3rd Sunday of LentMarch 26, 2000
B Readings: Exod. 20:1-17 1 Cor. 1:22-25
The focus of our Lenten pilgrimage to Calvary is clearly defined on this
third Sunday of Lent. Today we hear the words of St. Paul in the second reading
to the Corinthians in spiritual admonition, Jews demand signs and Greeks
look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews
and foolishness to Gentiles. . . . Christ accepted suffering and death
to take away the sins of the worlda willing acceptance
of that which most of us spend a lifetime trying to avoid. In Christ, then,
is to be found a model of living; by accepting sufferings in our own lives
we can unite ourselves more closely to the Lord who suffered for all. His
Passion and crucifixion are not only a tremendous and painful sacrifice,
they are the means by which Almighty God deigned to redeem the world. In
the Providence of God our suffering also has merit, especially when united
to (as St. Paul says in the second reading) Christ the power of God
and the wisdom of God. It is in the understanding of the
providence of God that the sufferings of Christ and our own share
of sufferings here in this life make sense.
Louis Guanella was born on a farm in the Italian Alps in 1842.
He grew up knowing the hard work of mountain people and was skilled in
agriculture and carpentry. Above all, from his devout Catholic parents he
learned that a loving spirit in sacrifice can work miracles. Through the
sacrifice of family and friends he was able to attend the seminary and was
ordained a priest in 1866. Don Guanella was to become an apostle for the
relief of suffering in Italy, Switzerland and even the United States. He
was motivated by the notion that The heart of a Christian, who believes
and feels, cannot pass by the hardship and deprivations of the poor without
helping them (p. 222f, Modern Saints, Ann Ball, Tan Publishing,
Father Guanella would spend his entire life dedicated to those who suffered
incurable diseases, the physically and mentally handicapped, and the aged
who had been abandoned by family and friends. These were the people whom
Providence had sent for Christianity to receive its practical
application. Don Guanella worked closely with the spiritual greats
of his day, Don Bosco at the Oratory of Turin and Pope Pius X. In order that
the work would continue he founded the Servants of Charity and the Daughters
of St. Mary of Providence to relieve the suffering and maintain the dignity
of societys outcasts.
The work of Father Guanella suffered greatly at the hands of anticlericals,
socialists and the freemasons. He was often under the watchful eye of the
police; people could only marvel at what the motivation was for such acts
of charity and relief of suffering. In 1890 when the House of Providence
in Como, Italy was burned to the ground by an anticlerical mob, Don Guanella
comforted the two hundred poor and suffering who lived there by housing them
that night in the local church. Father Guanella encouraged them to tell God,
Lord, in your design you have permitted that our house be burned down!
We will stay here in yours! (p. 225, Modern Saints).
Don Guanella did much to aid suffering earthquake victims in Italy in 1905
and 1915. World War I was another occasion to provide relief and shelter
for refugees. Faith in action, Faith which was a sacrificethis was
not only the Lenten credo of Don Louis Guanella, it was his daily credo.
Father Guanella died on October 24, 1915 after spending a lifetime of uniting
human suffering and sacrifice to the sacrifice and suffering of Jesus thereby
giving it true meaning unto eternal life.
This third Sunday of Lent finds us almost midway on our spiritual pilgrimage
to Calvary. We must move forward walking confidently with Christ. Renew today
your Lenten resolutions made on Ash Wednesday. If you have failed or neglected
that which you embraced enthusiastically at the beginning of Lent, begin
anew today. All good works, all sacrifices, all prayer redounds to the glory
The spiritual classic, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á
Kempis, encourages us in proclaiming Christ crucified:
Had you not gone before and shown us the way, who would have even tried
to follow you? How many would have lagged behind had they not your blessed
example before their eyes! We are still slow and lukewarm, though we have
heard of all your miracles and doctrine; what would we be if we had not your
life to guide us?
(p. 137, Ch. 18, Book Three, Catholic Book Publishers, 1977)
During this holy Lenten season let us proclaim Christ crucifiedan absurdity
to the world, but to those of us called, the wisdom of God.
Suggested reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 572, 605-618, 1508,
Reverend Robert P. Clark, a priest of the Diocese of New Ulm,
Minn., was ordained in 1984. He received his M.A. in theology from Mount
St. Marys Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He has served as a high school
teacher, associate pastor and pastor. Currently he serves at the Church of
St. Agnes and is a member of the faculty of St. Agnes schools in St. Paul,
Minn. His last series of homilies appeared in January 1999.