The following are excerpts from Begin Again, by Father Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V. (used with permission).
Bruno chose to belong totally to God: “I resolve before God and the whole heavenly Court… to give myself to him without half-measures and without reserve, to be of those ‘who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ [Acts 15:26],” biblical words he would later apply to the congregation he would found, the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. Bruno accepted the cost of this decision: “Having resolved to serve God with perfection, I will not be ashamed of this choice but will live it openly before all. I will let others see clearly that I value living as a good Christian who has accepted God for his King, and not the world with its teachings. If I should be scorned and derided for this, I will know beyond all doubt that such scorn honors me and places a crown on my head.”
The youthful cleric opened his heart to God’s mercy in his failures: “I will not allow myself to be discouraged, however I may fall. If God is for me, who can be against me [Rom 8:31]? Though I fall a thousand times, each time… I will rise again as peaceful as if it were the first, knowing my weakness and knowing, Lord, your great mercy.” “And so,” Bruno exclaimed, “if I should fall even a thousand times a day, a thousand times, with peaceful repentance, I will say immediately, Nunc coepi [Now I begin], my God, my God!” The young deacon proclaimed God’s goodness in the words of Wisdom 1:1: “Think of God in a spirit of goodness.” As a spiritual guide, Bruno would repeat these teachings and often these very words to those who sought his aid. In these notes, we glimpse the forging of his spirituality. (Page 35)
Two manuscripts from these years reveal Bruno’s approach to spiritual direction. A woman whom Diessbach had entrusted to Bruno’s spiritual care had written, expressing sentiments of discouragement. Bruno replied: “Holiness does not consist in never failing, but in rising immediately, recognizing our weakness and asking God’s forgiveness, and in doing this with peace of heart without letting ourselves be troubled…. It is very important to understand deeply how good God is, and not to measure him by our own limitations or think that he tires of our wavering, weakness, and negligence; that because of our sins he withdraws his help and denies his grace…. Our God is not such…. Let us think of him as he truly is, filled with goodness, mercy, and compassion, and let us know him as the loving Father he is, who raises us when we have fallen, who never tires of forgiving us, and to whom we give great joy and honor when we seek forgiveness.” “And so,” Bruno wrote, “be of good courage. Let your heart be joyful, give yourself as completely as you can to God, banish any doubts, and tell God that you never wish consciously to do anything that would displease him. For the rest, do not be troubled. God is with you and will help you, and will not let you fall.”
In a second manuscript, Bruno outlined a spiritual program for a married woman. Following the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, Bruno asked this woman to consider that “I am created by God, and for this purpose alone: To praise and serve him, and so enter eternal life; and not only to praise and serve him in any state of life, but in this state in which he desires me, and to which he has called me.” (Page 62-63)
In the dawn of his life, Bruno had turned to Mary. Brief remarks …appear to indicate her presence in the eve of his life as well. Gardetti recounted: “One evening, as dusk was falling, we were saying the rosary together. He was seated on his small chair, and I was next to him, kneeling on the floor. He interrupted me, and asked me who that Lady was who had come to visit them. I replied that I had not seen any Lady, because this was a cloistered area. Then we resumed the rosary to its end.”
Ferrero, too, remembered Bruno’s words to him: “In his last illness, he told me several times that he had a beautiful Lady with a lovely child in her arms who never left him, but would would say no more.” The Marian meaning of these words seems evident… Mary, then, continued to the end her unchanging role in Bruno’s life: she was the tenderness, the warmth, and the love that eased his fear and instilled hope, now as death approached.
Mary was also central to an experience of prayer regarding the Oblates’ future. On an undated page, most likely from his final years, Bruno wrote: “The Lord also gave me to understand that I should make known to the beloved sons of Mary, the Oblates, that this great Queen had obtained for them the spirit of fortitude, and they will be invincible to their enemies; they will triumph in their sufferings, and many of them will have the blessed lot of shedding their blood, and giving their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ; that they should not fear the devices of perverse men, ministers of the Demon, but should stand firm in their vocation: being faithful to God, God will be faithful to them.” (Page 238-239)