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Sheaf 9

The prophet of Assisi
Abbé Saint Anthony


" The door of the temple looks at the eastern way.
The eastern way is He of whom is written :
There is a man who is called "East".
Listen ! The glory of the Lord comes from the East !
So says the prophet. "

In the land of Assisi one day the Lord spoke in a dream to a poor farmer, who was ill, named Isidoro.
This simple man had received with joy the prophetic word announced by Marcello Ciai in those days, and often visited his house to pray God.
Isidoro, sick, told this dream:

" I met Marcello and asked him:
- But you, where do you come from ? -
A voice said:
- He comes from the smoking East -. "
Isidoro could understand "East" but not "smoking"
and so he would like to have some explanation.

From the East also Abraham came and all those who, born in the light of faith, will persevere in a life of godly power.
But smoking ?  "A smoking firepot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.
On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham." (Genesis 15 : 17/18)
"Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord has descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln." (Exodus 19 : 18)

For a time Marcello's community was called "Smoking East", but changed its name as soon as the Bishop of Assisi said that it sounded of Freemasonry.

Let the sapient understand these things and consider the Words of the Lord:

" I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth,
because you have hidden these things from the wise
and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants."
(Gospel of Matthew 11 : 25)


Then the community took the name of "Centoniani" from the tunics worn by its members, made of pieces of cloth, cutting the best garments they had. These clothes were called "Centoni", because made of  "hundred pieces".
Clothes of "hundred liras", which expressed the clean break with vanity and the comfort of the world.
The variety of colours recalled the phantastic creativity of God.
Marcello though, according to the Lord's commandment, given to him in his first Lenten-period, was wearing white cloths,with tunics made of pieces cut from old sheets.
But the members of the community did again change name and in obedience to the Bishop of Assisi who had thought them to be "odd", they took off their "Centoni".

In the second month of the year 1994 Monsignor Sergio Goretti, bishop of the Diocese of Assisi -
Nocera Umbra - Gualdo Tadino, published an edict.
Here follows the integral transcription of the points of accusation against the community:



A) This group, notwithstanding the  remarkable efforts to bring it back in the bosom of the Church, is heretic.
They believe in fact to have the spirit of the prophet Ezekiel, present above all in the person of Marcello Ciai.
B) It has changed residence and name. Denominated itself "Oriente Fumante" to remember the covenant God had stipulated with Abraham, which the group through the spirit of Ezekiel, intended to restore in its primitive situation. Then they called themselves "Comunitŕ dei Centoniani" for the fact that its members had to wear cloths made of 100 patches or wear sackcloths and go around barefooted to manifest the necessity that the Church has to be purified.  Hence they assumed the name of "Famiglie di Betlemme" and now that of International Association of Christian Activity.
C) The group various times has distinguished itself for public offences against the ecclesial hierarchy and institutions.

                                                              + Sergio  Goretti 


Finally in 2006, this story ends successfully:  the Bishop of Assisi Monsignor Sergio Goretti has revoked the notification of "heresy" and redeemed the "Community Families of Bethlehem" within the Catholic Church.

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Once Marcello, fasting and praying, was retired on the top of Mount Subasio, in a hovel made out of the rocks.
He prayed the Lord, impassioned by the love for Him, that He would give him also that food he longed for so much, the real bread that comes from Heaven. Each morning he went down barefoot, up to a small deconsecrated chapel, dedicated to Abbé Saint Anthony and a few miles away in the valley from the hovel where he was retired. He would like to receive the Holy Communion in that deconsecrated chapel, abandoned by men and uncared-for by the Church. In that simple bare and neglected place, he relived his life with and for the Church. That place was deconsecrated, Marcello was disavowed.

So one morning he prayed the Lord fervently in order to be granted that grace he longed so much for: to receive the Holy Communion.
He prayed for two or three times, but nothing happened.
He then remembered what he has read in the Bible, in the second book of Kings, when the prophet Elisha said to Joas, King of Israel, to open the window towards the East and shoot the arrows with his bow and also to hit them on the ground. Joas did so but for three times only and the prophet shouted at him, because if he had made it for more than three times, the Lord would have allowed him a great and surprising victory.
Therefore Marcello prayed again fervently for another five or six times, although the break of day was being passed and it was almost the seventh hour.
According to what was said by the prophet, the answer was surprising.
In that lost and abandoned place, Marcello saw appear a black cassock at the end of the path that conducted to the chapel. It was an old priest who without talking, entered into the chappel and with the Gregorian rite celebrated the sung Holy Mass. Marcello enjoyed the grace of receiving the Holy Communion and felt a great and indescribable joy. After the Holy Mass was finished, Marcello met and confessed himself with father Beltram, a German priest.
Between the two of them began thus a filial love, so tight that the old priest said to Marcello that he was in "early retirement", because he was considered only good to hoe the vegetable garden. He also confessed that he did not have the authorisation of the bishop to celebrate mass in that small deconsecrated chapel and while smiling he quoted a German proverb that says: "If the servant has not been called, it is better that he does not go to his master."

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