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Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen 

Father Gabriel was one of the brilliant, holy men of his time who promoted the spiritual life in the Church. He lectured extensively, in addition to his teaching, writing and work with young people. Never idle, he worked ceaselessly for the good of souls and for the Church.

Most photos of  show a placid, spectacled man who may have preferred to remain hidden from the eyes of the world. However, one picture reveals more – a warmth, integrity, kindness, depth. Most likely a mystic himself, he deeply studied the writings of the venerated Carmelite mystics, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, as well as St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Teresa Margaret. For the last decade of his life, Fr. Gabriel was the spiritual director for the Discalced Carmelite nuns of the Monastery of St. Joseph in Rome. It was with their assistance that he compiled his writings and mystical insight, arranging his material to correspond with the liturgical year, while following the ascent of the soul to transforming union with God. This work he titled Divine Intimacy.

Adrian de Vos was born in Belgium in 1893, the second son in the family. His father died when he was but one year old, but his mother remarried happily, the step-father ever a supportive and true father figure in his life. Growing up, Adrian showed himself to be an intelligent, expansive, thoughtful, affectionate boy. From his earliest childhood, he admired the Carmelite nuns who lived nearby his home. Through their example, he acquired a deep attraction to the interior life and soon realized his vocation was to Carmel and to the priesthood. He entered in 1910 the Discalced Carmelites in Flanders, where he received his religious name, Brother Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen.  He was a contemporary with other great authors such as Father Garrigou-Lagrange and Father Juan Gonzalez Arintero

The sudden disaster of the Great War interrupted his studies, and he and 9 other seminary students were called to do military duty caring for the wounded in hospitals in France, at Auvours. Brother Gabriel was the true spiritual leader of this group, providing a daily routine for their spiritual, intellectual and physical welfare. He himself was twice wounded in his military service, when under heavy shelling he went to the aid of the many wounded. Following the war and his ordination, he was appointed by superiors to teaching. He was professor of philosophy, but also continued his studies at Louvain and in Rome at the Angelicum. He collaborated to organize Young Christian Workers in Belgium, and later helped to establish the International College of the Carmelite Order in Rome, made Vice-rector and Master of students. In the end, he exhausted himself with his work, not resting even when he caught a case of influenza. But at last his exhaustion sent him to the sickbed, and he died peacefully – and all alone – a few days later, on Sunday, March 15, 1953.

 

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