Last November I posted a story about a priest, Father Luigi Squarcia, 66, a priest of the Diocese of Viterbo, who was living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease relating that Father Luigi was determined not to be defined by the ravages of a disease, nor to give into the nihilism of sickness and forthcoming death. What he did was remarkable: Father Luigi lived as a true Christian. He gathered up his sufferings for the life of the Mystical Body of the Church and gave them to the Lord in the person of Pope Benedict.
I received word today from friends of his letting me know that Father Luigi died on Wednesday and his funeral is today. My correspondent said that his funeral was concelebrated by four bishops. “He was loved by everyone and a real priest, since he offered and prayed until the last the minute.” I hope that can be said of me when I meet the Lord face to face. In his funeral homily Bishop Chiarinelli likened Father Luigi to Job: tested and found faithful. The bishop also noted that Father’s life was courageous, full of hope and complete in the Cross of Christ.
Providential that I receive this note from Italy about Father Luigi’s death because in my Christian Anthropology class these last days we’ve been speaking of suffering, uniting our suffering with that of Christ’s for the salvation of the world. We’re reading John Paul’s Salvifici Doloris and CS Lewis’ The Problem of Pain trying to understanding the mystery of suffering and pain and how it is redemptive and has radical meaning in a world that rejects suffering and meaning.
Offer a prayer for Father Luigi Squarcia who, indeed, did not squander the gift of suffering.
O God, Who did raise Thy servant Luigi Squarcia to the dignity of priest in the apostolic priesthood, grant, we beseech Thee, that he may be joined in fellowship with Thine Apostles forevermore.
I ask you to pray for a friend, also a priest, Father David Borino, who living with the same disease as Father Luigi.
In the above picture, courtesy of the sisters of the Immaculate Heart Monastery in Acquapendente, has Father Luigi walking with Archbishop Boccardo praying the rosary. In 2005, while processing with the Blessed Sacrament to conclude a Marian year, Father felt a change in feeling in his arms.