This book is available only in Italian
The 33 Leaflets, written by Mother Maria Oliva in 1934 (four years before the foundation of the Institute), published for the first time as a small volume in 1984 (eight years after her death), convey the anxiety of M. Maria Oliva Bonaldo, as the would-be foundress of the Daughters of the Church. In these pages, for the first time, she recognizes herself in the “new name” “of the Mystical Body”, and traces the main features of the identity and mission of the religious family.
With a master hand, she delineates with unambiguous clarity the physiognomy of the new congregation as perceived in her listening to the Spirit. Strongly disinclined she was to legal norms even when they enunciated the principles of practical living, she would surrender to the “anointing” of the Spirit and let herself be taught and guided by Him. Hence, far from being normative, “the Leaflets” often become "tasty" contemplation, enlivened substantially by the Word of God.
“Passion Flower” is indeed a description of the life of Olga Gugelmo, rich in natural and supernatural gifts. While describing her life, Maria Oliva presents her as the model for every authentic Daughter of the Church.
She mentions some of the most significant traits: contemplative and active; or active in contemplation in one’s everyday life, within or outside the house, while doing any kind of work. Even the most simple, the most humble, the most insignificant, the most hidden action, must always be accomplished as fulfillment of a duty, as an expression of love, as collaboration with God, Creator and Father and with Christ our Redeemer.
And while she describes Olga's life, Maria Oliva proves a wave of sincere joy in discovering that this was the ideal towards which her daughter was always tending.
In this book, Mother Maria Oliva describes the short life of Olga of the Mother of God. She was the eldest among the first eight Sisters to whom Maria Oliva had intended to entrust the responsibility of the new Order.
She hardly spent five years in the Institute, when struck by a serious meningitis died on 11 April 1943 when the Congregation was taking its initial steps. Docile to the Holy Spirit, Olga accepted the suffering as a “gift” and joyfully offered her life for the triumph of the Holy Mother Church. Olga is ever present in our midst with the example of a life totally given to God. Many people consider her a heavenly assistant and rely on her prayer.
The vocation, the life and the exemplary death of Magdalene, makes Mother Maria Oliva to present her to the whole Institute - alongside Olga of the Mother of God - as an inspiring model. When still a novice, Magdalene offered her life for the Christian Unity after listening to the Foundress on the importance of prayer for the Unity of the Church. Thus, she is the one who contributed to strengthening the sense of the ecumenical universality of the Church in the Institute of the Daughters of the Church. Magdalene’s smile and the heroic simplicity of her offering, is a small but vivid light in the journey of every son and daughter of the Church towards ecumenism.
Magdalene’s memory is alive among the Sisters and among the many devotees, especially during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Mother Maria Oliva Bonaldo, Foundress of the Daughters of the Church, wrote this short biography of Emma Moser to introduce to the world, a girl, an aspirant of the same Congregation, who offered her life for the intentions of the Second Vatican Council, in response to the appeal made by the then Pope John XXIII to all the children of the world.
“Let us breathe Mary” is a work of Mother Maria Oliva’s adult life. We can say that it is the synthesis of how much she could understand and live of the mystery of God and of the Virgin Mary, deeply inserted in it. Here, we are not dealing with a systematic theological treatise; it is an admired "contemplation" of what the Lord has accomplished in Mary. It is an invitation for us to commit ourselves, following the path of full adherence to the Lord, which is the way of holiness.
Igino Giordani was a novelist, publicist, and an apologist; Maria Oliva, a Canossian religious, in the initial phase of founding and guiding the Work that the Lord had inspired her: the Institute of the Daughters of the Church, and in whose spirituality she wanted also the priests and the laity to participate.
The letters of M. Oliva to Giordani cover a period of 35 years from 1938 to 1973, with peaks of dense correspondence between 1940 and 1943. Later, the correspondence became less as Maria Oliva was transferred from Venice to Rome, where she could directly meet him.
The Letters manifest without reticence the strength of Maria Oliva’s spiritual motherhood in its most beautiful expression, which accompanies and sustains the spiritual son in the path of holiness; they are filled with profound humanity and are a glowing testimony of the love of God that overflows as love of man called to realize fully the Christian vocation in every state of life.
The book “Communion” is the faithfully transcribed version of a series of lessons given by Mother Maria Oliva to the Daughters of the Church on every first Friday of the month, from October 1972 to June 1973, excluding November and December. These instructions were meant to lead her Sisters to the original spirit of the Congregation in keeping with the exhortation of the Second Vatican Council: "The adaptation and renewal of the religious life includes both the constant return to the sources of all Christian life and to the original spirit of the institutes" (Perfectae Caritatis, n.2).
The voice of Mother Oliva resounds in these writings. She speaks from the heart, presenting the charism in a maternally affectionate and compelling way for the constant attention and responsible meditation of all the Sisters. She wanted her Daughters to be “of one heart and one soul” responding faithfully to their specific vocation in the Church.
In the five short chapters of this work, Mother Maria Oliva outlined the spirituality of the Daughters of the Church from a particularly significant and modern angle: that of participation.
To be part of a reality means taking part not as mere spectators, but to be involved from within. It is our vocation to be in the Church, daughters who share the life of God’s family, partake in her riches and take care of her concerns. It means to be sisters of Jesus and of all his brothers, of all the men and women of all generations and nations.
This universal openness lets us breathe free and full in the world of God, and impels us to bear witness, with humility and inner freedom, to the gift received and cherished.
From the unum sint of the priestly prayer of Jesus, our Congregation has drawn inspiration and life. “To be of one heart and one soul” was the constant supplication, aspiration and commitment of Mother Maria Oliva. The book "Ut unum sint" contains two series of spiritual conferences she gave for the communities during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 1964 and in 1976.
In 1964, Maria Oliva commented on the words of Paul VI to the Bishops on his return from the Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She also develops her own thoughts on what she wrote for the Calendar of the Daughters of the Church, which she calls “our booklet”, during the period of Christmas.
In the conferences of 1976, she commented on the Oremus of the Liturgy of 18 January: «Infuse in us, O God, the spirit of your Love, so that nourished by the only Bread of life, we may become one heart and one soul».
It is a collection of 11 Spiritual Conferences (1969) that Maria Oliva Bonaldo gave for her daughters on the theme of Prayer. Taking up the teachings of the Church, she indicates:
«I tell you: pray as the Holy Mother Church teaches you; she teaches you to pray as Jesus taught and as the Holy Spirit taught recently, with the Constitution on the Liturgy, centralizing everything in that mystery which is the Holy Mass ».
It is wisdom and experience of life that the Foundress transmits to her daughters, to make it their own, trying to live accordingly and proposing it to the faithful.
During "the Holy Hour" (Eucharistic Adoration on the eve of the 1st Friday of the month) Maria Oliva comments on the Priestly Prayer of Jesus (1964).
You all know that the Lord asks three great graces with this prayer. For his own, that is, for his beloved ones: his priests, his apostles, his missionaries and for his beloved missionary daughters; the three great graces are then extended to all, to all those who believe in the word of the priest, "those who believe in me through their word", to all those who believe in the mission of the Catholic priesthood, to everyone; for all of them, the Lord asks these three great, supreme graces: consecration in the truth.
The commitment to the spiritual growth of her daughters has been a significant and constant trait in the life of our Foundress; it was a discreet accompaniment, especially in the intense time of annual retreats, during which through prayer and reflection their bond with the Lord could be better consolidated. The Mother normally followed the preacher's instructions and commented on them, focusing on what was specific to the charism.
In the summer of 1972, her poor health did not permit Maria Oliva to follow this customary itinerary. Far from being discouraged, remaining in her room at the generalate (Sancta Maria), she decided to reach her nine daughters who were preparing for the perpetual profession and the other retreatants in Domus Aurea, Paesetto della Madonna, with a brief commentary on the Magnificat.
On December 4, 1963, at the conclusion of the third session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (1962-1965), Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) promulgated the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The Council was an event of grace for the whole Church, which has set in motion new energies that have been dormant now awakened by the power of the Holy Spirit for the growth of an increasingly mature and participated ecclesial conscience.
Our Foundress followed the conciliar sessions with great attention, with sentiments of profound gratitude, because she recognized in the pronouncements of the Fathers the full realization of her charismatic Inspiration. In the promulgated Documents, she found the key expressions of her thought: Sentire cum, per e in Ecclesia; thus she made a synthesis, fully acknowledging every content.
Maria Oliva Bonaldo, presented to the Daughters of the Church on December 27, 1965, a commentary to the “Lumen Gentium". Having offered the brief reflections on the "De Sacra Liturgia" she could not deprive them of her comments on the dogmatic Constitution "De Ecclesia" because she felt it her duty to nourish them with the maternal grace that the Lord has given her for their sake.
She writes in her introduction: "The Bread (well prepared and pleasantly smelling), is given by your great Mother", the Church. Your "little Mother" treats it or chews it for those incapable of chewing as all mothers do with their children".
She wants that after having nourished themselves with this "bread", her daughters "speak to all of the breadth of our Mystery with fervour".
Maria Oliva shares with her daughters her reflection on the faith of Mary, presenting her as an example for everyone who walks the path as Christian. This exhortation she makes commenting on the homily delivered by His Excellency Mgr. Canisio Van Lierde, Vicar of His Holiness for the Vatican City, on the occasion of the presentation of the Crucifix to a group of Missionaries on January 25, 1964. This is transcribed from the magnetic tape for the occasion of the Year of Faith 2013.
In this accurate work, published in 1955, Maria Oliva accompanies the reader to discover the treasure of divine love enclosed especially in the second book of the "Revelations" [Insinuationes divinae pietatis] by St. Geltrude of Helfta, a Cistercian nun called “the Great” (1256-1302), highlighting in particular the humility that attracted the Lord's complaisance towards her.
We are always surprised by the liveliness and freshness of the words of our Mother Foundress Maria Oliva. The booklet collects the instructions she gave to the Sisters reflecting on the liturgy of Sundays during Lent in 1976 and of Palm Sunday 1969, in which she presents the humility and obedience of Jesus.
These were transcribed from magnetic tapes in 1996 and retain their conversational and exhortative style.
Coming from the mind and heart of our Foundress, this booklet is her last work in the process of the drafting of the Constitutions renewed according to the indications of the Second Vatican Council.
Published subsequently in 1977, it was extensively used for the preparation of the present Constitutions.
When, on December 11, 1925 Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King with the encyclical letter Quas Primas, Maria Oliva Bonaldo, then a young Canossian, composed a melodrama, a poetic “portrayal”, interpreted and alternated with song and music. Divided into four parts, it offers, inspired by Scripture and enriched by the Liturgy and the Magisterium, a sapiential meditation on the kingship of Jesus.
Blessed is this Pope! It is the brief profile that M. Maria Oliva outlined a few months after the death of John XXIII. Drawing from his spiritual writings, she highlights and demonstrates the virtues that characterized him: humility, goodness, charity, piety, patience, angelic chastity, evangelical poverty, obedience. She also recalls the meetings she had with him when he was the Patriarch of Venice and during his Pontificate.
During the annual retreat of her daughters, Maria Oliva usually added brief instructions to the preacher’s meditations to help them reflect on the specificity of their vocation and mission. This booklet collects her last "lessons" held in Rome from 25 June to 4 July 1976, just 6 days before her death. She comments on the formula of the vows for the young sisters and highlights their responsibility as "confoundresses".
"I was born of love and pain like all living beings, in the coal warehouse of a Roman village, while the Holy Mass was being celebrated".
With these words, Mother Maria Oliva begins the fascinating story in which she makes the “Mobile Church” speak in first person, a very original creation of her own mind, born of her ardent desire to make the poor and the marginalized feel the closeness of the Mother Church.
My story: It consists of four episodes, linked between them, yet four independent pamphlets, with short texts including poetry and enriched with eloquent photos.
The first one presents all the phases of the birth of “Assunta” (name given to the first mobile church), with the involvement of workers and technicians in the automobile workshop of Bianchi of Varese and its first apostolic steps. Mobile Church n. 1
The second episode: My story: my children. It takes us to the Roman suburbs without a church to celebrate with the people of God the main festivities of the liturgical year with ever more intense participation. Mobile Church n. 2.
In the third episode: My story: I have a sister “Assunta” is happy to present her twin sister “Immaculate”, born to reach the outskirts of Bologna. Mobile Church n. 3.
The last episode: My story: I speak “Teresina” the smallest and last born church narrates her story. Destined for the young aspirants of the Daughters of the Church, it is interested in their journey of growth and makes them participants in their stories. Mobile Church n. 4.
This book is available only in Italian
Don Ciro Scotti, Servant of God (1883-1943)), was a priest from Ischia, known for his spiritual life. He met the young Maria Oliva Bonaldo, in Castelfranco Veneto, where he was rendering his service as a military chaplain during the war of 1915-1918. A fruitful spiritual friendship began between the two, with a precious correspondence, which became an irreplaceable guide to the understanding of Maria Oliva and of the Charism.
The letters of Maria Oliva Bonaldo to Don Ciro are an extraordinary document of the irrepressible and firm impulse that guided our Foundress in the implementation of the Work inspired by the Lord, and represent a fundamental autobiographical witness.
Don Ciro was a true "soul brother" to Maria Oliva in her spiritual journey. Sick and and unable to act, she confided to him the inspiration of the Work of the Daughters of the Church in the hope that he could carry it out. Despite the very strong spiritual harmony, Don Ciro cannot implement the project, but he constantly supported her until the foundation (1938) and in 1941, having become the Vicar General, he did his best to ensure that the Daughters of the Church could develop their Work with a presence in Ischia.
In preparation for the Solemnity of Pentecost of 1970, Maria Oliva wanted to present to the Community of Sisters of the General House in Rome a sapiential reading of the sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus. Her comment offers valuable indications for spiritual life: a path of docility to the Holy Spirit who, purifying the soul, predisposes it to contemplation.
Heart of Jesus is the title that the Foundress wanted to choose for her Commentary on the Litanies of the Sacred Heart, in response to the apostolic letter of Paul VI Investigabiles divitias Christi (on the infinite treasures of charity of the Heart of Christ) of 6 February 1965, written on the occasion of the second centenary of the institution of the liturgical feast.
The Pope underlines that "The Heart of Jesus, ardent furnace of charity, is a symbol and expressive image of that eternal love, in which God loved the world so much as to give his only-begotten Son" (Io. 3,16); and suggests helping the people of God to enter into this great mystery.
Maria Oliva has prepared a vibrant commentary on the 33 Litanies of the Sacred Heart, aware that this pious exercise, recommended by the Church, can enrich prayer and solicit contemplation of the tenderness and mercy of the Lord Jesus. She addresses Him directly with filial confidence and keen desire to interpenetrate her feelings.
The drawings that accompany the text, made by our sister Antonietta Barbiero of St. John of the Cross, are a further attempt to make people taste the richness of the mystery contemplated.
One year after the death of the Mother Foundress Maria Oliva Bonaldo of the Mystical Body (July 10, 1976) this booklet was born which collects passages taken from her writings, many still unpublished.
The wisdom of the heart is a precious collection of pieces of writing that allows you to approach this privileged creature by reaping the tasty fruits of her intimacy with God and her love for the Mother Church.
As the editor of the work, Salvatore Garofalo, writes, “the vast culture, assiduous and profound meditation in the presence of God, the poetic inspiration, the will to communicate the joys of faith, the warmth of charity, an exquisitely maternal tenderness”, make the pages of this book an example of “wisdom of the heart”.
In a short Profile, Mother Maria Oliva Bonaldo of the Mystical Body, collects the personal testimonies of Emma Moser (1950-1962) a privileged child who, eager to become a nun, in 1961 embarked on the journey in our Apostolic School of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus and just a year later, struck by a very serious form of leukemia, she offered her life for the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.
A simple story, which highlights the joy of self-giving to Jesus unreservedly, under the gaze of Mary His Mother.
Emma shows us that the desire to belong entirely to the Lord is a gift that can be accepted even at a very young age and matures it in the simple daily journey in full conformity to the image of Christ in holiness.
In the Sacred Scripture, the heart is at the basis of man's religious-moral relationship with God, insofar as, it is at the center of man's spiritual life and is the principle of life, memory, thought, will, interiority: the seat of encounter with God.
The origin of the veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary finds its support in the words of the evangelist Luke, who presents it as a casket that preserves all the events concerning Jesus, his Son.
The first trace of public worship we know, can be found in Naples in 1640, in the Brotherhood of the Heart of Mary, founded by St. John Eudes, who also spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The feast, established locally in 1805, was extended to the entire Catholic Church in 1944, to commemorate the consecration of humanity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary requested by the Virgin in 1917 to the little shepherds of Fatima and carried out by Pope Pius XII in 1942, during the second World War.
Initially it was fixed at the octave of the Assumption of Mary, on 22 August; with the liturgical reform following the Second Vatican Council it was moved to the Saturday after the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in 1996 it was made memorial.
It has not been possible to trace the source which M. Maria Oliva used to draft the comments on the titles of these Litanies. However, her Comment is a precious document that allow us to approach the rich Marian spirituality of the Foundress, who in 1964 felt inspired to give a reflection for us her Daughters, underlining the full participation of the Heart of Mary in the mysteries of the Son and highlighting her maternal tenderness towards the Church and each of us.
The veneration of the precious Blood of Christ was flourished in the Church in relation to the mystery of the Eucharist.
Specific devotion to the Precious Blood was a special phenomenon of Flemish piety in the 15th and 16th centuries. It took its modern form with St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), and a few centuries later with St. Caspar of Bufalo (1786-1837).
Blessed Pius IX, to celebrate the universality and redemptive efficacy of the Blood of Christ, instituted its liturgical feast in 1849, setting it on 1 July.
In 1970, with the reform of the liturgical calendar following the Second Vatican Council, this feast was combined with the celebration of Corpus Domini.
Regarding the Litany of the Precious Blood, we have no precise information on the time in which it was composed; instead we have the date of the approval, January 24, 1960, by St. John XXIII; the same Pontiff who on 12 October of the same year had the invocation "Blessed be his Precious Blood" added to the invocations of "God be blessed".
In the context of great devotion to the Blood of Christ, M. Maria Oliva in 1964 undertook to make a brief comment on each Litany, offering us her Daughters, with the heart of a bride in love, a contemplative reflection on the mystery of our redemption, carried out by the Lord Jesus with the shedding of his Blood for our salvation.
This is how Our Lady revealed her identity when, on May 13, 1917, she appeared to Lucia and her cousins in the “Cova da Iria”.
The Foundress, being attentive to the invitation of Mary and the places fragranced by her presence, after having created a small community dedicated to adoration at the Shrine in Lourdes, the City of Prayer, dreams of being able to establish one also in Fatima.
In the long Introduction M. Maria Oliva summarizes the Lourdes-Fatima journey made in the late spring of 1959 for a survey on the possibility of building a "house of solitude" reserved for a group of sisters dedicated to contemplative prayer in the City of Penance.
The project will start after a decade, in 1970.
Fascinated by the story of the three little shepherds, M. Maria Oliva briefly presents their story before, during and after the apparitions; in particular, she highlights the special mission of each of them according to their own nature: Jacinta is attracted to the “hidden Jesus” and particularly touched by the suffering of the Pope; Francis becomes a penitent contemplative, always eager to console Jesus; Lucia becomes the spokesperson of the Virgin and of the insistent request to consecrate the world to her Immaculate Heart.
The last chapter of the booklet is dedicated to the miracle of the doves, which accompanied the statue of Our Lady of Fatima on her travels around the world: a tribute of candour to the Queen of Peace.