On the 16th of October we, the Redemptorist family celebrate the feast of St Gerard Majella. On this occasion, we have an Online Triduum preached by Fr. Ivel Mendanha, CSsR, General Consultor for the preparation of the feast. So, each of these three days in preparation for the feast we will reflect on one important theme dear to St Gerard.
The Themes are:
- Day One: Love for the Crucified Lord
- Day Two: Love for the Eucharistic Lord
- Day Three: Love for Our Blessed Mother
- Feast Day: His love for the Poor
Followed by a Prayer to St Gerard and a Special Prayer: For the Gift of Children.
We will hear each day how St Gerard lived the Will of God as a Redemptorist Brother and Missionary. Each day will be uploaded before the start of the Triduum (from the 11th evening) so that the registered members will have access to the video at any time of the day.
LINK TO VIEW THE VIDEO:
Day One of Triduum: Love for the Crucified Lord
Fr. Ivel Mendanha reflects on the theme of Love for the Crucified Lord.
Any picture or statue of St. Gerard will always have him depicted with the Crucifix by his side of him embracing the crucifix. This is so precisely because Gerard was deeply in love with Jesus Crucified. Gerard was a passionate lover of God whom he addressed as his Most beloved God (il mio carissimo dio).
Gerard had learnt from St. Alphonsus that the Crucified Lord was the deepest expression of God’s love for humanity. God loved us so much that he gave us his Son and the Son loved us so much that he chose to die for us. Gerard saw the cross as a presentation of loving, of loving with the Trinity, a love that overflows. The Father’s love sustains the Son in his amazing expression of their love for us.
The Cross for Gerard was the fullness of love on the one hand and this love that enabled Jesus to do the will of his father with love. At the end of his life, Gerard had understood very well that love for Jesus crucified was expressed by conformity to the will of his beloved God, as Our Lord had also done in the final moments of his agony. Thus, at the end of the summer of 1754, she wrote to Sister Maria de Jesus: “I write to you from below the cross and, because I do not have time to live, I am constrained to write in haste. Sympathize with me in my agony. I have little spirit now. May God be blessed always, who gives me so many graces, that, in exchange of making me die under his holy strokes, he gives me more of the victory of life, filled with torments so that I might be an imitator of my divine Redeemer. He is my master, I his disciple. Rightly so that I must learn from him to follow his divine footsteps.”
Day Two: Love for the Eucharistic Lord
Gerard had a very deep love for the Eucharist. Right from his youth, notes Caione, “Above all it was his modesty that was admirable, with which he used to go through the town and deal with people, his external disposition and reverence, with which he used to stay for hours in the church, before the Blessed Sacrament, that he would so often visit. He had a great desire that others too would visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and animated by his fervour and zealous example many would visit the Blessed Sacrament and then great and inexplicable was his joy.”
This love for the Eucharist increased once he entered the congregation. Popular folklore has it that so often he would be so deeply absorbed before the tabernacle, without realizing the passing of time. From the Eucharist Gerard learnt above all the depth and the generosity of self-giving: the “insanity” of love, to use his own words.
He was “crazy” in concretising his availability in giving himself to his brothers and sisters. Caione observes that, “He especially liked to be tired, in a way that he would never lose any time. When he did not have anything to do, he would seek to help others with their duties… When it was time to bake bread for the community he would do the work of four. He would constantly tell his confreres, Let me do it, go and rest yourselves! He was always recollected and united to God, very often with eyes raised to heaven, more or less in a state of having transcended the senses.”
Day Three of Triduum: Love for Our Blessed Mother
St Gerard always began his letters with the words ‘Jesus and Mary.’ This same aspect was testified to by the witnesses at the process for his beatification, “He always had the sweet names of Jesus and Mary on his lips.”
Gerard’s love for Mary was warm, sincere and rich in spontaneity. His love and adoration for Mary was very much part of the popular Marian piety that he picked up and learnt from his own mother. In his Rules for Life we find the following, “Six Holy Marys with my forehead against the ground in the morning and in the night.” And again, “In all the moments of silence I will devote myself to reflecting on the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and about the sorrows of Mary.”
His love for Mary was so deep that it was enough for him to just pass an image or painting of Mary to send him into raptures and very often into ecstasy. The secret for his tremendous freedom and security lay in his profound belief in the providence of his beloved God and in the maternal intercession of Mary. In his Rules of Life, he chose the Holy Spirit “as my only consoler and protector in all things. Let him be my advocate and conqueror in all my causes.” In the very next line he displays his deep devotion of Mary as he adds, “And you, my only joy, Immaculate Virgin Mary, (I hope that) you will be my second protectress and consolatrix in all that must happen to me. And with regard to these resolutions of mine, may you ever be my only advocate before God.”
Mary was not just a protector from evil for Gerard. He also saw her as a guarantor of his evangelical life, especially with regard to his union and love with his fellow human beings. From Mary Gerard always prayed for grace to be faithful. Gerard was very firmly convinced about the importance of fidelity and the necessity that it be guided and protected by divine assistance and the maternal protection of Mary.
In his Marian devotion and piety, Gerard is totally in tune with Alphonsus who never tires of speaking of the mercy of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her role as intercessor and protector of one’s vocation.
Feast Day: His love for the Poor
There cannot be a true and authentic living of the Christian life without a love for the poor. The ways in which we demonstrate our love for the poor may be varied but as the Synod of Bishops on the theme of the vocation and mission of the laity (1987) stated, “The Holy Spirit enables us to discover clearly that holiness today is not possible without a commitment to justice and without a solidarity with the poor and the oppressed.”
The immediate and generous solidarity that Gerard demonstrated with the needy poor is a basic aspect of his spirituality. The basis for this solidarity lies in the fact that he was born into a poor family and from a very early age he knew personally the many daily hardships that a poor family has to endure. However, this solidarity with the poor is based more on his love for his Redeemer who chose specifically to identify with the abandoned poor.
True charity results in gestures and words that always arise in response to the needs of others. It is being faithful to the example of Christ who came to encounter human beings: he incarnated himself in the concrete situation of the needs of his fellow human beings so as to provide a response that would be an effective help and assistance to them. Charity therefore always is a result of sincerity and respect. Gerard always made sure to avoid any show or the dramatic in his charity thus being faithful to the words of Christ, “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them…But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” (Mt:1, 3). Gerard knew well that the poor were the poor of Christ and that when we respond with sincerity to their needs, we are the first to be enriched by them.
Gerard reached out not just to the poor but also to the poor who were sick and infirm as well carrying for them medicines from the community infirmary. He was especially very attentive and caring towards the disconsolate widows and aged spinsters who could very easily be deceived due to their simplicity and honesty.
One can view the recorded videos uploaded each day on Social media platforms:
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@scalanews8920 (Scala News)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CSsR.en/ (C.Ss.R. – Redemptorists English)