Wednesday, February 27, 2013

St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

Sometimes it is the little things that count. We must use love in even the small details of our life. It is the way we treat people each and every day that makes a difference. It pleases God not only when heroic deeds are done, but when we treat others with compassion. Who knows, the little things might lead you to holiness, much like today's saint, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Francesco Possenti was born in Assisi, to a large professional family, with his father working for the local government. Tough times had struck the Possenti family early on, for Francesco's father had to travel often because of his job, and his mother and two of his sisters had died when he was still young.

Francesco definitely enjoyed living life to its fullest, going to parties, dating different women, and even earning the nickname, "the dancer." Nevertheless, he had multiple brushes with death, which included falling ill and nearly getting struck by a bullet. He vowed to enter religious life after he recovered from these experiences, but it was simply brushed aside. Furthermore, one of his brothers died and another committed suicide. It was not until he fell ill again, that he put his vow into motion and applied to enter the Jesuits. Unfortunately, he was denied, most likely because of his age, but this did not stop him. Again, after another one of his sister's deaths, he applied and was accepted into the Passionist Congregation.

A large part of Francesco's family, including his father, tried adamantly to dissuade him from joining the Passionists, but this was to no avail. After arriving at the novitiate, Francis received his habit and the name "Gabriel of Our Lady of the Sorrows." Gabriel excelled both academically and spiritually, always remaining joyful. He prayed often, loved the poor, and cared about other people's feelings, never failing to focus on the small things. At this time, Gabriel started showing the first signs of tuberculosis, but this did not slow him down in the least bit.  His peers remained by his side, and he maintained strict observance of Passionist followings, showing amazing devotion towards the Virgin Mary.

Gabriel would have his writings burnt, for fear of the temptation of pride. And, before being ordained, Gabriel passed. However, immediately before his death, it is said that he sat up, with his face radiant, grabbing for a figure that was not visible. Some believe that he had seen the Virgin Mary.

Gabriel displayed valiant virtues in the short time that he was alive. He never gave up, he always kept a smile on his face. He was meticulous in his love, caring for every single person, no one was insignificant in St. Gabriel's eyes. St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows is a true example to both young and old of how we should treat other people and how we should live our lives as children of God.


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