Omelija fil-funeral ta’ P. Piju tal-Bambin Ġesù ocd

Omelija mill-Provinċjal tal-Ordni Tereżjan f’Malta Patri Juan De Bono ocd fil-quddiesa tal-funeral ta’ Patri Piju Sammut ocd li saret nhar it-Tnejn 1 ta’ Frar 2021 fil-Knisja ta’ Santa Tereża, Birkirkara.

“U l-biċċa tal-baħar fraġli intilfet taħt il-mewġ !” (P 115)

Patri Piju Sammut ocd

Kien il-Ġimgħa 29 ta’ Jannar 2021 meta ‘l-biċċa tal-baħar fraġli intilfet taħt il-mewġ” tat-Trinita’, li l-biċċa tal-baħar waslet fil-port li lejha kienet indirizzata fil-mument tal-magħmudija, wara vjaġġ relattivament qasir imma b’maltempata waħda wara l-oħra, imma li r-rabta mas-Sagramenti, ma’ Marija, mal-Karmelu Tereżjan u l-Mistiċi tiegħu, fosthom San Ġwann tas-Salib żammew lil ħuna P. Piju tal-Bambin Ġesu’ dejjem fil-wiċċ ta’ dan it-taqlib kollu, u baqa’ għaddej sod sa ma wasal fil-port etern fejn illum qegħdin nikkontemplawh.

Jikteb San Ġwann tas-Salib:

“Tajjeb ninnotaw li Alla jgħammar moħbi fis-sigriet fis-sustanza tal-erwieħ kollha għax kieku ma kienx hekk, ma jistgħux jeżistu.

Imma hemm differenza fil-modi differenti ta’ preżenza.

F’xi wħud jgħammar waħdu, f’oħrajn le,

f’xi wħud jgħammar kuntent, f’oħrajn ikun imdejjaq;

f’xi wħud iħossu qiegħed f’daru, jikkmanda u jmexxi kollox, f’oħrajn iħossu barrani f’dar l-oħrajn, fejn ma jħalluhx jikkmanda jew jagħmel xi ħaġa oħra.

Ir-ruħ li fiha anqas gosti u appetiti proprji hija dik li fiha jgħammar iżjed waħdu, aktar kuntent u iżjed iħossu f’daru li jmexxiha u jiggvernaha: u hemm jgħammar wisq aktar sigriet aktar ma jkun waħdu… b’tgħannieqa wisq iżjed intima, daqs kemm hi safja u mbiegħda minn kull ħlejqa li mhix Alla… Kemm hi xortiha tajba r-ruħ li dejjem tħoss li Alla rieqed u qed jistrieħ ġo fiha! Kemm jaqbel li hi tiċċaħħad mill-ħwejjeġ u n-negozji tad-dinja, u tgħix fi trankwillità immensa biex bl-ebda ħoss jew ċaqliqa ma tinkwieta lil qalbha fejn jgħammar il-Maħbub…” (Fjamma strofa IV, 14).

Ninsabu hawn miġbura biex nagħtu l-aħħar tislima lil ħuna P. Piju tal-Bambin Ġesu’, isem li jiġbor dak kollu li kienet din ir-ruħ, dan l-istrument f’idejn Alla, li aħna lkoll li ninsabu hawn, xrobna mill-esperjenza tiegħu ta’ Alla.

Kollox jitlaq minn kuntest, kuntest important, kuntest li kien il-mixtla li sparatu ‘l fuq bħalma niċċa ċkejkna tispara ‘l fuq rocket lejn l-orbita, u wara żmien li l-bniedem jrid jissielet biex jeħles mil-qawwa tal-gravita’ li tagħha ġisimna huwa skjav, dak li San Ġwann tas-Salib isejjaħilhom lejl attiv u passiv, ir-ruħ tintrefa’ ‘l fuq lejn l-Għajn ta’ kull imħabba, lejn Alla nnifsu u tintilef tgħum f’dan l-Oċejan mingħajr qiegħ.

Edwin hu frott l-imħabba bejn is-Surmast Anthony Sammut u martu Maria Pija, imħabba li ħalliet erba’ ulied, li tnejn minnhom jinsabu diġa ma’ missierhom Anthony fis-Sema. Imma għad li kien għadu ċkejken, Edwin kien impressjonat mill-imħabba li ħaddnitu sa’ minn qabel ma tnissel fil-ġuf ta’ Marija Pija. Ta’ tifel intelliġenti li kien, beda jfittex ġewwa qalbu, u mhux fuq google search jew fuq fb, l-għajn li minnha kienu mlew ħajjithom missieru Anthony u ommu Marija Pija, janaliżża u jfassal ħajtu mhux fuq mudel tal-imħabba fraġli bħalma nistgħu ngħixuha aħna l-umani, wkoll jekk fl-għola livel kif rahom jgħixuha l-istess ġenituri tiegħu, imma fuq l-Imħabba nnifisha kif uriehilna Dak li kien minn dejjem fi ħdan il-Missier, l-Iben il-Maħbub.

Għadu pre-adoloxxenti dawwar ħarstu lejn l-espressjoni l-aktar sublimi tal-imħabba: t-Trinita’ Qaddisa. Edwin ma kellux għalfejn jilbes earphones biex jiskopri din l-imħabba Trinitarja, għax il-ħoss li sema’ minn Carmel Street ġej mil-kunvent tal-wied, kien qiegħed itarxu, u kien dan li wasslu bla ma ħasibha darbtejn, u mingħajr ma tella xi post fuq fb biex jgħid x’se jagħmel, li mhux biss daħal reliġjuż, imma li daħal f’dak l’Ordni fejn seta’ jorqod u jqum ma’ esperti ta’ din l-imħabba, fejn il-mistiċi seta’ jsibhom ma’ wiċċu malli jiftaħ għajnejh u kull fejn idawwar l-ħarsa tiegħu fil-kurituri twal mimlija bil-Presencia Dei.

Huwa ta’ bidu għas-sena tan-Novizjat eżattament ftit siegħat qabel ma Malta saret indipendenti, jiġifieri nhar il-20 ta’ Settembru tal-1964, u għalhekk meta dan it-tifel libes il-libsa ta’ Marija, minn fuq il-bejt tal-kunvent ta’ Bormla f’dik il-lejla sajfija hu seta’ jammira kif Malta kollha kienet b’libsa ta’ festa u kienet qiegħdha tifraħ miegħu u tiċċelebra bin-nar sa wara nofs-il-lejl, id-dħul tiegħu fil-Karmelu.

Edwin, ukoll jekk għadu tifel ta’ 16-il-sena, imma kien aktar jilħaqlu mil-politiċi maltin, għax hu niżżel bil-galbu u b’sens ta’ maturita’ l-bandiera tal-bniedem il-qadim li kien qiegħed iżommu mjassar f’ġisem marid u destinat għat-telfien ta’ dejjem, u tellgħa l-bandiera bajda tas-safa u ħamra tad-demm tal-martri, u immarkata bis-salib tar-rebbieħa, tal-qalbiena, cioe’ tad-dixxipli veri ta’ Ġesu’ Kristu. Din kienet se tkun il-bandiera l-ġdida li kienet se tibda tperper f’ħajtu minn issa ‘l quddiem.

Ta’ tifel li kien ma setax jifhem għala l-pajjiż kien qiegħed jagħmel dawk l-ispejjez kollha biex jiċċelebra l-bidu tan-Novizjat tiegħu. Għalih kienet l-aktar ħaġa normali li jidħol fil-Karmelu Tereżjan, għax hekk kif skopra l-perla moħbija fl-għalqa tal-Karmelu, mar biegħ kull ma kellu u xtara dik l-għalqa. Hu fehem sew, u mal-ewwel għax kien tfajjel ta’ intelliġenza li tgħaxxqek li Dak li għażlu għaliH mhux biss ma kienx se jidħaq bih, imma li kien se jibqa’ fidil lejn il-kelma li tah meta sejjaħlu. Din il-fedelta’ t-Trinita’ li kienet f’temmen f’dan it-tfajjel Edwin, baqgħet turiha sal-mument tal-mewt tiegħu, fejn il-Missier li anki f’dan riedu jkun jixbah lill Ibnu.

Patri Piju Sammut ocd

Kien sbieħ il-Ħamis (bħal Ġesu’) 28 ta’ Jannar, li Edwin beda l-aħħar vjaġġ tiegħu, u kien proprju fil-jum tal-Ġimgħa, u ftit wara li fih is-Sinjur tagħna ġie minxur fuq Salib, li ħuna P. Piju għadda minn din il-ħajja għal ħajja li dejjem xtaq, u hekk il-Madonna setgħet tiġbru magħha fl-ewwel Sibt li kellu jasal anqas minn tnax il-siegħa wara u ddaħlitu fil-Karmelu tas-Sema.  

Issa għaddew tmienja u erbgħin siegħa minn mindu tar lejn il-Missier u fil-Ġenna għadhom ma waqfux jtellgħu kaxxa wara l-oħra tal-kulur, tal-berqa u saħansitra tal-ġelatina, kaxxi minn dawk li jifqgħulek it-tanbur ta’ widnejk, u li għad li Malta huma llegali, imma li fil-Ġenna għadhom jistgħu jaħarqu. Iva għax għal Alla, fil-bieb tal-Ġenna ma wasalx Karkaliż, ma wasalx Katekista, ma wasalx Majestru tan-Novizzi, ma wasalx Missjunarju imma fil-bieb tal-Ġenna wasal Tereżjan, u Tereżjan bil-libsa li l-Madonna stess tilbes fil-Ġenna (cfr., dehra ġewwa Fatima), membru ta’ dan l-Ordni li għad li ma jissejjaħx ‘serafika’, hu aktar minn serafiku, għax mela l-Ġenna b’Mistiċi li esperimentaw b’qawwa tal-blat taż-żonqor l-għaqda ma’ Alla minn din il-ħajja stess, b’mistiċi li ma jistax ma jħallux lil kull min jiġi f’kuntatt magħhom b’ħalqhom miftuħ.

Ifraħ għalhekk Marija, ifraħ Tereża, ibnek ieħor minn Carmel Street, B’Kara wasal, wasal bid-dawl għadu mixgħul tal-fedelta’ lejn il-wegħdiet tal-magħmudija li pproffessaw għalih il-ġenituri tiegħu u lejn il-Professjoni li hu għamel nhar l-Erbgħa 22 ta’ Settembru tal-1965. Iva issa ġbarthom t-tlieta li huma l-aħwa ta’ Carmel Street (P. Alessandru u P. Manwel), u ġbarthom fuq medda ta’ tliet snin u nofs. Int ħadthom miegħek u aħna nħossuna issa ltiema.

Waqt li kien qiegħed iħalli din id-dinja t-Trinita’ baqgħet turi lil ħuna P. Piju sal-aħħar kemm Hi fidila mal-kelma li tagħtu meta ġennitu bl-imħabba lejHa, u li hu li tant stinka, bl-enerġija li ma tevapora qatt tiegħu u li kien imħeġġeġ fiha, biex jagħmel magħrufa. Fost il-ħidmiet kbar ta’ dan ir-reliġjuż kien hemm dak li jagħmel magħruf permezz tal-predikazjoni li tqanqlek u bil-kitba mexxejja tiegħu lil Mistiku missier tagħna u Duttur tal-Knisja San Ġwann tas-Salib. Ma kienx jitkellem minn dak li studja, imma minn dak li daq hu nnifsu u għalhekk ix-xhieda kienet aktar ħajja, ċċaqlaq il-muntanji u tmiss ‘il qlub. U Alla niżżel dan fil-pitazz li Hu jżomm handy dejjem fuqu biex iniżżel xi notamenti, u t-Trinita’ ddeċidew li P. Piju jkollu mewt tixbah lil dik tal-Mistiku ispirat minnhom San Ġwann tas-Salib. Il-Pirjol tiegħu kien ħdejh, filwaqt li l-komunita’ tal-Monasteru ta’ Omm Alla ġewwa tal-Virtu’ kienet qiegħdin ikantaw l-Uffiċju Divin, u dik ġewwa Morristown kienet qiegħdha tisma’ l-quddiesa offruta għal dan il-moribond, f’din is-sena ddedikata lil San Ġużepp.

Iva Alla hu Fidil. Alla hu Fidil lejn il-Kelma li Hu jagħtina. Huwa aħna li ħafna drabi niddubitaw mil-kelma tiegħU u nibdew naħsbu li Alla m’għadux “il-Kollu Qawwi”. Imma “dak li għalina jidher li ma jistax jitwettaq, jitwettaq meta jrid Hu” (Ittra 330). U għalhekk jiena ndur lejk P. Piju u nitolbok tqawwi lilna ħutek fil-fidi, fil-fidi fil-kelma li Ġesu’ tana, li se tibqa’ magħna sa’ l-aħħar taż-żmien. Meta naraw il-mewġ tielgħa fuq id-dgħajsa u int frisk daqs ħassa għadha tinqala’ mil-bidwi ħabrieki tagħna, tinsab rieqed fuq imħadda ratba u komnda. U aħna nduru lejk u ngħidulek: “Mgħallem, dan qisu mhu xejn għalik li aħna se nintilfu ?”. U Hu jdur lejja u lejna l-aħwa Skalzi tal-Verġni Mqaddsa Marija tal-Għolja tal-Karmelu: “dal-biża kollu għaliex? Mela ma għandkomx fidi?”. U jiena u ħuti l-patrijiet u s-sorijiet b’dembna taħt il-blata nbaxxu għajnejna u ngħidulu b’vuċi li ttgħarrax: “Nemmen, kattar fina l-fidi”.  

Fil-Liturġija tal-Ħadd li għadda, liturġija li kien qiegħed igħix fl-ispirtu tagħha P. Piju meta l-Mulej sejjaħlu, kienet kollha kemm hi ddur ma’ fatt li ma jista’ jmerih ħadd, jiġifieri li ‘ż-żmien qsar’ (it-tieni qari), u li ‘ż-żmien huwa mitmum’ (Vanġelu), u għalhekk “kull minuta ġiet mogħtija lilna biex aħna nniżżlu l-għeruq tagħna f’Alla” (Ittra 333), u kien dan li wassal liċ-ċkejken Edwin jitlaq x-xbiek fuq il-bastiment bħalma kienu għamlu qablu Xmun u ħuh Indri, u saħansitra li waslu lil Edwin biex iħalli l-ġenituri tiegħu li tant kien iħobb, bħalma kienu għamlu qablu Ġwanni u ħuh Ġakbu, u jmur jara fejn jgħammar dan Alla, u sab li Hu jinsab moħbi ġewwa fih.

Bħal Ġona għal xi żmien kellu jħalli lil pajjiżu biex imur il-Canada, l-Irlanda, Guam u l-Istati Uniti, jiġifieri biex imur fil-belt il-kbira biex ixandrilha ‘dak li ngħidlek jien’. U Alla ried li kellhom ikunu uħud minn dawk li hu evanġeliżża b’tant ħeġġa ġewwa Guam u li bħalu kienu skoprew li l-perla moħbija kienet tinsab midfuna fl-għalqa għammiela tal-Karmelu Tereżjani, li kellhom jakkumpanjawh bit-talb fl-isbaħ mument tal-ħajja tagħna (wara l-mument li rċevejna l-magħmudija), fil-mument jiġifieri meta ‘l-biċċa tal-baħar fraġli tintilfet taħt il-mewġ’. Tikteb dik li issa qiegħed f’kumpanija aktar stretta magħha P. Piju, Eliżabetta tat-Trinita’:

“Ta’ Laudem Gloriae hawn hi d-dgħajsa ċkejkna,

Oh Omm, għamlet vjaġġ tant sabiħ!…

F’lejl trankwill, fi skiet profond,

Kien iterraq ħelu fuq l-Oċejan immens,

Kollox kien mistrieħ taħt is-senduq tas-sema

U kien jidher li tinstema «il-vuċi l-kbira ta’ Alla».

Imma f’daqqa qamu diversi mewġ profond

U l-biċċa tal-baħar fraġli intilfet taħt il-mewġ !

Kienet it-Trinita’ li fetħitli Sidirha

U jiena sibt iċ-ċentru tiegħi fl-Abbis divin !

Mhux se tarani aktar fuq  ix-xatt,

Ruħi tistrieħ f’din l-immensita’

U tgħix flimkien mat-Tlieta tagħha bħal fl-eternita’ !

Oh Omm, isma’ tajjeb it-tmiem ta’ din l-istorja

Ħalli tferraħ lit-Tifħir tal-glorja tiegħek⁚ (Poezija 115)

Iva P. Piju strieħ issa b’mod sħiħ fi ħdan it-Trinita’ li fetħulek qalbek għaliha ommok u missierek, li fetħulek moħħok għaliha ħutek fil-Karmelu fosthom Tereża ta’ Ġesu’, Ġwanni tas-Salib, Tereża tal-Bambin Ġesu’, Tereża tal-Bambin Ġesu’ u Eliżabetta tat-Trinita’. Din tal-aħħar ma kellekx biżżejjed żmien biex tiskopriha għax il-ħajja hi wisq qasira, anki jekk kont int li mħeġġeġ kif dejjem kont ħeġġiġt lil mibki P. Anselmu u lil ħuna P. Wistin biex jiktbu ħajja ċkejkna ta’ dik li saret Beata fiż-żmien li kont int Provinċjal, u li kont int stess li qlibtli bil-lingwa ngliża l-ktieb li kont ktibt dwarha jiena nnifisi xi snin ilu. Imma issa f’tebtqa ta’ għajn tista’ tifhem dak li jiena skoprejt dakinhar li int emmint fija, u libbistni l-libsa tal-Karmelu nhar l-14 ta’ Settembru tal-1988. Grazzi P. Piju talli emmint fija u f’P. Adrian li dħalna f’din il-familja reliġjuża matul id-disa’ snin u nofs li domnt int Provinċjal (u li bqajna). Għinni issa ngħumu f’Alla kif qiegħed tgħum fih issa int.

Lil-oħtha Ghita, Eliżabetta ftit wara l-ewwel kriżi li wasslitha biex ssir kollha kemm hi konformi ma’ Kristu f’mewt tixbah lil tiegħU, Eliżabetta tikteb:

 “Ma nafx jekk waslitx is-siegħa li ngħaddi minn din id-dinja għal għand Missieri, għax nħossni aħjar u ċ-ċkejkna qaddisa ta’ Beaune jidher li tixtieq tfejjaqni. Imma, ara, xi mindaqqiet jidhirli li l-Ajkla divina, trid tinżel b’qawwa kbira fuq il-priża ċkejkna tagħha biex iġġorha fejn jinsab Hu: fid-dawl li jgħammex! Int kont taf dejjem tinsa lilek innifsek biex tferraħ lil Sabetta tiegħek, u jiena ċerta li jekk jiena ntir ‘l boghod int tifraħ bl-ewwel laqgħa tiegħi mal-Ġmiel divin. Meta jaqa’ l-velu, b’liema ferħ se nintilef fis-sigriet ta’ Wiċċu, u hu hemm li jiena ngħaddi l-eternita’ tiegħi, fi ħdan ta’ din it-Trinita’ li kienet diġa l-għamara tiegħi hawn isfel. Aħseb, Ghita tiegħi! tikkontempla fid-dawl l-isplenduri tal-Esseri divin, tistudja fid-dettal il-profonditajiet kollha tal-misteru tiegħU, tkun imdewba ma Dak li tħobb, tkanta bla waqfien il-glorja tiegħU u l-imħabba tiegħU, tkun tixbah lilU għax taraH kif inhu hu!….

Ċkejkna oħt, jiena nkun ferħana li mmur hemm fuq biex inkun l-Anġlu tiegħek. Kemm inkun għajjura bil-ġmiel ta’ ruħek diġa tant maħbuba fuq l-art! Jiena se nħallilek d-devozjoni tiegħi lejn it-Tlieta, lejn l-«Imħabba». Għix ġewwa fik flimkien magħhom fis-Sema ta’ ruħek: il-Missier jgħattik bid-dell tiegħU, jqiegħed bħal sħaba bejnek u bejn il-ħwejjeġ tad-dinja biex iħarsek kollok għaliH, Hu jikkomikalek il-qawwa tiegħU ħalli int tħobbu b’imħabba qawwija daqs il-mewt; il-Verb jistampa ġewwa ruħek bħal fuq kristal ix-xbieha tal-ġmiel tiegħU, ħalli int tkun safja bis-safa tiegħU, imdawla bid-dawl tiegħU, l-Ispirtu s-Santu jbiddlek fi strument tal-korda misterjuża li, fis-skiet, taħt il-mess divin, tipproduċi kantiku manifiku lill-Imħabba; imbagħad int tkun «it-tifħir tal-glorja tiegħU», dak li jiena ħlomnt li nkun fuq l-art. Tkun int li tieħu posti; jiena nkun «Laudem gloriae» quddiem it-tron tal-Ħaruf, u int «Laudem gloriae» fiċ-ċentru ta’ ruħek; oħt ċkejkna, din tkun l-għaqda bejnietna għal dejjem. Emmen dejjem fl-Imħabba. Jekk int għandek għax tbati, aħseb li int maħbuba aktar, u kanta grazzi dejjem. Hu tant għajjur bil-ġmiel ta’ ruħek… ma jħarisx ħlief lejn dan. Għallem liċ-ċkejknin biex jgħixu taħt il-ħarsa tal-Imgħallem. Nixtieq ħafna li Sabeth jkollha d-devozjoni li għandi jiena lejn it-Tlieta. Jiena nkun għall-ewwel Tqarbina tagħhom, jiena ngħinek tippreparhom għaliha. Itlob għalija; jiena offendejt lill-Imgħallem tiegħi aktar milli inti temmen; imma l-aktar għidlU grazzi: glorja kulljum. Skużani jiena tajtek spiss l-eżempju ħażin.

Saħħiet, kemm inħobbok, oħt ċkejkna… Għandu mnejn ma ndumx ma mmur nintilef fil-Ħuġġieġa tal-imħabba; x’jimporta, fis-Sema jew fuq l-art, ejjew ngħixu fl-Imħabba biex nigglorifikaw l-Imħabba!” (Ittra 269).

Stajna hawn semmejna l-proġetti kollha jew almenu wħud minn dawk li ħadem fuqhom P. Piju matul ħajtu, imma apparti li ma konna nispiċċaw qatt, għax hu baqa’ mimli inizjattivi sa ftit siegħat qabel ma miet, bħalma kienet l-aħħar email li bgħatli ftit qabel ma ntilef minn sensiegħ, fejn qalli li tkellem mal-Pirjol u qalli li l-komunita’ ta’ Bormla kienet se tagħmel l-irtir tagħhom bħala komunita’ flimkien, jew l-ideja li jbiddel wieħed mill-erbgħa kunventi tagħna f’Dar tat-Talb, jew is-snin bħala Provinċjal ta’ din il-familja reliġjuza, jew is-snin bħala Rettur tas-Seminarju Redemptoris Mater ġewwa Guam, jew itineranti fuq diversi gżejjer fil-Paċifiku, jew meta rrestawra n-Novizjat biex jiena nkun nista’ jkolli ambjent aktar dinjituż biex jilqagħni meta dħalt Tereżjan, jew meta ngħata bil-kitba u fil-predikazjoni, jew il-ħsibijiet tiegħu għal monasteru u l-komunita’ ta’ Santa Margherita, jew is-snin li qatta’ bħala għalliem, b’ex studenta tiegħu li tinsab bħalissa ġewwa Brussel, Kummisarju tal-Ewropa. Imma s-siegħa li qegħdin ngħixu hi wisq solenni biex nintilfu fuq ħwejjeġ daqstant futili, iva għax meta tasal Putirjal, lanqas biss igħaddilek minn moħħok kemm il-darba jkunu daru l-erba’ roti tax-xarabank sa ma wasluk hemm, imma l-ħsieb tiegħek jkun ta’ x’se tagħmel bla ma titlef ħin issa li wasalt fid-destinazjoni tiegħek. Sempliċi r-risposta, aqbeż u għum fit-Trinita’.

P. Piju kien Tereżjan u miet bħala Tereżjan sostnut minn tradizjoni ta’ erbgħa mija u ħamsin sena. Meta l-Mulej sejjaħlu fi tfulitu, huwa wieġeb bla tnikkir «Hawn jien! Għalfejn sejjaħtli?», u meta ntebaħ permezz tad-Direzjoni Spiritwali li Dak li sejjaħlu ma kien ħadd għajr il-Missier, huwa wieġeb: “Tkellem, Mulej, għax il-qaddej tiegħek qiegħed jisma’”. Iva P. Piju “kiber, u l-Mulej kien miegħu, u ma ħalla ebda kelma milli qal tmur fix-xejn”.

Issa huwa l-mument tagħna li nlaħmu dik iż-żerrigħa li Hu tefgħalna fina permezz tal-qaddej fidil tiegħU Edwin Sammut, dan il-‘profeta … minn fost ħutu’, li Alla ‘qiegħed kliemu fuq fommu’, u P. Piju ‘ħabbrilhom Liturġija tal-Kelma’ u ‘kulma nordnalu’ l-Mulek, “ħsiebu biss fil-ħwejjeġ tal-Mulej, jiġifieri, kif jogħġob lill-Mulej” u “jgħallimhom bħal wieħed li għandu s-setgħa, u mhux bħall-kittieba” (liturġija tal-bieraħ).

Agħtih oh Mulej il-mistrieħ ta’ dejjem, id-dawl ta’ dejjem jissi lilu, jistriueħ fil-paċi. Hekk ikun.

I wish to give my warm welcome to all those who are following this Eucharist through web cam all around the globe especially by those who strongly benefited from the ministry of Fr Pius in Guam, Canada, Pacific Islands, Ireland and elsewhere. Desidero salutare anche quelli che seguano questa trasmissione, soprattutto quelli appartenenti all’Ordine dei Carmelitani Scalzi. A special welcome to Mother Therese and the community at Morristown, who for the last years have been directly benefitting from the love Fr Pius has for the Trinity and for the Order. I wish to especialy welcome the community at Tal-Virtu’ who have had the great luck that while they were praying the Divine Office, Fr Pius passed away. Fr Pius opened for you the window to the Trinity and to Carmel, now God chose you to open the window for Paradise to Fr Pius. All united, we pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Pius and ask him to stay with us till we too pass away. We ask Fr Pius to bless this Religious Order who he so deeply loved to be blessed with new and holy vocations as with the monastery at Morristown . This mass will be celebrated in Fr Pius mother tongue, Maltese.


Homily during the funeral Mass of Fr Pius of the Infant Jesus ocd

The “frail little skiff was lost under the waves” (P 115)

It was Friday, January 29, 2021, when the frail little skiff was lost under the waves of the Holy Trinity. The sea vessel made it to the port that it was directed towards on the day of its baptism, after a journey that was fairly short, yet undergoing one storm after another.  The tie to the sacraments, and to Mary, the Teresian Carmel and its Mystics – amongst them St. John of the Cross – kept our brother Pius of the Child Jesus battered yet ever afloat, as he boldly made it to the eternal harbor where today we can envision him.

St. John of the Cross writes:

“It should be known that God dwells secretly in all souls and is hidden in their substance, for otherwise they would not last.

Yet there is a difference, a great difference, in his dwelling in them. In some souls he dwells alone, and in others he does not dwell alone.

Abiding in some he is pleased; and in others, he is displeased. He lives in some as though in his own house, commanding and ruling everything;

and in others as though a stranger in a strange house, where they do not permit him to give orders or do anything.

It is in the soul in which less of its own appetites and pleasures dwell where he dwells more alone, more pleased, and more as though in his own house, ruling and governing it.

And he dwells more in secret, the more he dwells alone…

Yet it is not secret to the soul itself that has attained this perfection, for within itself it has the experience of this intimate embrace” (Living Flame of Love, IV, 14).

We gather today to bid farewell to our brother, Fr. Pius of the Child Jesus: a name that encapsulates all that this soul stood for. All of us gathered here have benefited from the experience of God enjoyed by this instrument in God’s Hand.

Everything takes off from an important context – the cradle that shot him upwards just as a little detonator shoots a rocket towards the orbit.  After a time during which man has to struggle to rid himself of the force of gravity which enslaves one’s body (which St. John of the Cross calls “the active and the passive night”), the soul is lifted up towards the Source of all love; towards God Himself, and swims without hindrance in this bottomless Ocean.

Edwin was the fruit of the love between Maestro Anthony Sammut and his wife, Maria Pia. A love that bore four children – two of whom are already with their father, Anthony – in heaven.  Even in his infancy, Edwin was marked by the love that enveloped him even before he was conceived in the womb of his mother, Maria Pia.  Intelligent as he was, since childhood he searched within himself – not on Google or Facebook – for the fount that enriched the life of his parents.  He analyzed and sought to pattern his life not on a fragile love as we humans tend to do (even if in its highest level he had seen his own parents experience it).  But on Love Itself, as revealed to us by the One eternally begotten by the Father, the Beloved Son.

While still a pre-adolescent, he turned his gaze towards the most sublime expression of love: the Holy Trinity.  Edwin need not wear earphones in order to discover this Trinitarian Love, as the sound that he heard on Carmel Street (where he grew up, a stone’s throw away from the Carmelite Church where the funeral Mass was celebrated – trans.)emanating from the Teresian Convent commonly known as ‘of the valley’ was deafening him.  This is what led him, without thinking twice, to not only become a religious, but to join the Order where he could sleep and swim along with experts on this love – where he could see the mystics from the moment he awoke as he gazed through the long corridors imbued with the Presencia Dei.

He joined the novitiate on September 20, 1964 – just a few hours before Malta gained its independence (at midnight).  So when this kid put on the Marian cloak on that summery evening, from the rooftop of the Convent of Cospicua, he could see all of Malta in a festive garment, and wonder how it could be celebrating his entrance into Carmel with fireworks till after midnight!

Even if still a 16-year-old boy, Edwin outsmarted the Maltese politicians, as he tidily and maturely lowered the banner of the old man that kept him enslaved in a sick body doomed to die, and raised the flag of the valiant disciples of Jesus Christ:

Maltese all out to secure victory for the Maltese flag - TVM News

white (purity) and red (blood of the martyrs), marked by the cross of victors (the three components of the Maltese flag – trans.). This would be the new flag that would wave in his life from this point onwards.

Child that he was, Edwin could not understand why the nation would spend so much money to celebrate his entrance into the novitiate.  For him, entering into the Teresian Carmel was the most normal thing. Thus he could discover the hidden pearl in the field of Carmel: he sold all he had to buy the field.  He understood fully well – and promptly, as he was endowed with an amazing intelligence – that the One who chose him as His own would not trick him, but would remain faithful to the promise made when He called him.  This fidelity of the Holy Trinity remained amply visible till the moment of his death, as the Father willed that even at that moment Edwin would resemble His Son.

It was on Thursday (January 28th) that Edwin started his final journey, and it was specifically on the day of Friday – just as our Blessed Lord hung upon the Cross – that our brother Pius, passed from this life to the one he always yearned for. Thus, less than twelve hours later, the Blessed Mother could Herself carry him to the Heavenly Carmel on the first Saturday after his journey.

Forty-eight hours have elapsed since his journey towards the Father. Noisy, colorful fireworks (the kind that are now illegal in Malta yet permissible above) continue to adorn heaven. Because at the Gate of Heaven, it is not a man from Birkirkara (his native town – trans.), a catechist, a Master of Novices or a missionary that has shown up, but a Teresian Carmelite, robed in the same garment worn by the same Blessed Mother in heaven (cfr. Fatima Apparition); a member of this Order, which, while not called “seraphic” is more than seraphic, as it has packed heaven with jaw-dropping Mystics who have forged an unbreakable union with God even in this life.

Rejoice, Mary!  Rejoice, Theresa! Another son of yours from Carmel Street (Birkirkara) arrives, still bearing the light of fidelity to the Baptismal Promises made for him by his parents, and to the Profession that he made on September 22, 1965.  In the period of three and a half years, you have gathered the three brothers from Carmel Street (the others being Fr. Alessandro Pace and Fr. Emmanuel Schembri).  You have embraced them, and we now feel like orphans.

Up to the very moment our brother departed from this earth, the Holy Trinity remained true to its fidelity to the word through which he fell in love with It, and which he indefatigably sought to propagate.  Among the great works of this religious was his yearning to make known – through moving preaching and free-flowing writing – our Mystical Father and Church Doctor, St. John of the Cross.  He did not parrot what he learned in text-books, but spoke of what he himself had savored, thus offering a lively witness which moved mountains and touched hearts.  God took note of it, and willed that Fr. Pius be granted a death much akin to that experienced by the Mystic, St. John of the Cross.  His Prior was with him, while the community at Mother of God Monastery in Tal-Virtu’ (daughter-house in Malta of the Morristown Carmel – trans.)  sang the Divine Office.  Meanwhile, the community in Morristown was offering the Mass for the Dying, during this year dedicated to St. Joseph.

Yes, God is truly faithful!  He is faithful to the Word that He gives us.  On many occasions, we are the ones who doubt His Word, and wonder if He is still the “All Powerful.” But “what seems unattainable to us, becomes attainable when He so wishes” (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Letter 330).  So I turn to you, Fr. Pius, and ask you to strengthen us, your brothers, in the faith – that we may believe in the promise made to us by Jesus, that He would be with us until the end of time.  When we storm-tossed in the boat, while He lies on a soft and comfortable pillow without a care in the world.  We turn to you and say, “Master, do you not care that we are perishing?”  And He turns to us – the Discalced Brothers of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel – and says, “Why all this fear?  Do you not have faith?”  And we – the brothers and nuns – will lower our eyes and say in a deafening tone, “I believe, strengthen our faith!”

The Liturgy of the Third Sunday at Ordinary time – the spirit of which Fr. Pius was living through when the Lord called him – all revolved around an undeniable fact: that the “time is short” (Second Reading) and that “time is fulfilled” (Gospel). So “each minute is given us in order to ‘root’ us deeper in God” (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Letter 333).  This is what led young Edwin to drop the nets on the boat as Simon and his brother Andrew had done before him, and impelled Edwin to leaves his parents whom he really loved, as James and his brother John did, and went to see where this God lives, only to find that He was hidden within him.

Just like Jonah, for a time he had to leave his country to go to Canada, Ireland, Guam and the United States. That is, to go to the big city to announce to it “whatever I tell you.”  And God willed that it would be some of those whom he had evangelized with such fervor when he was on Guam and like him discovered that the precious pearl was buried in the fruitful field of Carmel, who would accompany him with their prayers in the most beautiful moment of our lives (besides the moment we received our baptism) – in the moment when “the frail little skiff is lost under the waves.”  [Skiff – a shallow, flat-bottomed open boat with sharp bow and square stern – trans.]

The one whose intimate company Fr. Pius now enjoys – St. Elizabeth of the Trinity – writes:

“Behold the vessel of Laudem Gloriae,
O Mother, what a splendid journey was made! . . .
Through the peaceful night, all wrapped in silence,
Gently drifting upon the Ocean immense,
All at rest under the vault of Heaven,
‘The great voice of God” she hears beckon.
Swept up suddenly by fathomless swells,
The frail little skiff lost under the waves.

It was the Trinity, opening to me His breast,
And I found my center in the Divine Abyss!
Not on shore’s edge will I remain,
Into the Infinite I plunge, my share there contained.
My soul rests in this immensity,
And lives with the Three as in eternity!
O Mother, listen well to the end of this story,
So to rejoice for your Praise of Glory.  (Poem 115)

Yes, Fr. Pius, rest now fully in the bosom of the Holy Trinity: your parents opened your heart to It; your brethren in Carmel, including Teresa of Jesus, John of the Cross, Therese of the Child Jesus, Therese Benedict of the Cross and Elizabeth of the Trinity opened your mind to It.  The latter did not have enough time to discover It, as her life was cut too short. Yet it was through your encouragement while serving as Provincial that the late Fr. Anselm and Fr. Augustine wrote a short biography about the then-blessed (now Saint). It was you who translated my book about her into English.  But now, in the twinkling of an eye, you can comprehend what I discovered on that day when you vested me with the Carmelite habit on September 14, 1988.  Thank you. Fr. Pius, for your trust in me and Fr. Adrian, who both entered this religious family during the nine and a half years when you served as Father Provincial. Help us now to swim in God just as you are now in Him.

Elizabeth wrote to her sister, Ghita, soon after the crisis that led her to conform herself fully to Christ in a death resembling His: 

“I don’t know if the hour has come to pass from this world to my Father, for I am much better and the little saint of Beaune seems to want to cure me. But, you see, at times it seems to me that the Divine Eagle wants to swoop down on His little prey and carry her off to where He is: into dazzling light! You have always put your Sabeth’s happiness before your own, and I am sure that if I fly away, you will rejoice over my first meeting with Divine Beauty. When the veil is lifted, how happy I will be to disappear into the secret of His Face, and that is where I will spend my eternity, in the bosom of the Trinity that was already my dwelling place here below. Just think, my Guite! to contemplate in His light the splendors of the Divine Being, to search into all the depths of His mystery, to become one with Him whom we love, to sing unceasingly of His glory and His love, to be like Him because we see Him as He is! . . .

Little sister, I would be happy to go up above to be your Angel. How jealous I would be for the beauty of your soul that I have loved so much already here on earth! I leave you my devotion for the Three, to “Love.” Live within with Them in the heaven of your soul; the Father will overshadow you, placing something like a cloud between you and the things of this earth to keep you all His, He will communicate His power to you so you can love Him with a love as strong as death; the Word will imprint in your soul, as in a crystal, the image of His own beauty, so you may be pure with His purity, luminous with His light; the Holy Spirit will transform you into a mysterious lyre, which, in silence, beneath His divine touch, will produce a magnificent canticle to Love; then you will be “the praise of His glory” I dreamed of being on earth. You will take my place; I will be “Laudem Gloriae” before the throne of the Lamb, and you, “Laudem Gloriae” in the center of your soul; we will always be united, little sister. Always believe in Love. If you have to suffer, think that you are even more loved, and always sing in thanksgiving. He is so jealous for the beauty of your soul. . . . That is all He has in view. Teach the little ones to live in the sight of the Master. I would love for Sabeth to have my devotion to the Three. I will be at their first Communions, I will help you prepare them. Pray for me; I have offended my Master more than you think; but above all thank Him; say a Gloria every day. Forgive me for having often given you a bad example.

A Dieu, little sister, how I love you. . . . Perhaps I will go soon to be lost in the Furnace of love; whether in Heaven or on earth, we must live in Love to glorify Love!” (Letter 269).

We could have here mentioned all the projects – or at least some – that Fr. Pius worked on during his life.  But we would never stop, since his creativity knew no bounds, up to a few hours before he died.  This can be seen in an email he wrote me just before he lost consciousness, in which he told me that the community at Cospicua would be doing a communal retreat.  This same creativity was evident when he envisioned transforming one of our four convents into a House of Prayer when he served as Provincial of this religious family, when he served as Rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Guam and as itinerant in several islands in the Pacific, when he renovated the novice quarters which afforded me a dignified ambiance when I joined the Discalced Carmelites, when he dived into writing and preaching, when he shared his thoughts for the monastery for nuns at Santa Margarita, and the time spent as a school teacher (with one of his students now serving in Brussels as a European Commissioner). 

But the hour we are living through is too solemn for us to be lost on such futile matters.  When you reach the bus terminus, you do not give a thought to how many times the wheels of the bus revolved in order to get you there … your thought goes to what you will without waste of time now that you are at your destination.  The answer is simple: jump and swim in the Trinity.

Fr. Pius was a Carmelite and died as a Carmelite, sustained by four hundred and fifty years of tradition.  When the Lord called him during his childhood, he answered without delay, “Here I am! Why do you call me?” and when he discovered – through spiritual direction – that the One who called him was none other than the Father, he answered, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”  Indeed, Fr. Pius “grew and the Lord was with him, and he did not let one word go to waste.”

Now is the hour for us to embody that seed that He has planted in us through His faithful servant.  Edwin Sammut, this “prophet taken from among his brethren, on whose tongue “God placed His Word.”  Fr. Pius announced a “Liturgy of the Word” to his brothers, and whatever “the Lord commands.” “His thought only in the things of the Lord, that is, how to please the Lord” and “he taught them as one having authority, and not like the scribes” (Readings from yesterday’s Mass).

Eternal rest grant to him, o Lord.  And let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace. Amen.

Fr. Juan De Bono, O.C.D.

Provincial

February 1, 2021

Published by

Joe Farrugia

Segretarjat għal-Lajċi.