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in the spirituality according to Fr. Alberione

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

by Guido Gandolfo ssp


5.2.4. From Jesus Life, the gift-commitment of putting on grace

Jesus Christ is life: for the heart, thus it shall follow the need to clothe us with sanctifying and actual grace, especially with the Holy Mass.

The third aspect of the "incarnation" of Christ Master in us is the encounter with Jesus Life.

Jesus Life reaches the heart.

Consequence: the need for us "to clothe us" with grace.

Meanwhile, one understands that in the thought of the Founder the heart is the seat of "sentimentality", as he used to call it, but also the place where the infusion of divine grace happens. Jesus’ breaking through the soul is the most consoling aspect in the dynamics of "incarnation," according to the Pauline exhortation on divine consolation, a gift of the Holy Paraclete which forms apostle-consolers (cf. 2 Cor 1:3-7). Christ Life, working within the inner part of our beings (in our "hearts), brings to reality the conformity to the Lord’s will and sees to it that what He has "pointed out" and "gone through" becomes the practically action in day-to-day life. The entire movement originated and was developed by the gift of grace. Grace which Jesus Life never tires of pouring into the believer-Pauline, in view of conformation with Him.

a) Jesus is presented first of all as the source of supernatural life (DF 144).

Jesus is grace, "plenum gratiae," and he communicates grace in baptism, strengthens it in chrismation, nourishes it in the Eucharist, restores it in confession, purifies it in extreme unction... : "veni et vitam habeant". I am the vine and you are the branches, he who is in me and I in him, bears much fruit. "Sine me nihil potestis facere."

3. Life of Jesus is lost with sin. It has its breath, which is prayer; its nourishment, which is meditation; its illnesses, that is, imperfections and defects; the resources, that is fervor; its own joys, that is consolation; its own moments of languor, that is desolation; the growth in Saints, perfect in Mary Most Holy [DF 145-146].

This is a most successful sketch of the supernatural life that the Divine Master gives us as gift through the sacraments. Such divine life in us comes with clear characteristics. Like natural life, also the "life of Jesus" in us has:

b) This marvelous gift, the grace – in its distinctions: sanctifying, actual, medicinal – has for its author the same Jesus:

Jesus Christ author of grace. Sanctifying grace is that which makes the soul beautiful, daughter of God, friend of Jesus, co-heir of Jesus, heir of Heaven. Actual grace is that which gives value and strength for accomplishing acts of virtue and for fleeing from sin. Sanctifying grace can grow every day, every moment; actual grace is obtained through prayer. (...)

Medicinal grace heals the defects of nature caused by the original sin:

Quoad intellectum, heals ignorance, lack of reflection, forgetfulness, hardness of mind, error, prejudice, perversion.

Quoad sentimentum, heals indifference, bad inclinations, passions, sentiments, affections.

Quoad voluntatem, heals lack of will-power, lightness and inconstancy, laziness, obstinacy, bad habit.

Actual grace adiuvat one to perform deeds above nature... [DF 159.162-163].

Among these effects of grace, the accent Fr. Alberione attributes to the work of medicinal grace is significant. Referring himself to some pages by Can. Chiesa,(35) he pauses on the illnesses of the three principal faculties (intellect, sentiment-heart, will), which are healed by the "medicinal grace." It is known that these reflections have later given life, in the Founder, to most ardent invocations addressed to the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Queen of Pentecost.(36)

c) We need to pause for long and lovingly in contemplation of the Divine Master. He allows that we learn from Him and, at the same time, by associating ourselves with him, he enables us to accomplish what He Himself has accomplished: "He adored...; he thanked...; he satisfied...; asked for graces... He did everything or us and we can do everything in Jesus Christ, and thus give honor worthy of God, thank worthily, ask pardon satisfactorily, ask for graces in the name of Jesus Christ" (DF 148).

d) From here, the secret: everything and always "in Jesus Christ."

a) Do everything: in ipso et cum ipso et per ipsum. b) In Jesus Christ we are strong in asking, we have the right for forgiveness, we worthily honor the Lord; outside Jesus Christ we are ridiculous men and incapable; c) In Him everything acquires supernatural power: but separated from Him, we are the branch separated from the vine [DF 149].

The Pauline, meanwhile, is called to submit himself totally to Christ Master, in order to be and do everything "in ipso et cum ipso et per ipsum." In Christ Jesus "everything acquires supernatural power"; it is for this that work becomes apostolate and the fruits are apostolic and salvific.

e) From it comes the great desire that ought to distinguish us: to want to become saints.

a) Want to become saints, soon saints, great saints in Jesus Christ; b) put up many good works, thus, we become as if so many creatures, or persons, or wheat plants (a vast field) wherein Jesus Christ infuses spirit-grace; c) what could not be in reality is embraced with desire: to be in the heart of all Saints; in the desires of all the angels; in the heart of Jesus Christ himself, who immolates himself on the altars [DF 155].

The decision to want "to be saints, soon saints, great saints" becomes concrete in "many good works." These are the result of human cooperation with grace, life of the soul, which Jesus Life infuses in persons. And where works do not reach, "desire" can: the Pauline must not hesitate to make his own even the desires of the Saints, of the angels, and those of the very heart of Jesus!

f) The means, necessary and ordinary, of grace: prayer, with the due dispositions:

  1. Prayer: "est elevatio mentis in Deo," in general; in particular: "petitio decentium a Deo". (...)
  2. It is necessary in the economy of Providence: so that without special divine help we cannot exercise certain virtues and accomplish certain duties and win over certain passions and to persevere for long in what is good; and on the other hand it is only to him who prays that such help is given.(...)
  3. Prayer must be done: with faith; because it is heard according to the measure of faith; with perseverance, because "oportet semper orare"; with humility, because the humbled publican was sanctified [DF 156-158].

Prayer, presented earlier as the "breath" of spiritual life, becomes the habitual climate, the vital environment and at once "necessary." In it the "incarnation" of the Master is done and in it fruits of grace, apostolic fruits, are borne. In prayer – done "with faith; with perseverance; with humility" – grows and matures until the fulfillment of the itinerary of conformation with the Master.

g) A model of prayer to Christ Jesus our Master

Let us place here this prayer to the Divine Master which, in the text of Donec formetur, is found immediately after the complete framework of the process of incarnation, at the start of the theology of the Son (illuminative way). Its original position in the text is, in fact, indicative because it confirms how "incarnation," goal of the itinerary of conformation with the Divine Master, is rooted in the vital environment of prayer and in it develops and becomes vigorous.

To the Divine Master. — Master: your life draws the path for me; your doctrine confirms and illumines my steps; your grace sustains and supports me in the journey to heaven. You are the perfect Master: you give example, teach and comfort the disciple who follows you.

"Sic Deus dilexit mundum ut Filium suum unigenitum daret, ut omnis qui credit in ipsum non pereat, sed habeat vitam aeternam." "A Deo Magister veniet" (Io. III,22-36).

1. O Master, you have the words of eternal life: with my mind, with my thoughts exchange yourself, O you who enlighten every man and you are the truth: I do not want to argue how You teach, or judge but according to your judgments, or think but You, substantial truth, given by the Father to me: "You live in my mind, O Jesus Truth."

2. Your life is precept, way, the only, true, infallible security. From the Crib, to Nazareth, to Calvary, everything was to draw the divine way: of love to the Father, of infinite purity, of love for souls, for Sacrifice... Let me know that way, let me place every moment my feet on the footsteps of poverty, chastity, obedience: every other way is broad... but it is not yours: Jesus, I ignore and detest every way not marked by You. What you will, I will: establish your will at the place of my will.

3. Exchange my heart with yours: exchange my love for God, my neighbor and myself, with yours. With my sinful human life exchange your divine, most pure, above all nature: "Ego sum vita". Therefore, in order to put you in me, I shall take every care for Holy Communion, the Holy Mass, the Visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament, to the devotion to the Passion. And let this be manifested in works "ita ut vita Christi manifestetur in vobis," just as it happened in St. Paul: "vivit in me Christus." Live in me, O Jesus eternal Life, substantial life [DF 101-103].

Let us pause, right in the atmosphere of prayer, to gather the gems of this prayer:

Master: your life traces the path for me: your doctrine confirms and illumines my steps; your grace sustains and supports me in the journey to heaven.

You are the perfect Master: you give example, teach and comfort the disciples to follow you.

O Master, you have the words of eternal life: I do not want to argue with how You teach...

Your life is precept, way, the only, true, infallible security... Let me every moment place my feet on the footsteps of poverty, chastity, obedience.

Exchange my heart with yours... Therefore, in order to put you in me, I shall take every care for Holy Communion, the Holy Mass, the Visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament, to the devotion to the Passion. And let this be manifested in works...

Practical conclusions

At the end of the dynamics of "incarnation," Fr. Alberione himself summarizes, for the Pauline, the "practical conclusions" with which one has to decisively be engaged.

1. Jesus is truth: the study of the doctrine of Jesus Christ; that is, sanctification of the mind, to love the Lord with all one’s mind (Gospel, religious instruction, thoughts and judgment of Jesus Christ) exclusion of every thing contrary, even if it were simple apprehension...

2. Jesus Christ is way: imitation of the life of Jesus Christ, sanctifying one’s will, that love of God with all one’s will.

3. Jesus Christ is life: highest study of divine grace: Mass, Visit, Communion, habitual union with all one’s heart [DF 171].

a) The assiduous and loving listening to Jesus Truth comports "the study of the doctrine of Jesus Christ." The objective is the "sanctification of the mind," obtained above all through the meditated reading of the Gospels and the hours of "religious instruction," with the purpose of putting on the "thoughts and judgments" of the Divine Master. Along the negative line, the rejection of every contrary attitude, "even if it were simple apprehension..." (= something one "learns", perception).

b) The contemplative gaze on Master Way generates the imitation of all the aspects of the "life" of Jesus. Also here the objective is the sanctification of the will, a goal one arrives at by allowing Jesus Christ to remain in us and to want him in our place.

c) Allowing Jesus Life to "clothe" us with his transforming presence comports reception and maximum development – "the highest study" (DF 171) – of divine grace. The urgency of living intensely the daily moments of encounter with Master Way is further emphasized: "Mass, Visit, Communion." Objective: the "habitual union" with Christ Master, while engaging in it the whole of one’s being, one’s inner self.

In this synthesis, let not another pearl escape us. The red ribbon that binds all the "practical conclusions: is love: "love the Lord with all your mind...; love of God with all one’s will...; habitual union with one’s whole heart." Fr. Alberione had anticipated it: "in such conformation, there is love" (DF 92).

The itinerary of conformation to the Master - 5


Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever   A historical-charismatic survey

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