by Commissio liturgica Internationalis OSM
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
In both its style and its structure this text is “celebrational”. It renders praise and thanksgiving to God the Father for his loving plan in which he chose seven lay Florentine merchants, mutual friends united in a common devotion to St. Mary, to begin the “Order of the Blessed Virgin” The text is a meditation on the spiritual journey of the Seven as they searched for God in a community of friendship and fraternity under the protection and guidance of the glorious Mother of Christ. Finally, the text seeks the intercession of the Seven Saints in a joyful and confident dialogue with these men, our fathers and brothers, our intercessors and friends. But a true celebration is not limited to the time spent in prayer and commemoration. Since it touches the whole of a person’s being: intelligence, feelings, will, that is a celebration that creates a certain tension within the “soul of the celebrant’; the ‘event celebrated’ must in some way become part of the individual’s life. In this case, the ‘event; is the charism, the ideal, an the extraordinary call and response of the Seven in their life as Servants. Their three celebrations recall three particular aspects of the spiritual life of the Seven: their constant orientation toward God and the radical following of Christ. Which prompts us to ask them to teach us “how we can live…seeking only the Kingdom of God and its justice”. Their witness of fraternal charity which we hope to learn so “we can build a life together, united in heart and mind, in the home of our Father”, Their service to the Virgin which characterizes our vocation and leads us to imitate the actions and attitudes of the Lord’s humble Handmaid “making our lives a service of love to the Son of God and our brothers and sisters.
The celebrations focus on God’s intervention in the life of the Seven Holy Fathers and their response to that call. The effects of their divine intervention are always present and touch us directly as Christians and as Servants of Mary. The Church honors them as “saints”, intercessors and models of evangelical life for the entire People of God. Within the Church, their charism of spiritual fatherhood continues in the creation of new “sons and Daughters” in the Order which they founded.