HAVE OFTEN MENTIONED the name of Divo Barsotti. Divo Barsotti—who died at the age of 92 on February 15, 2006, at his hermitage of Saint Sergius in Settignano, north of Florence—was a priest, a theologian, the founder of the Community of the Children of God, and an extraordinary mystic and spiritual master.
When I discovered his works, in 2005, he was already very old and sick. So I came to know him indirectly through contact with Fr. Serafino Tognetti, the successor of Divo Barsotti as superior of the “Comunita’ dei Figli di Dio,” the congregation Fr. Barsotti had created. From that first contact, I started to study the books of Father Barsotti, reading book after book (he was a hugely prolific writer) and discovering the deepness of this man, a man that was also struggling with the Church at his time, as it has happened for many holy men. As I have mentioned, he was a Christian of extraordinary deepness, presenting a sort of new understanding of our relationship with God.
His works were not progressive, but always respectful and devoted to religious superiors and Catholic hierarchy. But still, having a very strong personality and the gift of parrhesia (the art of speaking clearly and without hypocrisy), sometimes he may have attracted some problems, that he always accepted as a message that God was sending him.
I HAVE RECENTLY FINISHED READING the biography written by Fr. Tognetti, published in Italy by Edizioni San Paolo with the name “Divo Barsotti. Il sacerdote, il mistico, il padre.” It is also available in English from Saint Paul Publications, with the title: “Divo Barsotti. Priest, Mystic, Father.” I am very happy that a work like this is now available for the English speaking world. Divo Barsotti was a lover of the Mass, of Gregorian chant, of Catholic tradition. I was able to see a video on YouTube of Father Barsotti saying the Mass, in which he interrupts himself many times, because of tears streaming incessantly when he was pronouncing the words of the consecration. He was a man immersed in God and his books about liturgy give us an idea of the deepness of what the Mass is and should be and the consciousness of Catholics.
The thoughts of Fr. Barsotti are not devotional or pious, but essential. He is a sort of artist of the word, trying to look for the naked idea more than constructing very pious statements with the help of a well-researched rhetoric. I cannot deny that his ideas have a deep influence on my own personal reflection. This is why I dedicated two books to him drawing on topics that use his teachings.
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