Testimonials from the community
Each of us, I believe, while reflecting and pondering on the condition of their spiritual state, cannot help but recognize how his own soul, and therefore his behaviour was beneficially affected by meeting our Bishop. We are, indeed, a rather small group, more or less always the same, anchored at this thaumaturgic place by Claudio Gatti powerful and truthful presence; we were followed, raised step by step by his paternity, sometimes gentle and indulgent, sometimes inflexible depending on circumstances, but always illuminating for our minds and our hearts. We have learned to understand his great joy in offering us his great theological wisdom, but also his silence, his reproaches, and his annoyed expression when something was wrong in the community.
We loved his interpretations of the Holy Scriptures, homilies and Bible study sessions, with the feeling, actually, the certainty of not having learned anything so precise, deep and pondered from other priests; we have had from him some real poems, as Our Lady used to defined them, capable of giving soul, life and spontaneity, bypassing centuries, to the sparse words of the Gospel or Bible, which are usually offered with such coldness that they would not touch the soul or awaken it to their innermost and hidden meaning. We felt Heavenly shivers, borne aloft by his extraordinary feeling and his theological preparation. We really have experienced some intense moments of Paradise, suspended somewhere between reality and supernatural, so much that once out of this place blessed by God, we would hardly identify ourselves with the confused, frantic and senseless humanity that was approaching us outside the gate and to whom, if only we would have talked about our privilege to have touched with our hands the truth hidden in the folds of sentences that were possibly heard a thousand times in a Church without proper instruction, we would have been met with the utmost incredulity.
Our Bishop has given us everything: love, patience, humbleness, never-ending hope and unwavering faith, but above all his strictness and deep honesty of his feelings, replies, and behaviour. He was strict with himself first, he never came to a compromise, as he would tend to the Lord and listen to His will and translate it into his everyday life; he never failed this scruple, sometimes extreme, but it was his righteousness to will it. I have met in my life few people capable of matching reality and truth with such severity, beginning with himself; but to expect or hope just as much from the others was, I believe, his annoyance, his heavier and more difficult worry to try to drag in the truth so many recalcitrant souls.
He always employed all his energy in the many mishaps with the other priests that plagued him since 1994 when the apparitions of the Mother of the Eucharist were opened to all, thus starting a bumpy and harassed path, hampered by the blindness of many people, by the dislike of just as many people, by the incomprehension of the Church hierarchy, by the disappointment and bitterness from Christians by words, not even lukewarm and sincere, who came to this place and went away spreading slanders and malignant suggestions against the Eucharistic miracles which they had been witness of.
I met the righteous and unfaltering personality of the Bishop in June 1995 and I got a confirmation the following September, when the first Eucharistic miracle took place: careful not to yield to the emotions of the moment, he always "wanted", not just wished, even in the subsequent Eucharistic events, that everything would happen in the deepest silence to meet our Lord with contemplation. It was there that we learned to meet our Lord with contemplation and in the deepest silence. It was there that we learned from him to consider the Eucharistic host, which appeared in different ways, with the devotion due to the delivery of exceptional gifts, of extraordinary graces for which we thank our Lord, without indulging in outwardly exclamations totally unnecessary and out of place.
When on June 20 he was ordained Bishop by God, the brunt was definitely negative for the others and many were the defections that made him suffer, I myself went through a lot of suffering to the point to feel sick for more than two months during the summer vacation, but I was so well accustomed to his catechesis and I did not want to give it up, at the same time I felt to be outside the Church. I remember that on my return to Rome, unable to live in the evil dithering of doubt and ambiguity: is it true or not true? I went to him in confession as first thing. He was already dressed as Bishop and received me with great humility and said a few frank words I will always remember: "I had to accept the Episcopal ordination from God, knowing the risk I will expose myself due to everybody's disbelief: I leave you free to decide. If you want to come you will be welcome, otherwise I am not going to blame you". My decision to remain belongs to that day and to the decision to surrender to God.
The battles with the clerical hierarchy continued, increasingly difficult and harsh. Our Bishop, fearless and a true warrior strong and generous, withstood all the earthquakes and the blows of Satan with the only weapon of truth and obedience to God. He did not have a day of peace and when he handed me, in order to adjust it, the book of his life with Marisa and the special mission these two holy souls have been invested, I could go even deeper into his life so extraordinarily clear and crystalline, with the joy of touching the truth I too was so much devoted.
Here is the earlier Don Claudio, here is the Bishop ordained by God, here is the Bishop of the Eucharist: a figure of high theological human and Christian depth, a shining example for all of us who were won over by his charisma and his way of life to which we owe the magisterial teaching of the things of God and the absolute obedience to His will.
Today we are like orphans thrown about and without anchors just like Jesus' disciples in the aftermath of His death on the Cross, He died out of love, the Bishop died at the Gethsemane out of obedience to Him. They, the Apostles, unable to grasp the significance of so much pain and suffering, and we, unable to understand a double martyrdom that lasted 38 years, increasingly awful and heavy, while we were waiting for something else, for the fulfilment of God's plans.
Just like the Bishop, we bow our head and we offer our obedience to His will, knowing that we have a big advantage on Jesus' disciples: all records of meetings, homilies and Holy Masses of our Bishop will remain as milestones in our lives.
Far from us is mistrust, despair or disappointment, as yesterday Don Ernesto urged us in his homily. We still do not know the will of God about our group, but it is certain that we will continue to pray, to read again the messages of our great Teacher, the Mother of the Eucharist, and to draw from so much live teaching material for our spirit and for our aspiration to be true Christians as our Bishop wanted to educate and prepare us.