Cinzia and I remember quite clearly, as if it were yesterday, our meeting in 1987 with the priest who would have changed our lives when we were still only engaged to be married.
It was a Thursday evening and, as usual, we were at a prayer group held by the Augustinian Cloistered Nuns.
The Mother Superior Pia was an Angel! She was just like a mother to us.
The year before we had gone through the tragic road accident in which my father died, Cinzia’s life had been in danger, and we were in terrible financial straits.
That convent with the prayer group on Thursdays at nine in the evening was our safe haven. It brought us some solace during that terrible time of anguish.
That evening seemed no different to the usual Thursday prayer group. But we did notice that a priest who we did not know was celebrating mass.
I was about to give my confession to my friend Brother Olivetano when he said: “What are you doing here?”
“I want to confess!” I replied.
Jokingly he said: “Hurry up then, Don Carlo will be celebrating mass and he is a priest who is enamored of Jesus!”
I came out of the confessional during the homily and he was talking about Purity when suddenly in front of the White meter-high statue of Our Lady of Fatima next to the altar some gorgeous tall Calla Lilies in glass vases began to break, one after another.
There were about forty of us in that tiny church attached to the Cloistered Convent.
We looked at each other dumbfounded as the Holy Mass continued.
At the end of the service, just like a doubting Thomas, I went to check for myself. There was no possible logical explanation for what we had just seen.
I saw that the Calla Lilies had all snapped at the same height. It was quite incredible.
Cinzia and I made our way out of the little Church and waited in a corner for Don Carlo to come out of the sacristy.
What was about to take place was even more inexplicable than the flowers that broke during the Holy Mass.
Two small groups of people had formed on either side, hoping to see him and talk to him. But he went by with his head bowed and an extremely humble expression on his face without stopping to speak to anyone. He slowly walked towards the exit.
Suddenly, instead of going straight ahead, he changed direction and veered to the right where Cinzia and I were standing in the shadows almost out of sight.
He stopped right in front of us and talked about parts of our life that he could not have known; he told us what to do and before he left, he tapped me on the head and said: “Pray for me, won't you?” And with that, he left.
We were quite taken aback.
We had never seen him before; we had no idea who he was or where he came from. How could he know us so well? How could he know what was happening in our lives?
They told us where he lived and we went to see him again. A wonderful friendship developed and he became our spiritual father.
Still today we recommend friends and people to him for Prayer.
34 years have gone by. Don Carlo is sick and bedridden, but he is incredibly serene and happy. He is the embodiment of the words of Saint Paul: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” Galatians 2:20.
Over these years we have seen the signs of his Holiness in so many ways!
Like when my wife was expecting our fifth child, Luca. The doctors thought that he was affected by Down syndrome and they advised us to consider abortion.
We didn’t want to listen to a single word they said and, as always, we went to Don Carlo for help. In his usual straightforward manner, he gave us an incredible and detailed description of everything that the doctors had seen in the ultrasound. And then he added: “Don't worry Cinzia. They won't find anything in the next ultrasound!”
And so it was. Today Luca is a wonderful 20-year-old.
The Church has had more than its fair share of scandals with priests who lose their faith, and take so many people down with them.
But there are also Holy Priests who are enamored of Jesus.
They never grab the headlines. Meek and mild, they eschew attention and dedicate their lives to those that need them...
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