Marian thought for February
“I believe that, after the name of Jesus, there is no name through which the faithful receive so much grace, so much hope and so much consolation. Like St. Bonaventure, I believe that your name cannot be pronounced without bearing spiritual fruit. As you revealed to St. Bridget, I believe that there is no soul so cold nor so far from God that will not be freed from the Evil One if he or she invokes your holy name”
(St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows).
Saint Gabriel was born in 1838 in Assisi, Italy. He was given the name Francis at his Baptism. He was the tenth of thirteen children, and his father was a judge. His mother passed away when he was just four years old, so his father was the one who taught him the Faith. The education he received from his father helped dominate his tough character, thus forming in him a docile personality.
During his youth, his favorite books were novels. Soon Francis discovered that while they were pleasing and produced a momentary emotion in him, they left a deep void and sadness in his soul.
Francis was admitted to the congregation of the Passionists at 17 years of age. His life became a constant search for perfection in small things. He stood out for his prayer, charity toward the poor, love for his neighbor, exact observance of the rule and a constant desire for mortification.
He unveils his change and its origin in a letter to a friend:
“Dear friend, if you truly love your soul, shun evil companions, shun the theatre. I know by experience how very difficult it is while entering such places in the state of grace, to come away without either having lost it, or at least exposed it to great danger. Shun pleasure-parties, and shun evil books. I assure you that if I had remained in the world, it seems certain to me that I would not have saved my soul. Tell me, could anyone have indulged in more amusements than I? Well, and what is the result? Nothing but bitterness and fear. Forgive me if I was a bad example and beg God to forgive me.”
After just four years in the Passionists, the first symptoms of tuberculosis appeared. He bore this illness with admirable patience and joy even though it impeded him from fulfilling his duties of community life. He died of tuberculosis on February 27, 1862.
Shortly after his death, miracles were obtained through his intercession. He was canonized in 1926 and proclaimed Patron of Lay Youth Dedicated to Apostolic Works.