To my beloved sisters and daughters in Jesus Christ.
When I have separated myself from you for a few days because of a journey, or something else, I have nonetheless seen your displeasure, your suffering, which all reverberates in my heart, which is made tender and moved by such a separation, although short. Now that the moment is coming when I must separate myself from you, not for a few days but for all that time that God alone knows, so that we will not see each other again on this earth…what will be my, your, affliction? I who see myself near to leaving you seek with the help of God to prepare myself with resignation, and to such an extent that I think more of your pain than of mine. And it is for this reason that I address to you these wishes of mine, this final advice. These are the wishes of a mother who loves you very much; the advice of a soul that wishes you complete good.
Do not be overly afflicted, my dear daughters, because of my leaving you; think that death is a tribute that we must all render up; that my days have been rather long (which I wish I had known to take advantage of to sanctify my soul, to meet with perfection the grave obligations which I took upon myself, by the will of God…). One has to die, beloved daughters, but to live for ever in heaven. If the Lord shows mercy towards me, we will meet where death cannot penetrate, and where we will always be happy in God, and without fear of ever again distancing ourselves from he who is our only love.
Never forget life which has been give to us solely in order to go to heaven and that one must suffer with virtue in order to make us worthy of it; it is helpful to follow our divine exemplar walking not along a road of roses but one covered with thorns, in the footsteps of our teacher and redeemer Jesus. He suffered and loved for all of his mortal life. He suffered solely because he loved us…How much he suffered can be understood by those who reflect upon his painful passion, his ignominious death; but who could ever understand or penetrate the vastness, the immensity, the depths of the love that is demonstrated to us in the institution of the most holy sacrament! O what human mind is not capable of conceiving of a good idea but becoming lost in this vast open sea of excessive love! Effective love against all trials and one affective in all circumstances!
You, therefore, by dear daughters, follow these generous divine examples; suffering willingly; love God with all your hearts. Love His creatures, and especially the needy or the sick or the dying; in them recognise that Jesus awaits your service, your sacrifices. Remember that at the divine judgement your deeds will pass before all of you, and not only them – also your thoughts, your wishes as well, where you have not been satisfied with doing, but do everything with the greatest perfection possible, and with a righteous purpose so that you please God. So what you manage to do before anything else, ask for it with great trust of God, the generous dispenser of all graces without which we can do nothing on our own.
In order to facilitate the pathway of perfection and help you to go to heaven, meditate at the holy feet of the Crucified Jesus Christ and study your inclinations, your tendencies and your passions; when you see that you are defective do not be dismayed but turn with filial trust to Jesus, to our loving mother the most holy Mary, and to St. Camillus, our protector. Ask for help, aid, strength, activity and perseverance in order to combat and defeat yourselves, against yourselves. Search with divine help to achieve some victory each day, and you will be happy my dear daughters; very happy if in acting in this way, that is to say fighting and winning every day, you manage to triumph over yourselves; to be mistresses of your hearts, of your passions, so that you can use all of them in God’s service, to the advantage of your souls. This practice, which is very useful for you, is commended to you by your mother who so loves you and whom you love; and she commends it to you as her final advice; do not forget it my beloved daughters.
O how every life passes and disappears! God through His mercy has granted to me a long life during which I could have gained much merit…many years have passed…but how? You know, my God! And long shall I still live on this earth? Little time compared to the time I have lived! And what will I do to redeem the bad that I have done, the bad examples that I have set to you, whom I was obliged to edify by setting a good example through a fearless and holy life?
O forgive me my God! These lines that I wrote for most beloved daughters, of whom I ask forgiveness for not having edified them by setting a good example and by a holiness of life, may also be of value to you as well to obtain the obtaining (sic!) mercy and forgiveness, and to fill my spirit with a steady hope that you have forgiven me; that I may be in your grace; that the little time that remains of my life may be amends, tribute of sincere penance; and the sufferings that will accompany this last illness of mine and my death I already offer you, together with the merits and the passion of Jesus, in expiation of my sins.
Where will I be when my daughters read this sheet of paper? I hope in divine mercy, in the infinite merits of Jesus, in the protection of our loving mother Mary of Sorrows, of St. Camillus de Lellis, of St. Joseph and all the men and women saints, of my guardian angel, so that my soul will be in a place of health. But who knows who much time I must pass to burn in purgatory, so that I may expiate my sins?
Purgatory, even when prolonged, will be a mercy of God for those like me who have deserved hell. But being held back from being united to my God, to my divine redeemer and loving father, to be impeded from embracing my loving mother the most holy Mary…just thinking of it makes me pale and tremble. Well do I know that these emphases afflict the hearts of my loving daughters…well do not weep, I beseech you. This thought is not so that you do not shed useless tears because of my death but to commit you to saying prayers for my soul; be certain that you will not be forgotten by me, that I will love you with greater perfection and that I will pray for all my beloved daughters with greater efficacy that I have been able to do, and I could have done living with you on this earth.
When reading this sheet of paper each one of you will imagine that your mother is speaking to you, declaring her last wish, which is that she will always be alive in your minds and your hearts. The last wishes, the last advice and the last commendations made by parents are always sacred for their children…I do not doubt, and indeed I am comforted by, the certainty, my dear daughters, that my wishes, my warmest commendations, will be carried out.
Love God above all things; prefer a swift death to giving Him offence. Love the state in which, by His mercy, God has placed you, performing with alacrity and speed your duties. Love one another, bearing with charity the defects of others. Be humble, patient, mortified, obedient; and thus you will live tranquil loves; have the deaths of the just and you will enjoy in heaven the promised reward to the true followers of Jesus Christ, and you will have imitated him in his humility, charity and obedience to his eternal Father, to the point of dying like a criminal on a cross.
This model of perfection (and I repeat this to you most willingly) should always be in front of your eyes, and even more engraved in your hearts; and do not be afraid; his mercy will always be ready to come to your aid, and in all your spiritual and temporal needs.
Farewell, my most beloved daughters; my most ardent wish, my last desire is to see us all together united in the blessed Fatherhood; and I hope this of the mercy of God, in the merits of Jesus, in the protection of the Most Holy Mary of Sorrows. May the eternal Father, the divine Son and the Holy Spirit, the one and triune God, protect you! May the most holy Mother of Jesus and our most loving mother bless you, protect you and comfort you! May our protector St. Camillus de Lellis bless you and direct your steps! Receive and welcome this farewell, and a tear, which in thinking of detaching myself from you escapes from my eyes, and also from your most affectionate
Sister and mother in Jesus Christ MARIA BRUN BARBANTINI
Unworthy servant of the adored most holy Mary.
Lucca 27 September 1859