Novena to Blessed Joseph Allamano in the context of the Year of Mercy

 

 

 

Prayer for Blessed Joseph Allamano

God Our Father, we thank you for having numbered Joseph Allamano among the Blessed of the Church. He has made your fatherly tenderness shine among us; he has honoured Mary Consolata as a mother full of love and an inspiration of the Mission among the peoples. We request you to give to the church the joy of venerating him among the saints as an exemplary witness of announcing Jesus and His gospel. We humble implore you through his intercession to grant us what our heart requests you with confidence. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Day 1

Open our hearts to hope. According to St. Augustine we build the edifice of our holiness with hope. Note the important role he assigns to hope. Generally speaking this virtue does not enjoy the universal respect it deserves. We recognize the obligation to believe but we are afraid of being too hopeful, too optimistic. We accept discouragement as something beneficial that reflects fear of Lord.

This certainly was not the case with Cafasso – he was a man of hope. He possessed this virtue to an eminent degree. He had so much hope it was contagious. When someone remarked that the gate to heaven was narrow he replied, “Fine, we’ll go in one at a time.” He could communicate hope even to those condemned to death. He would give them messages to bring to Our Lady and after their deaths he would exclaim – one more saint! He even added “those rascals are stealing heaven away from us!” He could convert despair into the most beautiful trust. We must never despair of anyone. God’s mercy is infinite. When people ask what was Cafasso’s principal virtue it is hard to answer: they were all principal. Some think the zeal for souls was principal. Others would say his confidence in God – and he did indeed have enough confidence for himself and others as well.

Hope or confidence in God was certainly one of his striking characteristics. I testified to this in the beatification process. Some have a lively faith but little hope – they have trouble opening their hearts.

Let us open our hearts to living hope. We should not just hope – we should “superhope” – hope against hope. When we have little hope we are doing the Lord an injustice “He desires all people to be saved” (I Timothy 2,4). Some people think of their salvation as winning the lottery. People say: “I’m not sure whether or not I will win the lottery.” Similarly some say: “I’m not sure whether or not I will be saved.” This is not the way things should be. We must count on salvation because the Lord knows our weaknesses – all we need is a little good will. We should never be afraid of having too much hope. At the moment of his death St. Hilarion said to himself – “You have served the Lord for seventy years and now are you afraid of dying?” We should never say, “Who knows if I will be saved?” Rather “I want to be saved and will therefore correct my faults and not lose courage.” The fear of not being saved comes from laziness. We must get up and work – as the saints did. We must not lose courage because of our past sins. It is not a bad thing to think of these past sins – it keeps us humble – but we should not be obsessive as if the Lord had not forgiven them. The Lord will be pleased if we concentrate on His kindness and mercy. Therefore hope and hope energetically. In You, O Lord, I have hoped and I shall not be confounded in eternity! (This I want you to be, 91)

 

Day 2

To be apostles we need fire. Seeking the peace of a monastery as a means to avoid work is not love of God. This is the time of work and sacrifice! Let us make our own the words of Paul: “I do everything for the Gospel” (I Corinthians 9,23). Everything! I will wear myself out, I will sacrifice myself. We must present the Lord not vague intentions or desires but genuine apostolic work. St. Bernard says an apostle must be enflamed with charity, filled with knowledge and constant. The genuine apostle is enflamed with charity, with the passion to know and make Our Lord known; he seeks not his own good but that of others. Jesus said, “I came to bring fire to the earth and how I would like to see it spread!” (Luke 12,49). An apostle must have fire. If we are neither hot nor cold, if we are only lukewarm we will never succeed in anything. A human being is alive to the extent that he works for love of God. We can maintain intimacy with the Lord and work at the same time. If there is love, there is zeal: this means that we will never be reluctant nor will we place any limit on our devotion to the missions. What we can do today must never be put off until tomorrow. Those who do not burn with this divine fire will never be missionaries! Our apostolic commitment must be supported and perfected by knowledge. I have already spoken to you about this. We must be knowledgeable and therefore we must study; we must begin right now to learn all that is necessary and not expect a later miraculous infusion of knowledge. A parish priest wrote to me: “There is a cleric here that isn’t very intelligent – but good enough to be a missionary.” This is outrageous! Not ‘good enough to be a missionary’ – keep him yourself. The missions need knowledgeable people.

Finally, the genuine apostle is stable – he is both patient and constant. Constancy means not getting discouraged when results are disappointing. St. Bernard tells us “God expects you to treat an illness – not cure it.” In other words we must proclaim the Gospel and God will work the conversions. We are eager to do good and long for the day we can accomplish something. To long for the day we will leave for the missions is a good thing as long as our goal is to proclaim the Gospel. We need not worry there is room and work for everyone. Let us take courage! The Lord thirsts for souls and it’s up to us to quench that thirst. He wants everyone to know the truth and achieve salvation and He wants us to be the instrument to accomplish this. If we could only understand God’s will in this. We must cultivate these feelings beginning right now; we must prepare for mission with prayer, study and work; we must do this preparation conscientiously because one day it will help us do good. During Eucharistic Adoration we sing Psalm 116 which has special meaning for missionaries. It is almost a duet between evangelizers and those being evangelized. In the first verse the people are called to give glory to God: “Praise the Lord, all you peoples; give him glory all you nations” (v. 1). The second verse expresses our gratitude for the Lord’s mercy: “because his love for us is great and his faithfulness endures forever” (v. 2). All of us together – we and they – are united joyously in a song of praise and thanksgiving to God for calling people to the faith. (This I want you to be, 122)

 

Day 3

How should we participate in the celebration of Mass? First of all by renewing our faith: we must have a vital faith and an ardent charity as if we were standing on Calvary itself. We must bear in mind that this is a renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross and we must pray that our participation in it will bear fruit. We must let our heart speak words of praise to the Lord – if we speak from the heart we need no words. We must trust His mercy and offer ourselves to Him. We must thank Him for all He has given us. When we participate in the Mass we must concentrate on Jesus’ sacrifice to the Father and pray that we might offer ourselves along with Him. We must be eager to take part in the Mass.

Participating spiritually in all Eucharistic celebrations throughout the world is an excellent idea. “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 1,11). We can share spiritually in so very many Masses! (This I want you to be, 147)

 

Day 4

Willingly in His presence. Let us make our visits to the Blessed Sacrament with faith and devotion. Let us remain willingly in His presence. Even in the missions you will continue to visit Jesus in the chapels and bring your thoughts and feelings to Him day and night. He will be your center. How pleased I am that through us God is multiplying the number of tabernacles in the world.

So many new tabernacles! They are the focus of love for us and mercy for the people. How blest we

are to have already so many in our missions. I believe, nay I am convinced, that they bring down blessings on those lands.

Only the Lord can truly comfort us if we seek Him out – He is the source of all consolation. We may tell Him anything and He will listen, He will comfort us in our suffering and help us bear up. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament keep our faith alive. I want you to be so attached to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament that you cannot live without Him. When it is time to make a visit you are happy and eager; never regret whatever job may be interrupted.

If the Lord granted us the grace of daily adoration – day and night – like the Blessed Sacrament Fathers we would be happy. May we one day have perpetual adoration! Many congregations already practice this. I certainly want there to be continual adoration from the moment of my death until I am buried. Remember this when you are in the missions. The more time we pass in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament – the more time we want to spend there. Conversation with Him is never boring. During your visits speak to Jesus but let Him speak too. Remain with Him as you would with a friend. If you are devoted to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament you cannot fail to be holy missionaries. (This I want you to be, 151)

 

Day 5

A big heart. Love of God and love of our neighbor are so closely connected that we could call them a single love. Love of our neighbor must be supernatural – that is it must come from God and return to Him. Whoever loves his neighbor loves him in God and through God. It follows that whoever loves God must necessarily love his neighbor. We do not genuinely love our neighbor if we do so only because we like him, we hope to get something from him or there is some passion involved. Love of neighbor is a commandment the Lord refers to as “His own” and “new”: “This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15,12). “I am giving you a new commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you so you must love each other” (John 13,34).

St. Gregory the Great says that if we do not love our neighbor we should not proclaim the Gospel. St. Laurence Giustiniani agrees saying evangelization is essentially an act of charity and how can one communicate the fire if one does not have it? Missionaries must have a big heart overflowing with compassion for their brethren. Were they not led to become missionaries out of the desire to do good for their neighbors and save souls?

For a priest especially – everything reinforces this love of neighbor: at the altar he, like the sacrificial victim, offers himself to the Lord for the remission of his sins and the sins of the people; the sacrament of reconciliation where he exercises charity, patience and compassion; this holds true for all of his services. The priest and more especially the missionary is the man of charity. “Charity thinks no evil” (I Corinthians 13,5). I am not talking about those fleeting thoughts or judgments that pass through our mind and which we forget or ignore. I am referring to voluntary and consensual rash judgments. We ignore our neighbor’s many good qualities and focus on his small defects. Not infrequently we judge his intentions – something only God can do. “Man looks at appearances and God sees the heart” (I Samuel 16,7). Even when we see something that is clearly wrong we must excuse the intention involved - ignorance or inadvertence. Our Lord has warned us: “Judge not lest you be judged, condemn not and you will not be condemned” (Luke 6,27). In the Imitation of Christ we read: “Look at yourself and do not rush to judge the actions of others.” St. Francis de Sales tells us “If an action has a hundred interpretations look at the best one.” How often we see the speck in our brother’s eye and ignore the beam in our own. “The measure with which you measure unto others will be measured out to you” (Luke 6,38). (This I want you to be, 130)

 

Day 6

During Lent the Church makes frequent use of Psalm 50 – the Miserere – in the Liturgy of the Hours. This is especially appropriate since it is a penitential psalm composed by David after he had sinned. The psalm teaches us about fear, hope and good intentions. Let us examine it and apply it to ourselves.

The Miserere can be divided into two parts. First David lists five reasons why the Lord should be merciful to him. The first is God’s great mercy and His infinite compassion for our misery: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love” (verse 1). O Lord according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Act not in accordance with your justice but rather with your kindness: “Cleanse me from all my faults” (verse 4).

The second reason is David’s recognition of his own lowliness and sincere hatred of his sin: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (verse 5). Therefore sin is no longer within but before me and this keeps me humble. The third reason is that the offense was only against God and only from God can he receive pardon: “Against You, against You alone have I sinned” (verse 6). The fourth reason is that he deserves compassion since we are all weak and inclined to do evil. I do not want to excuse my sin – no it torments me – but I have been prone to evil since my birth: “Behold I was born in sin and in sin did my mother conceive me” (verse 7). The fifth reason invokes the grace and favor already granted. You, O Lord, had done so much for me before I ever sinned. Now cleanse me so that I can regain Your friendship: “You desire sincerity of heart and teach me wisdom in my inward being” (verse 8). After this list of motives David expresses his confidence that he will be saved (second part of the psalm): “Grant me the joy of being saved” (verse 14). And he promises to teach others the ways of the Lord: “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will return to You” (verse 15). This is how we should study and apply this psalm to our own circumstances. In this psalm each of us will find and profit from God’s inspiration. To make a sincere act of penance we need only pray the Miserere slowly and thoughtfully. Learn this and it will help you in the missions. Reciting the Miserere well is a consolation. (This I want you to be, 68)

 

Day 7

We can never be too devoted to Our Lady. Her motherly tenderness is part of her Son’s plan.She is aware of the price He paid for us and she knows God’s specific will that all be saved. Never be afraid of being too devoted to Our Lady or of giving her too much honor. The more we love her, the more we have recourse to her the more we please Jesus. She is worthy of all the honorific titles Christian piety assigns to her; she well deserves her reputation as the Mother of mercy and compassion. She is honored and addressed as the Protectress of the holy souls in Purgatory. She is truly the Blessed Virgin and Queen, Mother and Comforter of the souls in Purgatory. Remember without devotion to Our Lady we will never accomplish anything for ourselves or others. (This I want you to be, 156)

 

Day 8

His mercy extends from generation to generation. The Magnificat is made up of words from Scripture. It is ten verses long and is divided into three parts. In the first part Mary rejoices at the benefits God has conferred upon her, especially the Divine Motherhood: “My soul magnifies the Lord because he has looked upon his handmaid …” The Lord looked at her lowliness, at the nothingness of His handmaid; He raised her up and accomplished marvelous things in her so that all generations will be filled with wonder and will call her blessed! In the second part Mary rejoices in the benefits God has bestowed on mankind over the centuries: “His mercy extends from generation to generation …” First to the chosen people and then to the gentiles and all who fear the Lord. “The Lord has done great things with his arm …” What are these great things? He has humbled the proud and lifted up the lowly; He has satisfied those who hunger for justice and truth. “He has filled the hungry with good things …” This means the Lord is always ready to fill with good things those who desire Him. In the third part Mary speaks of the sovereign benefit of the Redemption that through the conception of Jesus has begun in her and will extend to all future generations, “as He promised to Abraham.” In Abraham all generations had been blessed because from his seed would come the Redeemer. We should meditate often on the Magnificat; we should pray and sing it with the spirit and enthusiasm of Our Lady; we should share her feelings. (This I want you to be, 164)

 

Day 9

After the Hail Mary the most beautiful and useful Marian prayer is the Hail Holy Queen. St. Alphonsus called the Salve “the most fervent of prayers: it describes wonderfully the mercy and power of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” The prayer is made up of three parts. The first part, “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope!” is an introduction and addresses Mary with five honorific titles. Our Lady is both Queen and Mother. She is a “Queen” – a title repeated so many times in the Litany of Loreto. She is the “Mother of Mercy” given to us by Our Lord. She shares the other three titles with Jesus who is our true “life,” “sweetness,” and “hope.” The second part of the prayer is a petition. We ask Our Lady to assist us in this “vale of tears” and be our advocate with her Son. We ask her to grant us the grace we need here on earth so that we may one day see and enjoy the blessed fruit of her womb: Jesus! The third part of the prayer is an appeal. It is said that these final invocations come from St. Bernard of Clairvaux. People were singing the Salve Regina in a church and when they reached the end St. Bernard cried out “O clement, o loving, o sweet Virgin Mary!” The saints loved this prayer as they did the Hail Mary. (This I want you to be, 168)

 

Prayer to Our Lady Consolata

V: Pray for us, Virgin Consolata

R: Intercede for your people

O God, through the virgin Mary you gave to your people the true Consolation, Jesus Christ.

Grant that we, who venerate Her as Consolata, may cooperate together with Her to the work of Redemption. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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