Spirituality of St. Louis Guanella

The spirituality of St. Luigi Guanella can be understood as a unique confluence of the spirituality of the “saints of charity” such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Vincent de Paul, and St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), with the spirituality of the “saints of mystical contemplation” represented by St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa of Avila. For Fr. Guanella, a life and spirit of action and contemplation, as symbolized by the sisters St. Martha and St. Mary in the Gospels, served as the foundational cornerstones, which guided and sustained his ministry of charity along with his life of prayer. “Prayer and suffering” were to be the guideposts by which he and his followers actively lived this spirituality, and giving “Bread and the Lord” to those whom he served further exemplifies these ideals of action and contemplation.

Fr. Guanella’s spirituality centered on his serene trust and confidence in the loving providence of God, the Father. He believed that “God is Love” and that he is a loving Father who loves all of His children unconditionally, infinitely, and generously, and who provides and cares for all of His children calling each one to be “the instruments and hands” of His loving Providence, especially to the “least ones.”

St. Luigi’s spirituality was also very Christo-centric, fixed strongly on the person of Jesus Christ in His Sacred Heart. It was in the Heart of Jesus that St. Luigi Guanella saw the “burning furnace of charity” which can enliven all of our souls, and which can inspire our every action in service to the poor and marginalized of society. Fr. Guanella instructed his followers to recognize in the poor and the “least ones” the face of Jesus Christ himself – an ideal similarly taught by St. Teresa of Calcutta both receiving their inspiration from the Gospel verse, “Whatever you do for one of these least brothers (and sisters) of mine you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40).