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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grimoaldo and Bowen

Dear Friends,
Yesterday, 18 November Bowen passed into eternity. Between Sunday morning and Tuesday evening everything was accomplished as God had willed it. On behalf of his family and friends I sincerely thank you for the prayers that you have offered for him.
Casting about in grief one seeks to find some meaning and make some sense of tragic events. Signs of God’s will help us submit to God’s Providence that governs all things.
Last night we received an email from a young monk of the great Passionist Order living in Spain. His message was a little sign of God’s will for Bowen. The young monk wrote to tell us that Bowen died on the feast of Blessed Grimoaldo. What was amazing, and a sign of God’s Providence, was that Grimoaldo died on the same day as Bowen; that he was exactly the same age, 19 years old; and that he died from exactly the same cause, acute Meningitis.
A coincidence? Yes, of course it is, but more than a coincidence for those who have faith and believe that God’s will governs all things.
The young Passionist monk was also struck by the coincidence of events and faith allows us to see something of the mystery of God’s Will in this tragedy. Blessed Grimoaldo is the only 19 year old saint, who died from acute Meningitis. That both he and Bowen were 19 and died of acute Meningitis on the 18th November gives some tiny glimpse into the mysteries of God’s Holy Will. There are reasons, unknown to us, for everything. We are always in the care of our most loving God and the angels and saints. If no sparrow falls to the ground without our Father in heaven knowing it and willing it, then even more so it was with Bowen. And a saint called Blessed Grimoaldo had answered the same call from God on the same day and at the same age. God is so good!
Blessed Grimoaldo pray for Bowen; as you would say, your "companion in death."
With renewed thanks for your prayers,
Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R.
Blessed Grimoaldo (In short)
Blessed of the Purification (Fernando Santamaria) was born May 4, 1883 in Pontecorvo, Frosinone, the oldest of five children. He professed his Passionist vows at the age of 17 on March 6, 1900 and began his studies for the priesthood at the Ceccano retreat. Two years later he contracted acute meningitis and died on November 18, 1902. His rapid ascent to the heights of perfection are attributed to his exceptional devotion to Mary Immaculate, to whom he had been consecrated as a child. Pope John Paul II declared him Blessed on January 29, 1995.
Blessed Grimoaldo (A longer account from Wikipedia)
Born to Peter Paul and Cecilia Santamaria on May 4 1883 and baptised Ferdinando the following day, his parents ran a small rope-making business. They were a devoutly Christian couple and in an extra-ordinary occasion Grimoaldo received the sacrament of Confirmation at the unusually young age of five months. An altar server from a young age, Ferdinando was also a member of the church choir and the Sodality of the Immaculate Conception. A neighbour testified that on one occasion he saw Ferdinando lifted from the floor whilst in prayer. In 1850 members of the Passionist Congregation took possession of a monastery in the locality and Ferdinando soon became familiar with them, copying their lives of penance. His father encouraged him to continue working in the family business, but Ferdinando had become convinced that he wanted to join the Passionists. He was not yet 16 and his age prevented him from entering the monastery, whilst waiting until he was the required age Ferdinando took up lessons in Latin. He entered the novitiate of the Passionists on March 5 1899 at the monastery of St. Mary of Pugliano taking the religious name Grimoaldo of the Purification.
The Rule of the Passionists was severe and designed to test the novices with penances such as sleeping on straw, poverty in clothing and the wearing of a rough black tunic. Grimoaldo was especially keen to model his life on Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, a Passionist student. He made his vows as a Passionist religious on March 6 1900. Grimoaldo began his studies for the priesthood at Ceccano where he found difficulty in adopting a scholastic discipline; a difficulty soon overcome. Amongst the Passionists he was known for his great holiness and charity. In November 1902 he was diagnosed with acute meningitis and after many trials and temptations he died on November 18 1902. On his deathbed he prophesied the date of his own death and that of a Cardinal; Grimoaldo said:
"His Divine Majesty is here, he has come for me today, and I, together with him, must go to Rome for Cardinal Aloisi-Masella. I must be his companion in death." The Cardinal died four days later.

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