The story of our priest, Bishop ordained by God, H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti
Prayer vigil of 8th March 2003, celebrated on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti's priestly ordination.
What we narrate is the history of our priest and Bishop, that we don't consider, due to its beauty and height, property of a particular community, but of the Universal Church, because it reflects the true figure of the priest, as God wanted it to be. In the letter to the Hebrews St. Paul writes: "For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God " (Hebrews 5,1). What we want to transmit is the universal message that God wanted to give us about the priestly life. Only the one who follows the Father's teachings, who remains firm to his heart and offers and suffers like Christ on the Cross is the good shepherd; as a consequence his flock remains united and grows in the holiness. "I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind; and I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed for ever" (I Samuel 2,35).
The Priestly Ordination
It was March 9, 1963, the day of Don Claudio's priestly ordination. In that day I was brought by bilocation by Our Lady into the Basilica of St. John in Laterano, where I saw for the first time the one who, by God's will, would have become my spiritual director and would have realized the great mission. Don Claudio was prone on the ground, while the litanies of the saints where sung. Jesus' words were going to become reality: " Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28,18-20). " As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (John 20,21).
The gift of priesthood is a God's deed of love, who asks man's cooperation to realize the plan of salvation. On Thursday before Easter, by instituting the sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ made the Apostles his ministers and God's instruments for the good of mankind. The Bishop is the authentic witness and carrier of the true light, which is Christ, the Christ crucified and triumphing in the Eucharist, the only certitude of salvation. God gave all himself, to make this light shine more and more in the world.
The Priestly Mission
"I am Jesus, the Sweet Master, the priest is the Sweet Christ on the Earth" (Letter of God, 10.31.1993). The priest is the living and transparent image of Christ the Priest. Jesus Christ manifested in himself the perfect and definitive face of the priesthood of the New Covenant. This is what he did in all his earthly life, but especially in the central event of His passion, death and resurrection. As Paul writes in the letter to the Galatians, Jesus, being a man like us and only Son of God, is the perfect mediator between the Father and mankind, by the gift of the Spirit: "God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!".
Proclamation of the Word: For our Bishop, reading and meditating God's Word is a need that must not be ignored, because it is an instrument of spiritual growth and conversion of the souls. Only a deep knowledge of the Evangelical teachings, a mature formation and a responsible acceptation allow the man to grow loving God and the brothers. This anxiety must animate the priest, this is our Bishop's anxiety, this is Paul's anxiety: "For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (I Corinthians 9,16). The priest is called to be also the man of God's Word, generous and tireless evangelizer. "As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry" (II Timothy 4,5). The Bishop often repeats: "If we the shepherds want to be Christ's imitators, we must be able to imitate Paul as well, without searching for polished citations. What counts is that in my preaching I make Christ grow and precede and make me diminish and disappear. Christ doesn't need my culture to be announced. He just wants me to lend my mouth, my heart and my intelligence and only in this way the preaching is strong and efficacious. Only in this way the shepherd, through the action of the Holy Spirit, will be able to lead the community to those heights of holiness that would not be reached by human ways".
Offer: The Bishop's life is a continuous offering to the souls; in the 40 years of his priesthood, even if tried in the body and in the morale, he sacrificed himself for the soul's salvation. Through his service, his offering, his total, humble and loving devotion to the Church, he took care, kept and offered to us the reality of the authentic, courageous and indomitable priest as it has been in God's mind since the beginning. " the life of the true priest is hard, difficult, but it is love, charity, simplicity, sincerity" (Letter of God, 8.22.1996). "My dear priests, do give yourselves to the souls who wait for your help. The priest is also a victim" (Letter of God, 5.26.1996).
Eucharist: The pastoral charity finds its full expression and supreme nourishment in the Eucharist, that must be center and root of all the life of the priest.
The most beautiful and greatest title with which the Bishop was called is: "Bishop of the Eucharist", to point out that he always defended, loved and adored the Eucharist, putting it at the center of his being a God's Minister. Many times he entrusted to us that without the strength, support and love of the Eucharist he wouldn't have succeeded in carrying on the great mission entrusted to him by God. The priestly mission is inseparable from the Eucharist, because only the full identity of the priest with Christ is guarantee of communion, unity and sharing of the plan of salvation that God wanted for the man. As Christ suffers, dies and resurrects, also the priests suffer, die and resurrect for the souls by offering themselves with Him for the good of the community entrusted to them: "Remember: the priesthood is a great sacrament. The priest is called by God, Jesus enters into him and the priest is in Jesus" (Letter of God, 5.26.1996).
Only by feeding on the One who suffered, as man and God, all the pains and the labours of this world, the priest can be an efficacious God's instrument, bearing and making fructify into spiritual gifts all the sufferings, labours and tribulations that an authentic and living priestly mission involves: "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory. The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us" (II Timothy 2,8-12); "For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2,18).
The Bishop's immense love, total offering and unconditioned abandonment to Jesus the Eucharist found its highest expression and completion in the greatest miracle that God could perform in the hands of a minister of his, when, on June 11, 2000, blood began to come out of the just consecrated host.
Acceptance of the Mission
The first years of priestly life passed and Don Claudio grew loving and knowing God. His strong and firm character, his attachment to the truth, his being a valiant defensor of the Eucharist were the talents that God had given to this young, but great priest. These talents, by the loving cares of the Mother of the Eucharist and Jesus, would have surely given back, in God's plans, a greater property for all the Church; and God, without our Bishop's knowledge, had many plans about him.
Everything began in August 1972, when Our Lady asked Don Claudio and Marisa to go to Lourdes. In the Shrine grotto Our Lady told them that God had called them for an important mission: "It is a mission that involves all the Church and all the world you are free of accepting or refusing, but remember: you will suffer a lot" (Letter of God, 8.6.1972).
After three days of deep prayer and meditation, on August 12, 1972, during the celebration of the H. Mass in Lourdes grotto, Don Claudio and Marisa said yes simultaneously in the moment of the peace exchange. And God's plans became reality.
The Great Mission
The great mission, whose purpose is the salvation of souls and the renaissance of the Church, involved a tribute of suffering lived with love, abandonment and obedience to God. As for Jesus, the life of our priest and Bishop experienced and still experiences the abandonment by those who would have to help and support him in doing God's will. But who is in the truth finds strength in the Eucharist and in the Word: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5,29). Who loves, in the moment of trial, entrusts himself completely to God:
Hear a just cause, O Lord;
attend to my cry!
Give ear to my prayer
from lips free of deceit!
From thee let my vindication come!
Let thy eyes see the right!
If thou triest my heart, if thou visitest me by night,
if thou testest me, thou wilt find no wickedness in me;
my mouth does not transgress.
With regard to the works of men,
by the word of thy lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to thy paths,
my feet have not slipped.
I call upon thee, for thou wilt answer me, O God;
incline thy ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show thy steadfast love,
O savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at thy right hand.
Keep me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of thy wings,
from the wicked who despoil me,
my deadly enemies who surround me.
They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
They track me down; now they surround me;
they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.
They are like a lion eager to tear,
as a young lion lurking in ambush.
Arise, O Lord! confront them, overthrow them!
Deliver my life from the wicked by thy sword,
from men by thy hand, o Lord, from men
whose portion in life is of the world.
May their belly be filled with what thou hast stored up for them;
may their children have more than enough;
may they leave something over to their babes.
As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with beholding thy form.
The Episcopal Ordination
"Dear Don Claudio, you will be the apostle, the prophet, the Bishop, the leader of the new Church " (Letter of God, 7.26.1998), with this message Jesus prepared Don Claudio to what would have been the highest and greatest completion of his priesthood. June 20, 1999 is a date that will be written with golden letters in the history of our Movement and of the Church.
Jesus pronounced these words: "I, Jesus of Nazareth, ordained Bishop the priest Don Claudio Gatti"; all the people present were touched and many burst into tears, since the great new was so unexpected and unforeseen.
Then Jesus continued: "I, Jesus of Nazareth, in the name of God the Father, of God the Holy Spirit and of Me, God the Son, have ordained Bishop the priest Don Claudio Gatti. I ordained the first Pope and the apostles bishops, but everything has been changed. Tomorrow I will repeat the announcement of this episcopal ordination. It's not important that the men give you the fullness of priesthood: I am Jesus, I am God, only I can do all that I want and no man of the Earth can prevent Me from doing something. I given him the episcopate because your priest has suffered for all his life, but he never betrayed God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and Me, God the Son; he never betrayed the Eucharist which poured blood, he never betrayed the Mother of the Eucharist. He was condemned because he didn't throw the Eucharist away. He never betrayed you, my beloved little children, my little flock, who are few praying here".
The episcopate represents for Don Claudio the fullness of powers; powers and responsibilities that outline, with clearer and clearer characters, the role he will have in the Church that he loves so much and so ardently wants it to be again a lighthouse for the men and not a cause of scandal and perdition due to its men. By ordaining Don Claudio Bishop, God recognized in him the tenacious and humble, strong and faithful shepherd who fought against much more prevailing human forces, but since he was united with God at all he gained the victory.
The Bishop is shepherd and guide, to him is entrusted the task of lightening the way that leads to holiness. When in Matthew's Gospel Jesus said: "You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world" he enclosed, in some images, the characteristics of his disciples. The light must not be covered, but must burst out, fed by the grace that comes from the sacraments. This is the touching solicitude and the immense love towards the flock that should animate every shepherd, a shepherd who suffers even if only one sheep is not in the sheepfold and who comforts and confirms in the faith those who are already inside it. Jesus gives the conclusion in a marvellous way in Matthew's Gospel: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven". These are the conditions to become authentic carriers of the announcement and to be worthy of the mission that God, through the Bishop, entrusts to us: witnessing in the world that the light of the man is Christ, the Christ crucified and triumphing in the Eucharist, only certitude of salvation. "In him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1,4).
The desert will flower
The Lord promised the Bishop that the victory would have arrived and this took place. For the moment the Bishop triumphed from the spiritual point of view, but the human victory will arrive as well, with his definitive acknowledgment: "May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may men blossom forth from the cities like the grass of the field" (Psalm 72,16).
This prayer vigil wants to be also a thanksgiving to our Bishop, because if today, even if with our limits, we have grown up loving and knowing Jesus, it is due to this beloved son of His. And each one of us can say with certitude: "For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Apocalypse 7,17).