Feb 27th: Feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

 ". . . our perfection does not consist in doing big and exceptional things, but in doing well the common things . . . and those which pertain to our particular occupation, because the merit of our actions comes entirely from the interior dispositions with which they are performed.  God does not regard so much what we do, as how we do it." (St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows)


Reading biographies of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, one wonders how Francis Possenti went from a life attached to the world, to a life of almost perfect virtue practically overnight.  In the scriptures, Christ condemns the lukewarm.  These are the hardest to convert.  But those who are full of energy and enthusiasm, though attached to the pleasures of the world, once converted give themselves wholeheartedly to Christ.  Francis Possenti was one of these.  He was a young man full of life.  Though he was excited by the pleasures of the world, when his zeal was redirected towards the service of God he truly flourished and found what he was made for.  His heart was made to be wholly given--and he would give it totally to the world or God.  Like another young saint, Therese, he could not be a saint by halves.

What was Francis' secret to holiness?  How was he captured by the love of Christ.  The name he received as a religious reveals his secret: Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.  He abandoned himself completely, totally to Mary.  He truly belonged to her.  It was Mary who called Francis out of the world, who gently rebuked him for dragging his feet in taking the step to become a religious.  Mary revealed to him the heart of her Crucified Son.  And Mary was Gabriel's secret to attaining holiness quickly and relatively easily.  St. Louis de Monfort, about a century before Gabriel lived, made the bold claim that indeed giving ourselves entirely to Mary is the quickest, easiest, and surest way to holiness.  He wrote: "we make more progress in a brief period of submission to and dependence on Mary than in whole years of following our own will and relying upon ourselves."  Gabriel did indeed reach sanctity in a brief period, dying at the age of twenty-four.  He gave up his will entirely, even his goal of becoming a priest.

St. Gabriel did nothing extraordinary to attain this life of virtue--nothing that we cannot do.  He surrendered himself to Jesus through Mary and lived his state in life faithfully, with all the zeal of a young man in love.  He did all for love of God and saw the eternal meaning in the tasks of everyday life.

The Way to Interior Recollection

"You should not be philosophizing so much about yourself.  Walk in good faith, follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ, continue your prayer, and always base yourself on the Divine Mysteries of the holy Life and Passion of Jesus, our Life.  This is the secure way from which is born interior recollection, the gift of remaining in internal solitude in the Divine Presence, without danger of deceit.  Never should you leave sight of your Divine Exemplar, Jesus , in his sufferings.  'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me,' our Divine Master himself told us." (From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross to Thomas Fossi, May 30, 1752)

Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ: Friday before Ash Wednesday

In anticipation of the Season of Lent, on the Friday before Ash Wednesday, Passionists celebrate the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Titular Feast of our Congregation.  On this Feast we contemplate the suffering and sacrifice of Christ, "the greatest and most overwhelming work of God's love" (St. Paul of the Cross)  We look to Our Lady of Sorrows and our Passionist Saints to teach us how to keep alive the memory of the Passion, as we remain with them at the Foot of the Cross.

"Happy is that person who, clothed with Jesus Christ and totally penetrated by his holy wounds, is entirely immersed and hidden in the immense sea of divine charity and there, detached from every created thing, rests in the bosom of the beloved Good!  The Lord does this divine work in humble souls who remain in interior solitude, even in the midst of the noise of this world's business." (From a letter of St. Paul of the Cross to Thomas Fossi, July 6, 1752)

The Contemplative Passionist Life