The above prayer was written by Henry Casolani
to help his daughter Cecilia to pray
The deep love that the couple Henry and Inez Casolani had for Christ in the Eucharist and the pious way they received Him in their daily Holy Communion was a feature that struck one and all. They were so inflamed with a strong and unwavering faith in Christ, that their spirituality seemed to be wholly enveloped in a Eucharistic life. Both by word as well as by example Henry and Inez instilled in those close to them a deep devotion and love for our Beloved Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Whenever she was in front of the Blessed Sacrament, Inez, all aglow with fervour, used to exhort her daughter not to be distracted by looking elsewhere: ‘Look at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.’ Henry and Inez Casolani lived a life of intimate union with Christ – a life which truly had the most Holy Eucharist as its centre.
St. Paul says: “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
As Henry and Inez faIthfully adored Christ daily in the Blessed Sacrament their life was animated by the furnace of His Divine Love. Often Inez would happily say: “I had my Night Hour Adoration!” Under the guidance of her confessor, Fr. Joseph Mifsud Bonnici, Inez was an impetus in the explosion of perpetual adoration at the Immaculate Conception Parish of Hamrun. The prayer of Adoration of Henry and Inez was quite universal; they prayed fervently in reparation for the sins of the world, for unity in the family, for missionaries all over the world and for the souls in purgatory to whom they had a great devotion.
They were so close to the Eucharist that the practice of virtues was spontaneous for them.
“Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matt. 11:29). Through the Gospels we are told that Jesus practised humility to a degree beyond our comprehension. Henry and Inez constantly recognised their total dependence on God. Inez Casolani publicly proclaimed: ‘How are things possible without His presence in our life?’ This couple cherished Christ above all wealth and treasures. They obeyed His Holy Will unhesitatingly. All their undertakings, their work and their suffering were offered to Jesus. By praying devotedly before Jesus, truly living in the Blessed Sacrament, the union of Henry and Inez with Him grew and matured daily. They allowed His love to direct their entire life both as individuals and as a married couple. Inez was enraptured by God and her trust in Him was total. Unhesitatingly she stated and freely wrote: ‘I am in His Hands and I accept all He sends me joyfully!’
Drawing strength from Christ in Holy Eucharist, Henry and Inez grew in age and wisdom, yet remained constantly little and humble. It is testified that Henry and Inez never showed pride either in deeds or in words. They had no pretensions. Inez wrote: ‘Whenever we perform a good deed let us not pride ourselves about it but let us confide it to His heart, while keeping it away from egoism and vain glory.’ Sure enough they practiced what they preached and lived humility with a particular intensity at all moments. In fact Henry and Inez Casolani touched the heart of many by their many hidden actions and very discreet benevolence.
They consumed their energy for God’s greater glory and towards the service of others. So great was their desire to spend time with Him hidden in the Tabernacle that they could endure all distractions, fatigue and even sleepiness while adoring Him wholeheartedly. Because of this adoration to which they were very faithful Henry and Inez Casolani found their joy in His Divine Love and made great strides along the path of holiness. How sweetly Inez spoke of Our Lord’s love!‘He envelops us in His love; ‘How good He is! What a thoughtful Father we have!’ ‘God is so very lavish.’ Their centre of attraction was love of God, of neighbour and of the Church. Henry and Inez tried to live the Gospel in their daily life. Their spirit of prayer permeated all their actions: ‘Do it for Jesus, do it with love’, ‘Offer it for the glory of God!’
In the Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus offers Himself to His heavenly Father just as truly as He offered Himself on the Cross.
During one of her meditations Inez wrote: ‘Redeeming Blood and Cleansing Water! These were the last two gifts that Jesus gave us at the end of His earthly life. He also wanted His Heart to be pierced to show us that it is always wide open ready to welcome us and that in His Heart we may forever find a place of love and refuge.’
Spurred on by their tremendous love for Christ Henry and Inez Casolani could refuse Him nothing and voluntarily surrendered all their being and all that was precious to them as an offering to Our Lord – an offering that was total, pure and unconditional. Often Henry and Inez had to face trials and difficulties, as well as sufferings and heavy demands on their generosity. Yet with unwavering faith in Christ, the words of Inez in all circumstances were: ‘I shall not stand in the way of the Lord.’
The willingness of Henry and Inez to follow the will of God at all times and on all occasions, notwithstanding the difficulties and trials they encountered, is typical of saintly souls whose life is centered on God and who live solely for God and for others. It is from their daily Mass that they obtained the strength they needed to surrender themselves completely to the Divine Will. Inez wrote: ‘Our Saviour, so full of love, presents to us His Heart that is full of a love that is stronger than the strength of life itself.’
Henry and Inez Casolani participated in the Eucharistic Sacrifice with great earnestness and concentration. The motto of the life of this couple was “Be it done to me according to Your word.” Henry and Inez were superb Christian models for all who knew them. Their holy fear of God, together with a total confidence in Christ enhanced Henry and Inez Casolani’s path to holiness. Inez wrote: ‘Let us remember that some day or other we shall be called to give an account of our own actions in front of the Divine Judge.’
Henry and Inez Casolani lived this Eucharistic spirituality in every detail of their life. They placed all their intentions in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Inez heartily addressed Our Lord: ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trusted in Thee and we are heartily grateful to You.’
Every morning, Inez offered herself to Our Lord and prayed: ‘Heavenly Father, I offer You this day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys and sorrows in union with the Heart of Jesus Your Son who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. Amen’
‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ (John 15:13). The daily sacrament of the Eucharist was truly Henry and Inez Casolani’s spring of spiritual energy to love enduringly even those who were not always easy to love. They acted charitably, kindly and generously towards everyone. During the Passover Meal Jesus told the apostles: ‘Do this in memory of me’. Henry and Inez Casolani followed Christ’s Eucharistic words diligently and scrupulously in every event of their life. They lived a life of loving service as well as one of self-giving love and self-sacrifice. Constant awareness of the presence of God was noticeably and firmly established in their heart as well as in their mind. Inez gave constant witness to her own words: ‘Whatever you do, keep God’s presence in front of you and always leave room for Him in your own loving heart.’
In Holy Communion we receive Christ, divine and human, body and soul, flesh and blood. By the daily reception of Christ in Holy Communion during Mass and by adoring His Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, Henry and Inez encountered the enormous love of Our Lord and responded to this love totally, willingly and unconditionally. In a diary annotation, Inez wrote: ‘My Lord I offer you all I have.’
Jesus calls all to imitate his sacrificial love: “This is My Commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you”. Henry and Inez Casolani could love selflessly even when love demanded suffering for the good of others. Their life was an example of a continual response of faithful love and ardent charity – yet an example within the reach of all. Fr. Charles Fenech O.P. testified that ‘The open secret behind Henry and Inez Casolani’s life was Christ present in the Holy Eucharist.’
They participated actively and with devotion in the daily Eucharistic Celebration and prepared themselves well to receive Jesus by prayer and fasting. Inez prayed:‘Oh Jesus, help me to strip myself of all evil things in this world.’ In this way Henry and Inez did not only nourish themselves spiritually but were able to reflect and share the selfless love of Christ with everybody. Inez affirmed: ‘Faith pervades every moment of our life. God is first and foremost in our life. He is the Omnipotent One. He is our All.’
Love for the Word of God
The Liturgy of the Word is an integral part of the Eucharist Celebration. In the Pastoral Letter for Lent 2010, Archbishop Paul Cremona O.P. and Bishop Mario Grech remind us that ‘the reading of the Word of God proposed by the Liturgy, retreats, prayer accompanied by fasting and charity are all great moments where we can receive the Word that forms us so that we can then renew our environments: the family, places of work, public institutions and ecclesial communities.’
Henry and Inez listened to the Word with reverence. They treasured and applied this Holy Word of God to their daily life. They were devotedly mindful of St. Paul’s exhortation: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” ( Phil.4:9)
Amidst their daily chores Henry and Inez set aside specific moments of the day to dedicate themselves to the reading of Sacred Scripture and both were an inspiration to others to live a joy-filled Christian life. Inez Casolani’s last words testify to her deep and unending joy in Christ, a joy which accompanied her throughout her life: ‘I take record of God… In Thee I have had my earthly joy.”
The Word of God motivated Henry and Inez Casolani’s spiritual fervour. Fr. Paul Cremona O.P., later Archbishop of Malta, recalled Henry’s love for the Word of God and stated: ‘Henry Casolani’s enthusiasm towards reading the Holy Gospel reflects his verve towards living a virtuous life and to do all that is right.’
Promoters of the Eucharist
Henry and Inez Casolani always received Christ in the Holy Eucharist with outstanding dignity and devotion! They both encouraged others to attend Mass not only on Sundays and Holy days of obligation but also as frequently as possible. Inez insisted that ‘a mother should organise a routine for her children – a routine, which would include the daily Mass.’
St. John Chrysostom, doctor of the Church, delivered challenging and demanding reflections on the Holy Eucharist: ‘Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk only then to neglect him outside where he suffers cold and nakedness. He who said: ‘This is my body’ is the same One who said: ‘You saw me hungry and you gave me no food,’ and ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me’.
Henry and Inez’s union with Christ in the Eucharist was truly manifest in their daily life, that is in their actions, in their sense of values, in their relationships with others. They were truthful and sincere, generous, caring and respectful of the dignity of all, ready to make personal sacrifices, loyal and just, gentle and prudent, compassionate and self-disciplined; they aimed at the love and unity of their family; they appreciated the good of young people. Henry’s words ‘good to others do always, evil never!’ was a strong principle in the couple’s home. The Eucharist challenged their daily lives. Their strong union with Christ in the Eucharist was testified by the love of their neighbour, by their gentleness towards others, by their disposition to forgive those who hurt or offended them and by their seeking the right intentions and faithfulness in carrying out to perfection their obligations as spouses and parents. Regularly, when passing in front of a Church, Inez would bow her head and say: ‘Sia Lodato Gesù Cristo, sempre sia lodato.’ Henry would salute and make the sign of the cross.
It was through her saintly parents that young Cecilia first learned to taste the hidden and unutterable sweetness of the Mass. Inez prepared her daughter so well for the First Holy Communion that inadvertently in school young Cecilia was examined with a group of first communicants. To the greatest joy of Inez, Cecilia actually received her First Holy Communion at the tender age of five instead of the usual six. Under the guidance of Inez, Henry wrote the following for their beloved daughter on the eve of her First Holy Communion: ‘Oh Jesus, I promise to receive my Holy Communions worthily in reparation for those who are unwilling to be friends with you.’ After that wonderful event which brought great joy in the heart of their family, Inez used to accompany her daughter daily to Mass and would insist with her to kneel down whenever the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. Henry and Inez Casolani blessed without reserve their one and only daughter’s call to a life consecrated to God.
Sr. Cecilia Mary Casolani SJA states: “With what love and empathy my mother made me understand the Passion of Christ!” Inez Casolani recited the Act of Spiritual Communion several times a day and often asked her daughter to join her in the prayer. She lived continuously in the presence of Our Lord and wrote: “Let us entrust our whole being to Christ, and He, with bowed head and open arms, with a heart throbbing with love, accepts all and consoles us in a way that God alone is capable of doing.”
‘And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ (Luke 22:19)
Living the Eucharistic spirit so intensely, every circumstance in life was for Henry and Inez a greater opportunity for gratitude and an ever deeper union with God.. Inez constantly proclaimed: ‘How grateful we should be to you, my Lord!’ They could even thank God in the midst of their trials and in the hour of death. After Mass Henry and Inez used to remain devoutedly recollected in silent prayer thanking and adoring Jesus in the Tabernacle. Henry and Inez were coherent and always lived in conformity with their spiritual writings and thoughts. ‘In the stillness of your heart, love Him who loves you with all His Might.’
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented.”
Henry and Inez Casolani were lay persons whose life was marked by divine favours and extraordinary graces, but also by great trials and sufferings. Inez was devoted to the Eucharist from her childhood. As she matured the ardor of her devotion increased. The life of Inez was a simple and ordinary one, but her soul was totally absorbed in God. She had a tender devotion to the Passion of Our Lord on which she meditated daily. Her love for the Immaculate Conception was always deep and intense. She prayed the fifteen decades of the Rosary daily, offered mortification frequently and was most faithful to her Night Hour Adoration, not to mention the many prayers she said by heart throughout the night! Inez was well aware that spiritual maturity requires great suffering as well as a holy fear of God. Yet her constant orientation towards Heaven soared beyond all the hardships and trials she encountered. Inez wrote: ‘St. Paul said ‘No eye has seen, nor ear has, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.’ There is indeed such a majestic Heaven. Therefore we should strive, toil, suffer, live and die for it.’
She would often gather girls of the neighborhood at her home to recite the Holy Rosary together. With loving thoughts of God Inez instilled hope in those who confided in her. Witnesses who saw Inez at her daily duties could not help but admire her spirit of recollection and union with God. Inez always offered tender care and loving attention to the sick and needy, and did all with the greatest kindness and charity. She wrote: ‘The Eternal Gardener is able to bring to fruition the work we fulfill for His Glory.’
Henry’s modesty and simplicity made a most pleasing impression on all those who knew him. He was never heard speak of himself. Evangelical simplicity was an outstanding virtue of Henry. From a tender age this characteristic distinguished him from others and accompanied him throughout his life. He could never think or speak ill of anyone. The thought of the sufferings of Christ never left him. The patience and sweetness with which he endured his suffering and pain left an indelible mark on one and all. Towards the end of his life, notwithstanding the atrocious physical pain he had to endure, Henry exclaimed: ‘What a fuss over my little toe! Imagine the suffering Christ went through!”
May our hearts always hold dear, precious and sacred that unwavering love and ardent desire that Henry and Inez had for Jesus present in the Holy Eucharist.
May the Heart of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, loved and glorified at every moment, in every tabernacle of the world, even until the end of time! Amen
Resources: Archivium Casolani