Challenge of the heart

A young novice contemplates before St Annibale’s heart in its reliquary.

This coming Monday (01 June) is the Feast Day of our Father Founder, St Annibale Maria Di Francia.  This is a very special day for us Daughters of Divine Zeal and the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus.  As a whole family we join our prayers in thanksgiving for the gift of this great Padre.

Casa San Annibal in Guadalajara, Mexico
Casa San Annibal in Guadalajara, Mexico

I never heard him speak, yet I received so many inspirations, so much more than I could grasp.  I never saw him move but he did so much.  In his silence and in his immobility he communicated so many thoughts, performed many works, called so many souls back to God, and he revealed so many realities and possibilities.  His presence, at times, seemed too much, too intoxicating that one could not help but be impelled to do something.  That was my experience with the Founder’s relic visit.

His presence was not threatening but an active, joyful and compassionate presence.  Looking and venerating the Founder’s heart and getting close to it was an experience with the holy.  His heart said more than what any eloquent tongue could pronounce.  If others received miracles perceived by the senses, mine was different.  I was not only moved outside of me but deep within.

St Annibale’s heart showed the greatness of God’s heart, whose sentiments he captured during his life.  Receiving praises now does not add anything for his glory but to the One whom he had loved from the beginning.  Yes, he chose God for his inheritance and God did not fail him.  He received everything that God promised and for that he said “God is enough“.  He put himself in the heart of God and only God was his heart’s content and, by that, everyone found a place in his heart.  And since the God that was in his heart is all compassionate, he too was compassionate.  He was and is a real son of the Father and he came to tell me that I, too, am God’s child and to be truly such a means to imbue the Father’s love and being into my life.

Being with the Founder’s relic taught me compassion for the Lord’s harvest.  In all the places he visited, he showed me and told me about other fields of harvest waiting for holy labourers.  He had set the banner of Rogate in all those places, reminded me of our mission, challenged me to be his real child, unflagging and ready to kindle the fire of God’s love and herald of hope to the despairing.  He inaugurated the work by calling the restless and the lost back into God’s arms for rest.  He healed, with his presence, broken relationships and strengthened those feeble in faith.  He paved the way for me to walk in and to plunge myself into the deep of the Lord’s abundant harvest.  He dissipated his life in the harvest of the Lord through his untiring works.  Life eternal he now possessed and what joy that is!

Having heard of the people’s experiences with the Father Founder when it was time to say goodbye made me evaluate my own experiences.  The Padre’s gift to me is more than what the senses can perceive.  He came to ignite my life with a flame of love that is unquenchable, a hope that has made me plunge and keep moving on to be a responsible child of God, which is the highest price of self-ownership.

Yes, in this world corrupted by the deception of materialism, hedonism and sexism, the Padre came to tell a different story.  A new story which our exhausted humanity, searching for meaning, finds it difficult to see.  His story offers another possibility of spending this precious gift of our life.  He offers the value of unanimity of heart to the creator. A unanimity that is perceived by the way we treat all of His creations.


Image source: Benedizione Casa San Annibal

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