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A historical-charismatic survey

Acts of the International Seminar
on "Jesus, the Master"
(Ariccia, October 14-24, 1996)

by Eliseo Sgarbossa ssp



161 Cf. Ibid., 871. (Text)

162 G. D. P. H., Donec formetur Christus in vobis, Meditations of Primo Maestro, Alba-1932-Rome, Pia Societą San Paolo. Commented edition by Andrea Damino, Edizioni Paoline 1984. – The frontispiece of the first edition advances some clarifications: 1. The symbol G. D. P. H. (Gloria Deo – Pax Hominibus) indicates that the redaction is not by Fr. Alberione himself, but by a collaborator assigned to stenographically record his lessons and to transcribe them for printing after revision and integration by the Author. Pauline clerics and Daughters of St. Paul collaborated often that way in the redaction of the works of Fr. Alberione. 2. The title is taken from St. Paul as it appears in Galatians 4:19: "Filioli mei, quos iterum parturio, donec formetur Christus in vobis" (My children for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you!) and this in order to indicate the maternal role of the apostle and of the master-formator, if not the final objective of formation: the "Christification" of the disciple. 3. The subtitle "Meditazioni..." was eventually corrected by the same Alberione into "Appunti di meditazioni ed istruzioni del P. Maestro" (Notes for meditation and instruction by the Primo Maestro," modestly defined the contents of those things which in reality were normative lessons not only for the students but also for the master-formators themselves. In fact, it deals with basic principles which are the theological foundation for a spirituality aimed at nourishing both the specific formation and the Pauline apostolate. – In the beginning of the book, after the texts of three prayers in latin ("Anima Christi", "O Via, Vita, Veritas..." and "Domine Jesu, noverim me..."), three citations, they also in latin, give the tone to the preamble and all the treatment: "Vivit in me Christus" [Gal 2:20], "Conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto" [from the Creed] and "Si quis diligit me, ad eum veniemus" [Jn 14:23]. (Text)

163 The basic anthropological principle is thus formulated: "Having come from the hands of God, man must go through a journey of trial which is called life. The Father Himself has sent his Son, Teacher, to show the [the way]..., to become the vehicle of man; thus man shall be at the end judged whether he has been formed after that Son: in his mind, will, and life..." (DF 92). (Text)

164 Along this line, two prayers to the Divine Master, found in the midst of the treatise, are noteworthy: "Master, your life traces for me the way; your doctrine confirms and clears my steps; your grace sustains and supports me in the journey to heaven. You are the perfect Master: you give the example, teach and comfort the disciple following you." More: "O Master, you have the words of eternal life: put yourself in exchange for my mind, my thoughts, O you who illumine every man and you are Truth itself: I do not want to question how you teach, nor judge if not according to your judgments, nor to think if not of You, substantial Truth, given by the Father to me: live in my mind, O Jesus Truth" (cf. DF 101). Already present here the themes of that small "prayed" synthesis which we find in the "Chaplet to Jesus Master," in 1942: a compendium of doctrine ripened till then regarding the "school of Jesus," expressed in terms of spirituality to undertake and to live. (Text)

165 "Done formetur Christ in vobis opens a new perspective to Christ’s mystery. It seems to me that it is precisely from this point and through the Thirties that Fr. Alberione enriched his vision of Jesus Master with a great inner strength, a deepening of the life in the Spirit, of grace and of St. Paul. It seems to me that it generated a qualitative leap in the consideration of the Master and moved on to a true spiritual itinerary in Him, ever perceived as one who lives among us: "Vivit in me Christus"... On this matter perhaps the reading of the resolutions of the Exercises of 1930-1932 could shed some light. All these refer on this: "To let Christ, Way, Truth and Life, be incarnated in me and in others." There is then the "School of Nazareth", but perhaps even more... It seems that there is a profound continuity of growth among the three expressions "Jesus Master" – "Way, Truth and Life" – "That Christ may live in me." They are not three lines, but three generating stages of a true spiritual journey, a unitive growth in Christ Master. When, at the end of the thirties, it was said that edere means to give out [in the sense of the Christmas mystery: ‘edidit nobis Salvatorem’], does it not mean to define the communication of this ‘Christ’ and Trinitarian Life which pervades over the apostle and his entire activity?" (Sr. Antonietta Martini fsp, typewritten notes). – Cf. also Fr. G. Barbero SSP, Contributi per uno studio sulla spiritualitą del sacerdote Giacomo Alberione (1884-1971), E. P. , Rome 1973 and Un uomo... cap. XIV, 841-852. (Text)

166 F. Chiesa, Lectiones Theolgiae Dogmaticae recentiori mentalitati et necessitati accomodatę, in four volumes, of which the first, entitled Tractatus de Constitutione theologicę mentalitatis, 747 page, was printed last in Alba, in 1932. (Text)

167 Fr. Alberione, in AD 195, spoke of that work, evidently agreed upon with the author, as an essay or an attempt to synthesize their theological vision, accomplished after having "consulted numerous tracts" and after taking as model the "Divino esemplarismo" of Dubois. With pleasure mixed with regret, Theologian Alberione enthusiastically remembered on one hand the enthusiasm and on the other, the misunderstanding which welcomed that work on its publication. Twenty years later, some recognized that that "attempt" had produced one of the most original theological works that came out in Italy from 1900 to 1950.(Text)

168 Cf. San Paolo of 1 October and 19 October 1934 (CISP 11-13). (Text)

169 "It is precisely in the Thirties that the Founder, at least as it shows in his preaching to the Daughters of St. Paul, insists so much on the "method" in view of an integral growth of the whole person in Christ, or better still in order to transform our mind, will, heart, mission, while "residing" in Jesus Master from whom he works" (Sr. Antonietta Martini FSP). (Text)

170 In those same years, also numerous Daughters of St. Paul were enrolled in seminary courses, with the addition of lessons on spirituality and the Pauline apostolate in conformity with the vision of Jesus Master Way Truth and Life. A witness of the time remembers that at the beginning of the school year, Fr. Alberione exhorted the students: "Take notes, write down what is explained to you because we will need to print them." And it was thus that the first drafts of books edited and eventually published came about. This was the case, for example, of Apostolato Stampa, published for the first time in 1933 and reprinted for a second in 1944 with the new title, L’Apostolato dell’Edizione. "The Daughters of St. Paul who completed the seminary studies, with the same textbooks in Latin used by the clerics, are very few. The first course, started in 1934 and ended in 1938, initially had twenty sisters. The subjects added were: Apostolate (lessons given by the Primo Maestro), Pedagogy, Catechesis, etc. To the first course, other sisters followed but in smaller groups" (Sr. Luigina Borrano FSP). Regarding the studies of the Daughters of St. Paul, see the mimeographed dossier Gli Studi e la Redazione delle Figlie di San Paolo nel periodo fondazionale (1915-1971), Memoirs and Documents edited by Giovannina Boffa FSP, Segretariato Internazionale Spiritualitą-Carisma, Rome, 1990. (Text)

171 A book that Canon Chiesa, reviewer and apostolic administrator of the bishop-less diocese, approved with the following formula, "Reviewed, not only is printing allowed but is also highly recommended." Alba, 10 June 1933." (Text)

172 Cf. Sac. Alberione SSP, Apostolato Stampa, Alba, Pia Societą S. Paolo [1933], 170. For the "Feast of the Divine Master", see cap. XXVII, 135ff. – Regarding the counterpoised "schools" and "teaching chairs", let it be noted that this was a widespread topic in the Catholic culture of the anti-French restoration during the whole of the 1800s, and it is the updated translation of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s teaching of the "two-standards" or of the "two captains": Jesus Christ and Satan. (Text)

173 Witnesses to this, for example, Fr. Giovanni Ferrero, Fr. Ivo Paolo Pazzaglini and the two brothers Giovanni and Renato Perino. One unpublished manuscript of 1932 contains this exhortation: "We are in the true art, also when it comes to devotion. Certain images contain neither dogma nor morals nor worship..." (Text)

174 In a circular of 19 June 1933, no. 1 of San Paolo, Fr. Alberione affectionately informed all the Pauline men and women spread throughout Italy and in the world, that he did not forget them, on the other hand, he daily presented them to the Divine Master, and in the morning mass and in the evening prayers. He stated: "Every evening at about 9 o’clock, I give you my blessing: welcome it and give it back to me with a "Jesus Master, Way Truth and Life, have mercy on us." Blessing you. Affectionately M(aestro) Alberione" (CISP 9). – He kept this habit until the end of his life. (Text)

175 Fr. Alberione himself, when commissioning the mosaic of the Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia and an altar-piece of a side altar of the Regina Apostolorum Sanctuary in Rome, ordered that the model of Mazzana be followed. – For a concise synthesis of the theology of the Master related to this icon, cf. the booklet of A. M. Cutrupi FSP, La centralitą di G. M. Via Veritą e Vita, 20-21. (Text)

176 The large canvas (3.30 x 5.70 meters) was placed as altar-piece of the major altar until 1945 when it was substituted by a marble group sculpture of the "glory" of St. Paul. Today, the painting is kept in the sacristy of the same Church. (Text)

177 "The secret of Direction is none other than that of directing: that is a mind, a soul, a priestly heart which resolutely journey towards heaven and point the way, and innovate and draw with himself a crowd of souls. A mind well enlightened enlightens like a lamp placed on a high place to shine over those who are in the house of the Father; a heart full of grace penetrates all and ferments hearts like the yeast in the Gospel mixed with a mass of flour; a life entirely of God, ardent, brings to reality the wish-command of the Master, and shines before men who see the good works and glorify the Heavenly Father... To direct indeed; in the manner of Jesus Christ, entirely, making one’s self Way, Truth, Life! Because this not a method, a philosophy, a moral principle, but it is the method, the philosophy, the moral principle, the Apostolate, the secret, according to man and according to revelation, according to nature and according to grace. We are not flower vendors but gardeners; we are the Alter Christus, not aes sonans; we are the salt, not the seller of salt; we are the light, not reflectors...; we are motors, not payloads... To direct truly the periodical, the classroom, the department... it is the good human-divine secret of the priest... O priest-writers, let us write after the Holy Mass and let us be channels through which the Blood of Christ may pass from his Heart, fill our heart, and for being too full let it overflow to the readers. Let us understand all the desires, longings, spirit, thirst of Christ for men and let us become his ardent voice that calls, that insists, that scolds, that implores in all patience and doctrine. O priest-writer, the fruits depend more on your knees than on your pen! More from your Mass than on techniques! More from your examination of conscience than your knowledge! The lay writer shall produce reflections of light; you must also mark the way, communicate life. Shout, do not stop; but like St. John the Baptizer, like St. Paul, call away from sin, show virtues to all, communicate the strength of example and of the Holy Spirit" (CISP 19-20). (Text)

178 Such an objective justified the great effort that the Congregation was facing, and for which the Founder was asking for patience and involvement on the part of all: "In Rome," he informed, "Maestro Giaccardo already works for these ends; Mother House lives in sacrifice and in hopes; the brothers of the distant houses expand the field of apostolate; ... the Pious Disciples shall vigil in prayer with the Disciples before the Divine Master" (CISP 54). (Text)

179 "Fr. Alberione permanently transferred to Rome in the month of June, 1936. The long circular letter published in San Paolo in July 1936 (cf. CISP 63-65) expresses his motives and establishes the new organization either of the General House in Rome or of the Mother House in Alba, with this last depending on Fr. Giaccardo as "vice superior" (G. Barbero: cf. Un uomo..., op. cit., 515ff). (Text)

180 Fr. Giaccardo, writing in the San Paolo of 15 September 1936, informed: "On October 24, feast of Christ the king, His Excellency the Bishop shall solemnly bless the second church of the Pious Society of St. Paul, the Church of the Divine Master..., praise forever to Jesus "Master of the Apostles" (CISP 70). (Text)

181 "I am a man loaded with debts," Fr. Alberione wrote while asking help for the Church of the Divine Master in Alba. But he promised to pay back: "I have neither gold or silver, but I give what I have: Jesus Christ: Way, Truth, Life" (San Paolo, 1 April 1936; CISP 62-63). (Text)

182 Typewritten original in the Archivio Storico di Casa Generalizia, SSP. (Text)

183 Sac. G. Alberione, Maria Discepola e Maestra (MDM), 1959; II ed. Rome 1987, Ed. Archivio Storico Gen. della F. P., edited by S. De Blasio, 7. – The author took once more a topic dear to him, expressed in the words with which he opened the booklet, Via humanitatis: "Per Maria in Christ et in Ecclesia" (Christmas 1947). (Text)

184 Already during the first years of his priesthood, Fr. Alberione had warmly supported among his confreres the need of "female collaboration" imprinted on Marian devotion. Called to organize pastoral conference, he placed these under the patronage of the "Queen of the Apostles" and, beginning to write and publish, he wanted to "begin with Mary" by dedicating to her the booklet on the history of the small Santuario delle Grazie in Cherasco (Alba 1912). It is true that the most used titles of Mary until 1920 were "Immaculate" and "Mother of Good Counsel", but these were understood with a clear "apostolic meaning" in reference to the doctrinal orthodoxy which had to be defended from the idealogies of the time. The Immaculate was She who in Lourdes had disproved the modern heresies as from Ephesus she had "devastated all the ancient heresies"; she was the "army leader" of the new evangelizers, the inspirer of the new apostles, according to the encyclicals of Leo XIII and St. Pius X (cf. for example, the prayer "O Immaculate Mary"). The same could be said of the title "Mother of Good Counsel," which recalled the image of Mary present in the Cenacle among the Apostles, but not as one praying while waiting for Pentecost, but one who was a counselor and mother of apostolic community, of the missionary Church. The passage to the title of Queen of Apostles took place between 1919 and 1922: starting from an explicit appeal of the young Paulines to the Founder: "The clerics of the diocesan seminary venerate Mary as the Immaculate or as Mother of Good Counsel. And we, under what title?" To this, Fr. Alberione answered, "We shall pray to her as "Queen of Apostles." To confirm this choice, came a systematic catechesis with the help of the new "Prayers" composed for the Paulines (cf. Le preghiere mariane di Don Alberione, published by the Archivio Storico F. P.) and of the new images the Founder himself had commissioned showing Mary in the position of presenting to the world Jesus, the little Master.v (Text)

185 Along this line, the beautiful prayer to Mary "Receive me, O Mother Teacher and Queen..." is most meaningful. It was composed by Fr. Alberione in 1937-1938 for the novices and then assigned it to all the consecrated persons who are always "in formation" and needy of a maternal "recommendation" in order to be admitted to the "school of Jesus" (cf. Le preghere mariane di Don Alberione, Storia e commento, published by the Archivio Storico F. P., Rome 1988, 48-51). (Text)

186 "Every true and complete teacher finds in Mary light, example, protection, comfort. There are precious bonds between Mary and every Christian; but the bonds that lie between Mary and the educator-master are very much superior to common bonds; more so if it concerns a master-formator of religious and priests" (MDM 18). (Text)

187 "What is our Marian mission? It is to make known Mary Queen of Apostles, let her be imitated and prayed to." And he explained, "The first devotion which we find in the Church is the devotion to the Queen of Apostles as we find her in the Cenacle [as counselor, teacher and inspirer]. Such vision is a little bit weakened and obscured by the passing of the centuries. To you belongs the sweet charge of gathering the faithful around Mary Queen of Apostles; to you belongs the task of awakening this devotion; to you belongs the duty of accomplishing this most sweet task of the Church. It means to awaken apostolates, stimulate vocations. Let us go to the sources! At the sources we find Mary Queen of Apostles (Haec Meditare [HM] VIII, 80). In this appeal to the "sources," that is to the role of Mary in the community of the apostolic community, Fr. Alberione was not original: other founders of missionary congregations had preceded him. His originality consists in having identified the heart of the encyclical Adjutricem populi in the words quoted above, establishing it in the framework of the tridimensional vision of Christ in such a way that the triple role of Mary Teacher, Queen and Mother, should correspond to the triple role of the Master Truth, Way and life and constitute the symmetrical female image. Consequently, we have another Alberione peculiarity: that of having expressed in feminine terms the missionary tension of St. Paul by associating woman with the apostolic action of the Church. Like Mary. "Mary [in fact] is the Apostle, the Queen of the Apostles, the model of every apostolate; she is the inspirer of all apostolates and of all apostolic virtues." (Text)

188 Already an old man, Fr. Alberione considered himself still "a half-blind, who is led as he goes along. He is enlightened from time to time so that he can always continue to move ahead..." (AD 202). (Text)

189 Don Alberione intimo, dai suoi appunti personali, E. P., Dec. 1974, 22. (Text)

*Note In the present report there was an "Appendix II", where the various prayers composed by Fr. Alberione were collected, starting from 1922 up to 1955. Many of these prayers, although with changed formulations, can be found in the present The Prayers of the Pauline Family. For this and for reasons of space the above mentioned Appendix II is not being printed in this volume. (Text)

       Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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