointed first ecclesiastical assistant, onallJanuary. army 1a91C); a because of the Italian declaration of war on Austria. on 24 May, 1915, and sent to the bosnitals of Bergamo, where he was first a non-commissioned officer and later. from 28 March, 1916, a chaplain: he was discharged on 19 December, 1918.
1132 Cf. MNantnewbr2r,6:194118, the Bishop of Bergamo. Mgr. Marelli, appointed him !:if),,itlyilnikluinRdircelecrtti)crs owftinthewesreemrirnriiyngg assist the front and from life in barracks. He was recognised to have the intelligence and prudent friendliness necessary to treat such dci1i4c1h5eil"parleakliemher at Bergamo was the archpriest Speranza of Villa d'Adda.
15 Eccles, 1:2.