HOMILY OF 16th MARCH 1980
BY THE REVEREND FATHER BONAVENTURA MARIA RASCHI
I remind you of the classical words, which I have never forgotten and which I have often recalled, when for the opening of this Sanctuary Our Lady said these precise words: whoever will come to this Sanctuary of mine, I’ll never forsake him.
Now, this would happen if you had came to this Sanctuary with faith, as you have done, evidently because Our Lady isn’t a liar, not only, but She keeps Her promises; She’s not like us, one day we promise and the next we forget or at least we have problems in keeping it; Her promise remains. As a consequence, on you, in your heart, you have the joy and the serenity of a protection which will never lack. This is the first point and of course it’s the most precious moment of the visit to our Lady’s Sanctuary, to any Sanctuary. If there is an apparition and such a promise, evidently the thing is wonderfully interesting. So you are under the wings of a great assurance, and don’t you pay anything? Well, it isn’t true that you pay nothing, you pay with your offers, with your hopes, there is a whole mechanism which makes you pay, so that you are always more and more certain of this hope for Mary’s authentic and real protection.
The second point is that our Lady isn’t only a protectress, which is already a good thing, but She’s also a Friend, a Friend. That is She is the sublime creation of the divine, of the beautiful, of the pure, and so on, and She is interested in our friendship, She is interested in having a warm, intimate relationship with our souls, with us. It’s sufficient to be in a discrete silence, in certain moments of the day, and ask Our Lady to show us, one way or the other, sooner or later, to show us Her protection, the very sweet strength that comes from Her holy motherhood and so we will feel safe. This friendship is a reason for consolation. Well, listen, in your life, do you need consolation? Are you all made of stainless steel that you don’t need anything? This is impossible. Everyone needs consolation, and so where can we find it? We can’t hope to find it among other men because even the best men are always human beings. The same saints are a great pleasure, they say comforting words, but that deep and great action, I would say infallible action, which never sets, which never forsakes us day and night and which makes us feel the fullness of Her affection and of Her guaranty and of Her consolation, that action can only come from Heaven. Saints give their consolation when they are already in Heaven, but Our Lady always gives it because She is glorious in Heaven and She can do it.
So Her friendship is very active and sensitive, for those who want. You wouldn’t go to a night club to listen to Our Lady’s voice, would you? You wouldn’t go and have a bath half naked in the worldly beaches to listen to our Lady’s voice, would you? You wouldn’t think, for example, of going on a trip, one of those promiscuous and dubious ones with all their worldly affairs on the pretence of listening to Our Lady’s voice, would you? Well, we must be sensible and coherent. Our Lady is a voice from Heaven and we poor, when we can, we try to be fit for such a revelation from Heaven. Then Our Lady will be the Friend of our life, and this is not an exaggeration, these are not words suitable to the occasion. Words suitable to the occasion make me laugh when they don’t make me cry. It’s impossible to comfort the souls with lies. Lies are useless. Encouragement, of what? What kind of encouragement is a lie? If I tell you that within two or three years you will be happy, what’s the use of this lie? I could do without it, couldn’t I? I would be a real puppet, especially from the altar, so it’s not a problem of lies, it’s a problem of great truth, of absolute truth, that Our Lady is the Friend of your soul, more than that, She is the Mother; so much so that the council defined Her Mother of the church. As Saint John became the son of Our Lady, symbolizing the whole mankind at the feet of the cross because Jesus establishes it: Woman, behold your son. In the same way we become the children of Our Lady as the council says and so we are certain of this.
Now it is clear that these are not simply words, words suitable to the occasion, but they are a great thing and of their greatness I want you to keep the memory: Our Lady gives this greatness of Grace. But when? In every moment of our life or only in certain moments? No, No. Our Lady doesn’t make any assaults. When Our Lady has given a grace, She gives it for eternity. She doesn’t withdraw Her word, She is not a puppet.
So this guaranty of friendship and motherhood, together with the first one the so called promised protection, they remain the faithful inheritance that we – Her children – receive from Our Lady’s very good and immaculate heart. Does Our Lady ask us to do something? Of course, She asks us to do something, you already know, She has repeated it over and over again thousands of times: prayer and penance, prayer and penance, how boring, always prayer and penance! What do you want to do? Why? If you don’t do any penance, won’t you have any more penance in your life? And who are you going to tell this lie to? Not to me, for sure. Life has its own penance and a lot of times it is very serious, very heavy, even if you don’t want it, it is present. And then, to have some penance and to throw it in the dustbin, it’s not possible! To weep to create something to be thrown away, it’s not worth doing! If we have to do penance, while we are doing it, let’s make it precious, let’s make it produce something; it is no longer rubbish, but something precious which goes into the hands of Our Lady and which She will offer to Our Celestial Father so that it can receive the merit it deserves. We could translate this merit with a modern and contemporary word, as the customs officers say, they call it valuable currency, it’s valuable currency. It is always in circulation, it is never in decline, it’s a richness which is at the feet of Our Lord and guarantees for us. Well, that we have this wonderful guaranty by God is not a small thing. Besides, it’s not a small thing to have often paid a visit to Our Lady in one of Her Sanctuaries, to have prayed, to have spent some moments fraternally together, without paying attention to some imperfections , to something that didn’t go, but I think that only the Lord can say: I do things about which nobody can say a word, because my action is the most perfect. Our Lord. Even Our Lady can say so, but we poor men, poor creatures we can’t. Let’s get out of our heads the ideas of having suffered wrongs, of being right, of being half innocent, cheated by a fellow man; let’s get this melancholy and these stupid things out of our heads. And let’s keep in mind that if there is a penance, even if produced by a fellow man unintentionally, it is something we deserve, disposed by Celestial Administration so that we can gain some merits. On the other hand, don’t we care about money? I mean to earn money not to steal, because it’s a different thing, to earn means to work: in the sweat of your forehead you will eat your bread, says the Lord, working and so earning. Is it a wrong thing? Well, no! And then it is even less wrong than earning some money that you don’t leave on earth, because you leave money here. Gold, money, houses, lands, they all stay here: there is nothing to do: we can’t take them with us, no way. So these things remain, but our spiritual deeds, our penance, prayers, they come with us and they come with us because they are alive, they are real life, they are an evidence of goodness, an evidence of suffering, of patience, but it is an evidence of merits. We bore it as we could, for God’s love, for Our Lady’s love, to have their help, and so on. Very well. This one is eternal, it’ll remain.
And so with Our Lady’s protection, with Our Lady’s motherhood and friendship and with the richness of merits of your good deeds, you leave this Sanctuary with the great richness that you have confirmed several times today, at this altar, and which will stay with you forever. So we are our Lord’s dearest children, we have been looked at with goodness by Him and by our Lady, let’s thank them.
Now I don’t want to bore you any more because it’s not a nice thing to bore people. These ideas are more than enough to tell you that the atmosphere of the Sanctuary has produced and continues to produce true goodness, true good.
Now I thank you for your presence, I thank dearest Luciano who thought of this and my thanks are boundless because I’m really obliged. Be so kind, and let’s remember one another. Your prayers have descended here on this altar while the memory of you has descended in my heart; in the same way, let’s be together so that Our Lady may assist us and one day may the celebration be totally solemn and immortal, to be able to enjoy Heaven forever, because it is the most beautiful thing. At present, let’s live peacefully as long as we can on this poor earth, together with Our Lady and Our Beloved Lord. For this I bless you, may it be with you not only today but for all your life.
For the intercession of the Virgin the Source of Mercy, the blessing of Our Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit may descend upon you in its fullness and power and may be with you forever.
Thank you, my children, thank you.