The ongoing agony of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI) has been extensively covered on this blog. I remain convinced that the actions taken against that vibrant and growing order were wholly unjust and profoundly disturbing.
I have had a book written by the FFI’s founder, Fr. Stefano Manelli, for some time. It was distributed at our parish when some FFI’s came to visit. This Devotion To Our Ladyis a most glorious book. I do not hesitate to say that Fr. Manelli comes the closest to the awesome writings of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori of any modern Church author I’ve read. I think you will find the same in the excerpt below. That makes the very severe, some might even say savage, treatment he has received since he was forcibly removed as Superior of the Franciscans of the Immaculate all the more troubling.
The following excerpts are from the Foreword of the book:
The more Marian we are, the more Christian we are. The more fully we belong to Our Lady, the more Jesus will claim us as His own. The more we resemble the Mother of God, the more we will resemble our Divine Brother, Jesus, “Son of the virginity” of Mary (St. Ambrose). Becoming true images of Jesus in Mary is the genuine fruit of devotion to Our Lady.
As St. John the Evangelist, in receiving Our Lady, “took her into his own” (Jn XIX:27), so may it be granted us to welcome Our Lady in the dwelling of our hearts…….
……..IF we do not have true Marian devotion, then we ought to beg for it as did St. Francis de Sales: “My God, when shall we have the Grace that the Holy Virgin might be born in our hearts?”
But if we already have the Grace of devotion to Our Lady, we should apply all zeal and every effort for its increase, since salvation and sanctification depend on Our Lady’s living presence in our lives as well as in the life of the whole Church. “Mary,” says St. Bernard, “is the whole reason for our hope.” St. Louis Grignon de Montfort preached the same. St. Alphonsus M. Liguori taught likewise; and this was the firm conviction of St. John Bosco: in a famous dream he saw a ship, representing the Church, standing firm and victorious in the midst of the tempest because it was anchored to two immovable pillars – the Eucharist and the Immaculate.
Our Lady saves us. Our Lady gives us life. Our Lady enriches us with God. With the Holy Spirit she repeats to us: “he who finds me, finds life, and will have salvation from the Lord” (Pr VIII:35). And again: “With me are riches and glory….that I may enrich them that love me” (Pr VIII:18,21). It was not without reason that St. Pius X proposed devotion to Our Lady as a primary means to restore all things to Christ in the Church and in the world.
Let us, then, love Our Lady. We make our own the last recommendation of St. Pio of Pietrelcina: “Love Our Lady and bring others to love Her. Always recite the Rosary.” Let us love Our Lady without ever saying we have loved her enough; rather, let us promote a holy rivalry in order to be the generation giving the most glory to Mary.
One of the aspects that most characterizes St. Alphonsus’ copious writings are his constant use of quotes from Saints and Scripture to buttress his arguments or catechesis. Fr. Manelli’s writings seem very similar in that respect, and in fact in tone, form, and content seem almost modeled on the writings of the Great Moral Doctor.
Which, to reiterate, makes the shameful treatment he is receiving at present all the more amazing. But, many of Christ’s most devoted Saints have experienced similar or worse, so perhaps we should not be surprised.
But from what I’ve read thus far, I will not be surprised to see Fr. Manelli raised to the altars at some point in the not too distant future.