Memorial of Blessed Maria Gabriella
St. John writes, “Greater love than this no one has, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). Blessed Maria Gabriella was inspired by the example of her senior, a 78 year old nun, Mother Immacolata, to offer herself for Christian Unity. The elderly nun, who was doubled over by age and illness, offered what little time she had left for Christian Unity.
Blessed Maria Gabriella asked her Abbess if she could do the same. Mother Pia replied, “The desire to offer one’s life is not uncommon, and I think it is a need felt by every generous soul, especially in the cloistered life. You don’t have anything but yourself because everything else has already been given. … But it is rare to encounter balanced persons who are capable of being consistent with what they promise.”1 She did not refuse Maria Gabriella’s request, but left it up to the Lord’s will. That very night Maria Gabriella felt the first stabs of pain from tuberculosis. It would take her life two years later, at age 25.
We may ask, what if she had not died so young. Would that have been a sign God did not accepted her offering? No, because in her offering she said, “Do with me whatever you will, but use my life to re-establish the unity of the Church.” That could have meant forty years of sweeping floors and working in the garden. She made the offering, God decided how it would be fulfilled.
Inspired by her example what can we do? Could we offer our lives for the unity of all people to save both the victim children of abortion and the erring adults? “Greater love than this no one has, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”