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Br. Mario Iori (1912-2011)

25/01/2011: Italy

On 5th January, during evening prayer, the candle burned for the last time before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. A high, luminous, living flame with the gift of transmitting joy. But the wick was almost completely consumed and there remained only a flat candle base with a cross in the centre. To throw out what was left of this candle was painful, for it had accompanied our Masses, our chants, our Vespers. We were experiencing the death of a companion, a silent friend. It was a large candle, of a light blue and as if flared at the base. It stood tall and proud on a little white plate, in a corner of the altar. It was lit at every Mass. It gave a beautiful flame, quiet, golden, sometimes trembling to tell its story. Faithful companion of the community and of the Lord, it gave us light for months, spending itself daily, mute but joyful, mute but luminous. Every day it gave a little more of itself, its flame growing but itself diminishing. Yesterday evening, during the time of adoration, its flame shone for the last time. Then it died, this too generous friend, so like so many Brothers who, after having given whole lives, end up by reaching the end of their wick. These lines are written with reference to news of the death of Brother Mario Iori, but they are applicable to all those Brothers who die at an advanced age after spending their last years in the houses for elderly Brothers.The death notice of Br. Mario Iori, a Brother born quite close to Rome, related that he had been very active all his life: a Marist teacher, above all, but knowing how to transform his classes into committees for editing and publishing books, choirs for producing records, young apostles taking initiatives for the missions. His head was a volcano of ideas. He wrote a book which won a literary prize, The History of a bench, a book which many children in Italy have read in school. His last achievement was at once gigantic and generous. A little before his death, he published Armonie Mariane (Harmonies for the Virgin Mary), on the model of Dante’s Divine Comedy and, like the latter, over 13,000 verses long. The sale was intended to collect money for orphans. Like the candle, he burned every day, the fire in him becoming more and more light. His last flame, the 13,000 verses of Armonie Mariane, tells of his profound love for the Virgin Mary and his care for children whom life had not spoiled.Mario Iori is one of those innumerable Brothers who spend their lives in self giving, making children smile, unravelling the problems of adolescents, accompanying step by step young people setting out on life’s journey, restoring hope to sometimes despairing parents, or simply remaining faithful to their confrères, sowing joy in community life. God alone can keep a Brother’s life in mind and know all he has sown, the light he emitted, the persons near or far he met. God alone can welcome a Brother who dies in the great family of the saints. The candle burns every day, right to the end. A true Brother emits a light every day, right to the end, and even beyond death. God alone can keep in memory the life of a Brother.

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