Our Lady of Sorrows
Lentini is life, not works like so many Saints. The only exception to this he grants to the Virgin of Sorrows. He is such a devotee that he consoles her and wants that there be a little group, the Thirty, who pledge themselves to pray and console Mary's Sorrows. The witnesses of his Canonical Process call it a sort of Sodality. It was revived on 2 of February 1989: a few months after the (Beatification) miracle, but it was formerly prayed on various occasions. Those enrolled to date at the 20 November 1998 number 3230, of whom 2800 came to enrol at Lauria(PZ). It was organised according to the method used by Lentini, namely each one pledges themselves on one day of the month to remember and pray to Our Lady of Sorrows. Any prayer whatever will suffice. There is moreover a leaflet of prayers, namely 1) The Divine Mercy Stations of the Cross. 2) Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. 7) Mary's Seven Dolors. For whoever comes to Lauria, we do the enrolment with the Consecration to the Cross and the imposition of a tiny crucifix. Whoever cannot come to Lauria, can be enrolled at a distance like it is said later, but everybody is recommended to wear some sort of Crucifix.
One of my sermons in the Little House
LENTINI, A LIVING GOOD FRIDAY
next to Mary at the foot of the Cross
The most beautiful image of Mary is that in which the evangelist puts her at the foot of the Cross: "Stabat Mater juxta crucem lacrimosa". On the Cross there is her Son the Saviour of the world. On the Cross there is placed the mystery of man's pain: a mystery that's hard for the mind and that's hard to live it in the flesh. But it is precisely the Cross that is God's answer and proposition to human suffering:- to accept it with love because God goes through it with love.
God does not love man's pain and death, which are, on the contrary, signs and scourges of his distancing himself from the fountain of life which is God. It is in fact Satan's deceit which generates the bitter sadness of pain and death. God, nonetheless, in his Infinite Mercy towards man, descends in human flesh and goes through its whole experience right up to death in order to offer us his Complete Easter, which is Life, Joy and Peace; to be a Cross in the Cross. He asks this from everybody and firstly from his Immaculate Mother. And behold her there, Mary, at the foot of the Cross with her profound pain and love, with her obedience and immolation to save her lost children. Mary was there to knead - with her pain and love - the Bread of Life of her Crucified Son.
Whoever has pain, sadness and anguish, let him think how Mary stood near the Cross:- tearful yes, but confident in God. Let nobody despise or curse pain. Let him think and let himself be guided by the Mother of Sorrows.
Someone or other wanted to make an aesthetic image of this Woman of Sorrows. Someone else places it as a symbol of woman's history in southern Italy, like Verga did in his play "I Malavoglia" with the woman from Longa when she lost her son in the battle of Lissa. She was caught up with a great devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows who was on the altar of their little church. And it seemed to her that - that long body which was spread out on His Mother's knees. with its dark ribs and the knees red with blood - was the portrait of her Luke. Every evening when the young ladies went there to attend Benediction, and Cirino used rattle the keys before locking up - they used see her there always, at that place depressed on her knees, and they even called her the mother of sorrows " (Verga, I Malavoglia, published by Mondadori, 1953, page 137).
Woman, behold your son
There is not an artist that is not struck by the beauty which pain gives to Mary and it is said that without pain Mary would have been incomplete. And undoubtedly it's the transforming force of pain which engrandeurs our miserable existence and mitigates it as in these days of the drama of Princess Diana. This may indeed be true: but God does not make his Mother suffer for an esthetical reason!
In the Divine Plan Mary's Pain regenerates humanity in the Crucified Jesus: "in dolore paries!" And it is from the very height of the Cross that Mary is proclaimed the Mother of all mankind: Woman, behold your son! And to John: Behold, your Mother! Two phrases which say the same thing: rejoice, you woman, because in your immemse pain you have opened the door of the New and Immaculate Generation; rejoice, you John, you man, you human race, because in the Mystery of the Crucified One the Church is born, Humanity is born as God's Spouse, and mankind, as in the beginning, will go back to hearing the silent steps of God's Friendship. It is the Great Return to the Happiness of Eden. That Woman which Jesus addresses as the Mother of the Cross is the summons or call-back and God's fidelity to the Woman of Genesis: the Woman of the Redeemer's Seed.
How are we to respond to the Divine Proposal of the Cross?
Let our response be like Mary's, like the Apostle John's, and like that of our Fr Dominic Lentini. Mary accepts standing in the Sorrow of the Cross and bearing her Motherly Tears throughout the long history of man's deicide, and with fullness she embraces all of us at the foot of the Cross. And She, as Mother of the Crucified, invites us to the School of the Cross in order to be children of the Cross, apostles of the Cross, mothers of the Cross, and for that reason she does not want to and she cannot be on her own at the Cross. And already there, at Calvary, there were the pious women and above all the Apostle John, the Apostle of the heart who welcomes Jesus' handing over: "Behold, your Mother", and from that moment he took her with him. There, at the Cross, throughout the bimillenium history of the Church, many have let themselves be attracted in an embrace of reciprocal love between Mother and Son, and have been able to see in Mary the narrow but holy road for going to God.
And what about Lentini? A Living Good Friday next to Our Lady of Sorrows
Lentini too will be at the foot of the Cross near Our Lady of Sorrows and he will do what John does: he takes her with him. I like to call Lentini: our Little John of Lauria. And I think that it may not be chance that - at the right hand side of Lentini's tomb - Lanziani painted the Crucifixion in order to "icon"icize and remind us that Lentini for the whole of his life was prostrated at the feet of the Crucified: with Mary and like John.
And if the pious women were there together with John, then likewise with Lentini there will be the little group of thirty: a kind of sodality who in turns on one day of the month pledged themselves to remember Mary's Sorrows.
Fr Dominic has the priestly intuition and wants a daily contemplation which would go up to heaven from Lauria and nowadays, since the 2 February 1989, three thousand of us, scattered throughout the world and in our own southern Italy in particular, are again on our knees, in Lentini's name and with Lentini, to raise up this daily contemplation to the Mother of a thousand Sorrows.
The originality of this constant and daily prayer to the Woman of the Crucified One makes Lentini: A Living Good Friday beside Our Lady of Sorrows. In fact, Fr Mattias Forestieri, says: (and he was the nephew of Fr Venanzio Sarubbi, the son of Domenica Lentini, our saint's eldest sister)
"On Good Fridays he used not go out of the Church at all - while he meditated on the august mysteries of the Passion and death of the Redeemer." And how could he leave the Church if here - in St. Nicholas' - he lived the living and real mystery of the Pains of his dear Jesus and of his afflicted Mother?
He made so much of the Good Friday Liturgy, but he does no less between the Caffari river and the Three Bridges, with prayers and penances in order to console the Sorrowful Hearts of Jesus and Mary by sacrificing himself and making reparation for the "monster" of sin which renews the death of Jesus and his Mother's weeping.
Of this Good Friday Bread - Lentini nourished himself every day and he nourished others every day too: from the school to the pulpit, from his prayers, from his penance to his charity. And everything always with his heart towards Our Lady of Sorrows, which, as the Priest Fr Joseph Mary Paldi testifies, was the secret of his becoming a saint:
"The means by which Lentini helped himself "to obtain eternal life were penances, detachment from earthly goods and worldly honours, the exercise of all the virtues, the protection of the saints and in particular fervent devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows."
This love of his for Our Lady of Sorrows - he tried to inculcate in others with the pedagogy of a mother. Mary Antoniette Fittipaldi says:
"He used to instil in me time and again devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and more times he made me practise it."
It was then especially dear to him to teach this devotion and communicate it to the sick and their families so that they might accept and value suffering as a kiss of God, as D. Maria Battista Morella tells so well:
"I remember that when he went to visit some sick person he brought along an image of Our Lady of Sorrows around which were the instruments of the Passion and he used make those present contemplate it".
Let us make Lentini's times return!
I see as being real and current, for us today, this showing of Our Lady of Sorrows in the homes of the sick. May Lentini, therefore, come again, to us sick of today, to hold up his sweet Mother of Sorrows and help us to contemplate her and bring her into our environment, our families, but above all into our hearts. There are so many ills as a matter of fact, but they reduce to one: we are sick in heart because we are without the Heart of Mary's Crucified One. The breezes of suicide and the sirens of discord in families and civil life tell us that Lentini's times are faraway. This is not a reproof but a living proof that was experienced by the people of Lauria already after the death of the Saint. With Fr Dominic alive many and grave problems were overcome such as famine, hunger, landslides, drought, brigands and even death, like what happened to little Peter Cantisani from Taverna in Postiere: "Call Fr Dominic!" he shouted at a relative in the face of the dead eyes of the young child. And Fr Dominic immediately came and the baby revived. I did not read about this episode in the written testimonies, but years ago it was referred to me personally by a nephew of the resurrected child, who came by the way from Moliterno in order to give witness about it. That old person from Moliterno was joyous, for having satisfied this desire of his grandfather, and many times he told me: "Fr Dominic came, he breathed and my grandfather came back to live!"
All this manna of Lentini's intercession, after his death, weakened, to the extent that people used say: "Lentini's times are no more!" Let us make these times come back again! It is sufficient to want it and let this be the very first grace that we ask our Blessed for: to heal us in heart with his heart. A new heart that we already want to ask Our Lady of Sorrows this evening for: (viz.) Lentini's heart, that heart all love and charity because it was a heart of the Cross!
Fucci Vincenzo, The Sodality of Our Lady of Sorrows is reborn at Lauria, in Basilicata seven, supplement of Avvenire (magazine) dated 16/11/97.
Pisani (biographer), quoted on page 90
Riccio Don Mario, The Sodality of Our Lady of Sorrows, 1994. (Click to view)
Dominic Lentini, an ascetic contemplative in southern Italy , Morcelliana, Brescia, 1997.
Whoever wants to be enrolled in Lentini's Sodality of Our Lady of Sorrows,
can do so using the E-mail below:
Note: Don Mario died on January 2, 2001: (Click to view)::
His address was:
Don Mario Riccio
casella postale 33,
85,044 LAURIA (PZ),
Don Mario's website is still maintained in 2008 and the URL is: http://www.roomofjesus.net :