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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


5.3. 3rd Stage: "In sanctification"
theology of the Holy Spirit – unitive way)

The third stage, the theology of the Holy Spirit, marks the logical – and theological – crowning of the process of conformation. The work of the Holy Spirit, Fr. Alberione remembers along the lines of common theology, brings to the full development of the life of grace in the faithful, corroborates him who has taken the path and signals the weakness of forces, gives continuity to good initiatives undertaken.

Let us note, in the following quote, the synthetic vision of the work the Holy Spirit develops in the believer-Pauline.

1. Who is the Holy Spirit: He is truly God: not just an attribute or quality. The Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity. Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

2. What works are attributed to the Holy Spirit:

3. How to dispose ourselves for the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit is "truly" God, the third Person of the Most Holy Trinity.

Among the works attributed to Him are:

All this has an explicit objective: "sanctification." To lead persons to the perfection of charity, to sanctification, for us to Christification, remains to be the primary concern of the Holy Spirit given us by the Father precisely for this purpose.

On his part, the faithful, the Pauline, is invited to form the optimal dispositions so that the Holy Spirit may work with full effectiveness:

For obvious reasons, it is not just possible for us to focus our attention on the individual aspects of the action of the Holy Spirit although the theme calls for it.

Let us limit ourselves to go thorough, in rapid succession, the more significant steps through which Fr. Alberione traces the marvelous initiative of the Third Person of the Trinity in view of conformation with the Master. Let us also emphasize, with admiration, how sensitive our Founder was, even during the 30s, to the marvels performed by the living breathe of the Spirit in the believer and through him!

a) If the sanctifying presence of the Spirit is necessary for every baptized person, more so it is for the religious, who has a specific "obligation" to aim at sanctification.

Duties of the religious. — The religious is bound sub gravi to attend to perfection. All are invited to it: the religious is obliged to it: a) by virtue of the profession; b) because the whole religious state stands on this and this becomes then the duty of the state of life (just as the education of children is for the father); c) for all the reasons that urge the priest and the layman and for even greater strength.

a) The religious who neglects all the means sins seriously; b) the Superiors are held sub gravi to warn, to let the Spiritual Exercises be done, to take care of confessions, etc.; c) blessed is he who, embracing the occupation or profession of perfection, does not have other worries but this: "I want to become a saint." He is like a sculptor who wants to be at his best in his art [DF 240f].

Fr. Alberione then stays at length in illustrating the "general means of sanctification" of the religious: the observance of the vows, common life, the particular rules. As for these last: "Habitual faithfulness makes them sweet, meritorious and raises life to a higher level" (DF 249).

b) To understand the role of the Holy Spirit, it is useful to consider the reality of "human-divine life". It is a "creation" of the Spirit, realized in the same Jesus, our Master, and in us, through the Sacraments. Our commitment: respect such life, develop it, and pray that we may have the indispensable divine aids.

Life given by the Holy Spirit. — a) The human-divine life of Jesus Christ. b) this has been created by the Holy Spirit: in Jesus Christ: "Spiritus Sanctus superveniet... ductus a Spiritu... Descendit Spiritus"; in us: in Baptism, second life: "renatus ex aqua et Spiritu Sancto..."; in Confirmation; in the Eucharist, etc. c) Respect this human-divine life. Develop it. Pray [DF 173].

c) The Spirit makes us fully aware of taking part in the only Church of Jesus Christ, his mystical Body, unified precisely by the only Spirit. An argument ever relevant because of our charism: "live Jesus Christ and serve the Church."

The Church is the society instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ, of those who profess the faith and observe the law and make use of the Most Sacred Sacrament to reach heaven under the government and the magisterium of the Pastors, especially of the Supreme Pontiff...

Our duties are: a) faith in her doctrines; b) obedience to her laws; c) love those whom she loves and are concerned about.

One cannot have God as Father if he does not have the Church as mother [DF 174f].

d) A qualified expression of docility to the action of the Spirit in us is our qualification for the theologal life, through the virtues of faith, hope and charity.

Faith. — Is the foundation of every justification; the positive foundation of every virtue; the principle of Christian life; the gate to the sacraments...

a) Faith could become even more alive with prayer and with repeated acts; b) we need to protect it from dangers like dubious readings, suspect conversations, etc.; c) avoid sins opposed to it, which are credulousness and infidelity [DF 181f].

Hope. — Hope is a supernatural virtue infused by God in our soul through which we hope for Heaven and the means to achieve it...

a) we must keep it as the most gentle comfort and the strongest support in life; b) ask for it with persistence because it is theologal and supernatural; c) avoid sins opposed to it, which are presumption and despair [DF 183f].

Love. — 1. Love is the third theologal virtue; infused in our soul by God. It forms two flames: one directed towards God, love of God; the other, addressed towards neighbor: love of neighbor. It is benevolence, that is, to want what is good. Hence it is: enjoyment of good which God and neighbor already posses; it is the desire for what they do not yet posses.

There are for now three virtues: faith, hope and love: the greatest is love. Love alone is eternal and heaven is the loving enjoyment of the object achieved. Necessary, so that every work may have merit; furthermore, love itself is the tendency towards the last end. Then one cannot love God if he does not love his neighbor who is God’s image. God shall measure with such merit or demerit at the final judgment. For him who is called to a special vocation, it is also a specific obligation.

a) Love is asked from the Lord; b) It is exercised in the fervor of Communion, Visit, Mass in works of mercy, either spiritual or corporal; c) Its flame becomes even stronger by flight from venial sin and delicateness of conscience [DF 186ff].

We cannot but underline the great relief Fr. Alberione gives to the theologal virtues. They characterize the baptized person: it is important that the Pauline embraces them with all the awareness that comports his responsibility as someone called to the conformation with the Master in the specific mission! For this particular aspect, notice the severe reminder of the Founder when he affirms the "necessity" of love in the apostolic sense: "For him who is called to a special vocation it is also a specific obligation."

e) If the Spirit proposes to apply to the believer the grace "in sanctification," one can understand the space given by Fr. Alberione to the means of grace.

The Sacraments: they are "sensible signs... which signify and confer grace." They "are born on Calvary, and work through the Holy Spirit." "Among the means of sanctification, they occupy the first place..." (DF 189ff).

The Holy Mass is "the center and principal act of worship"; it is "the center and the principal practice of piety". "Many are the methods for assisting in it...": and here Fr. Alberione suggests that which "honors" Jesus Truth (from the beginning to the Gospel), Jesus Way (from the Gospel to the Our Father), Jesus Life (from the Our Father to the end of the Mass) (DF 198ff).

Communion "effects the adhesion to Jesus Christ with the mind, heart, and will". A careful preparation is necessary; it "concerns the mind which... means acts of faith and desires of faith": "concerns the will which detests every evil, imperfection, bad habit and makes acts of desires and resolutions of virtue"; "concerns the heart which wants to be healed and sanctified" (DF 195ff).

Confession "is the great means of perfection"; "it is the special channel of sanctifying grace"; it is "the divine approval on daily work in the great undertaking of ascending to God" (DF 192ff).

The Visit to the most Holy Sacrament "is to honor the Eucharist as throne of grace besides Mass and Communion. It is the antechamber of heaven; it is the sigh and the preparation for the Heavenly Vision. It is grace, it is light, it is comfort" (DF 201). Of great importance are the next numbers (204-206), wherein we find drawn, with terms which remain practically unchanged till now, the practical pointers for living the Eucharistic Visit according to the method which "honors Jesus Master Truth, Way and Life."

Prayer, in its various forms (mental, vocal, vital, habitual) "is infallible as regards effects in view of spiritual graces..." "Requires three conditions: humility, perseverance, confidence." "Best is the habitual state of prayer" (DF 207ff).

Virtue "is the perfection of the will which tends to incline towards good because of long repetition of acts." In fact, "the perfection of the will is important as regards perfection of the intelligence" (DF 213ff).

Along the negative line, flight from occasions is never recommended enough, or the rejection of "what shows a danger of sin: person, thing, act, reading, bad habit, etc. (DF 215ff).

The spiritual Director is "the visible angel who guides the soul in the journey for perfection." To the Director, one must "open his conscience"; towards him, one must act with "docility like Paul to Ananias, especially in the most delicate points, in the choice and orientation in life" (DF 210ff).

f) Finally, here, in a summarized vision, the detailed list of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit poured on the person, in the Pauline docilely open to his love:

1. In us

2. In neighbor

3. We in relation with outside

In brief:

Of greatest significance are the words which the Founder leaves us as "conclusion" at the end of the volume, as regards the role of the Holy Spirit:

"Everything is accomplished in the Holy Spirit: since like the life of Jesus Christ, so is the life of the Church, the supernatural life of souls is communicated, developed, perfected, consumed in the Holy Spirit. Hence our efforts are double, that Jesus Christ be formed in us: Cooperation with special resolutions, and prayer with an abundance of practices" (DF 267).

The Pauline and his Master-Lord


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

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