Tag Archives: Sofia Cavalletti

Lord, increase our faith –educate us to see

mustard seedThe Church hears in the gospel for the 27th Sunday Through the Year Lord’s reference to the parable of the Mustard Seed (Luke 17:5-10). The teaching of the Mustard Seed also appears in Mark 4:30-32 and Matthew 17:20.

When the apostles say to Jesus, “Increase our faith,” He responds, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Today, we could easily hear in the desire of the apostles: educate us to see, to know, to experience this Kingdom you are talking about. Perhaps we can relate the concern the apostles present to what Saint Anselm famously said, ours is a “Fides quaerens intellectum” (a faith seeking understanding; or, faith is a trust in God, a love for God, the lens by which we we seek to know what a deep trust in God means in a concrete way connecting the dots of life).

The holy bishop of Hippo tells us,

A mustard seed looks small. Nothing is less noteworthy to the sight, but nothing is stronger to the taste. What does that signify but the very great fervor and inner strength of faith in the Church?

Sofia Cavalletti taught us, “The person who at a certain point becomes aware of the dynamic nature of the Kingdom of God, which is like a mustard seed, will gradually come to see this dynamism filling the universe and empowering man and his history” (Religious Potential of the Child, 165). Hence, the teaching is a recognition that faith as a gift of God is enclosed within our hearts, “like the pearl of great value and the mustard seed.”

This education in the faith may be connected with a reflection Father Luigi Giussani has,

“As a result of the education I received at home, my seminary training, and my reflections later in life, I came to believe deeply that only a faith arising from life experience and confirmed by it (and, therefore, relevant to life’s needs) could be sufficiently strong to survive in a world where everything pointed in the opposite direction, so much so that even theology for a long time had given in to a faith separated from life. Showing the relevance of faith to life’s needs, and therefore – and this ‘therefore’ is important –showing that faith is rational, implies a specific concept of rationality. When we say that faith exalts rationality, we mean that faith corresponds to some fundamental, original need that all men and women feel in their hearts.” (Luigi Giussani, The Risk of Education, pp. 11-12).

Indeed, Lord, increase in us the desire to be with you.

The Kingdom of God is like the mustard tree

Mustard Tree Bezuidenhout.jpgThe Lord loves parables. Today’s parable is the one about the mustard seed growing into a big tree for all the birds to make a home. A fitting typology for heaven. But it is only a metaphor but a reality: the small becomes great. As Sofia Cavalletti said, “The person who at a certain point becomes aware of the dynamic nature of the Kingdom of God, which is like a mustard seed, will gradually come to see this dynamism filling the universe and empowering man and his history” (Religious Potential of the Child, 165). Jesus, in today’s gospel, fixes our attention on the place we have in His Father’s Kingdom here on earth and with Him in heave: our growth, transformation and conversaion is slow and purpose-filled. It is a recognition of the Mystery.

The child hearing this parable will recognize that they exemplify the growing of the Kingdom in their bodies. As adults, do we believe that the small can become great? Do we believe that all have a place in God’s Kingdom?

Sofia Cavalletti, 94, dies

My friend Michel wrote to tell me that Sofia Cavalleti last evening. You may remember that a few days ago I asked  you to include Sofia in your prayers. This past Sunday, Sofia celebrated her 94th birthday. I once again recommend to you the soul of Sofia Cavalletti to the Lord, the Good Shepherd of our souls.

The following is the message sent out by the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd USA board:

Sofia with children arm on Bible.JPG

With tears and with peace, we want to share with you that our beloved Sofia Cavalletti, at 94, a founding mother of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, has entered the celestial pasture of the Good Shepherd. There is great rejoicing in heaven for her with Gianna, Tilde, Fr. Mongillo, Maria Christleib and Tina, along with members of her family who have gone before her.


Francesca Cocchini sent the following announcement from Rome, Italy: “Dearest, this is only to say that during this night – at ten after midnight (Tuesday, August 23) Sofia encountered the Good Shepherd face to face.” The funeral Mass will be on Wednesday, August 24.

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Sofia Cavalletti needs our prayerfilled support

Sofia Cavalletti & Scott Hahn.jpg

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.

~John 10:27, 28


Life is a passage from the less to the more.

~Sofia Cavalletti, The Religious Potential of the Child, page 43


We have heard from [friends with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd] in Rome that she had spent yesterday with Sofia who is now too weak even to speak. We would like to ask that everyone who has loved Sofia would pray for her now that she may continue to experience, in her body and her spirit, the peace and joy she has so often found in the atrium with the children. We praise God for the treasure she is for us and has illuminated for us in the child. We stand together in vigil and prayer, silently and at peace. Together may we pray the prayer Sofia herself has prayed with us this last year:


Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;

Your word has been fulfilled.

My eyes have seen the salvation

You have prepared in the sight of every people,

A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.

Lent asks us to live in simplicity

We can’t live in abstractions.  Reality as it is, God in Himself, is revealed in the concrete. The temptation is to let ourselves be consumed by what is non-essential, with things that burdensome or just plainly a pain. God is not known in the abstract; God is only revealed in the concreteness of life: in love, goodness, beautiful things, friendship, prayer, the sacred Liturgy, the proclamation of the Word, the sacred Tradition of the Church, and the like. Lent for some people is an abstract time of the Church’s calendar because they don’t necessarily know the aim, the goal, the necessity and the personal. What we all should bear in mind is that Lent is a simple time for getting back to basics so that these basics become virtue and virtue becomes a permanent way of looking at things in front of us. A little girl who does religious education following the method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) focusses our attention in how she experiences this period of conversion. “What is Lent? Lent is a time of reflection, of preparing ourselves for the resurrection of Our Lord… by doing something that takes a great effort… a time of sharing and giving ourselves, body and soul to God and the Holy Spirit”  (Jessica, 9 years old, Chihuahua Mexico, Journals of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, 1984 – 1997, p.149).

Jessica’s rather simple declaration hopefully gives you pause during the day to give heart and the mind the space to do something other than work. Lent, like Advent, is a fitting to time of the liturgical year to reflect on the meaning of the Cross and the our Lord’s resurrection (this is what we call the Paschal Mystery). In what concrete ways does God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit capture our imagination –our heart? The founder of the CGS movement Sofia Cavalletti writes: “Simplicity also imposes a kind of asceticism, but it is an asceticism that is joyful, happy, dynamic, and opens out to spaces that are always becoming wider. It is an asceticism that is invigorating, filling the lungs with fresh air that empowers us to keep climbing toward the summit, where the space we will stand on might have become smaller, but the space before us, the panorama we view, will have opened out on the infinite” (“Holy Simplicity,” Journals of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, 2003 – 2008, p. 4).

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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