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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



1 - We know, at least for some years, places and dates when Fr. Alberione lived different courses of spiritual exercises, mainly according to the method of St. Ignatius: 1) in Sant’Ignazio of Lanzo Torinese (Turin), July 1909; 2) in the same place, July 1910 and 1911; 3) in the Diocesan Seminary of Alba, in 1912; 4) in the same place, in 1913; 5) in the same place, in 1914; 6) with the Blessed Sacrament Fathers of Turin, in July 1916; 7) in the Diocesan Seminary of Alba, in 1920; 8) in San Mauro Torinese (Turin), from 4 to 10 June 1922; 9) in the Piccola Casa del Cottolengo of Turin, in 1923; 10) in Susa (Turin), in August 1924; 11) in Rome, in 1926. (Cf. G. Barbero, Il Sacerdote Giacomo Alberione, un uomo-un’idea, Rome 1991, 175). (Text)

2 - G. Alberione, Donec formetur Christus in vobis, Appunti di meditazioni ed istruzioni del Primo Maestro, Edizione critica a cura di Andrea Damino ssp, EP 1984. Regarding the dating of this book, we need "to take into consideration also two handwritten notebooks of the Prima Maestra Tecla Merlo, and five notebooks of Maestra Teresa Raballo who, among other things, date back Donec formetur, to at least until 1927" (cf. A. F. da Silva, Testo, struttura e proposta formative del Donec formetur Christus in vobis, Paper presented at the Course of Pauline Spiritual Formation, Rome, 1990, unpublished). (Text)

3 - For a deepening of this work of the Founder, cf. Sara Schena, La meta della Formazione Paolina in "Donec formetur Christus in vobis" di Don Giacomo Alberione, dissertation for lic., Ist. di Spir., PUG, Rome, 1985, and the documentation (unpublished) of the "Corso di Spiritualità secondo Don Giacomo Alberione a partire dall’opera Donec formetur Christus in vobis," Rome, 23-30 September 1990. Of such documentation, we especially note: A. Martini, Donec formetur nell’ambiente formativo paolino; A. F. da Silva, Testo, struttura e proposta formativa del Donec formetur; M. Regina Cesarato, L’espressione di Gal 4,19 chiave di lettura della formazione secondo S. Paolo; A. Colacrai, Gv 14,6 come sfondo del Donec formetur; T. Pérez, Valenze antropologiche e filosofiche della formazione spirituale paolina. As regards this theme in general, cf. K. Burski, Donec formetur Christus in vobis: Gal 4,19 come un principio ispiratore per la formazione paolina in Don Giacomo Alberione, dissertation for lic., PUG Ist. di Spir., Rome, 1996. (Text)

4 - It would be very useful to confront this text with a passage located at the start of the reading (DF 15) with the meaningful title of "The key of life":

"1. Life in its essence is: preparation for eternity; free preparation, neglected by many; supernatural preparation. We prepare our eternity: "ibit homo in domum aeternitatis suae.


2. Of the mind, Paradise being vision; of the will, paradise being confirmation in the highest good, God; of the heart paradise being joy; of the body destined for resurrection and to the glorious gifts and the satisfaction of the desires of the just.

3. The preparation of the mind is done with faith; the preparation of the will is done by observing the Commandments and in general with doing the Divine Will; the preparation of the heart, with grace and increase of it; preparation of the body, by keeping it subject to reason and faith, and to mortify it as regards what is illicit."

(As shown in this paragraph and for the title itself, Fr. Alberione is indebted to the well known work of Can. Chiesa. Cf. F. Chiesa, La chiave della vita, Alba-Rome, Pia Società S. Paolo, 1927). (Text)

5 - Cf DF 43: 1. Life is a trial. This is a fundamental and directive concept. Paradise is supernatural state, and at the same time mercy of God or our prize (or salary)... 2. Most brief trial. Face to face with eternity, life is but a moment... 3. Only and irreparable trial. One lives and dies but once... Develop an exact concept of life: do not be toyed by youthful fantasy, nor by the lying world, nor by the impression of things sensible: but be guided only by reason and by faith... (Text)

6 - Very sharply, Fr. Giovanni Roatta, in his study on Jesus Master, underlines that magisterium is born in the sphere of human development that is why the Master could be defined as "the mold of human development": cf. G. Roatta, Gesù Maestro, Edizioni Paoline, Alba 1955, 11ff. – Previously, Can. Francesco Chiesa had demonstrated that the "characteristic property of the magisterium of Christ" is the charity, or love of Christ God-man: "Christus est vera, concreta et perennis personificatio charitatis Dei erga homines, et perfectum exemplar amoris hominis erga Deum et proximum" (Cf. F. Chiesa, Lectiones theologiae dogmaticae recentiori mentalitati accomodatae, vol. I, Tractatus de constitutione theologicae mentalitatis, MCMXXXII, Appendix I, 749ff). (Text)

7 - Cf. Presentazione, in C. T. Dragone, "Maestro Via Verità e Vita, 1961, vol. I, 5-6. But already in the manuscript Quaderni (prior to 1913), which contain personal researches and especially meditations given to the young men of the Seminary of Alba, one could gather how Fr. Alberione, formator of clerics, refers to the Divine Master within the traditional devotions regarding the person of Jesus (Sacred Heart and the Eucharist). From the analysis of these few references emerge some data already meaningful for the development with which the experience and spiritual direction of our Founder would find expression: "Jesus is the Divine Master, the good Master, the great Master, the only Master of all, the Master pointed out to us by God, the universal Master, our Master, Master by nature. He is uncreated and eternal wisdom, he who teaches by example and communicates medicinal grace to the weak will. He is the living master who teaches us from the Tabernacle by his examples of highest virtue. He is the first educator who purifies and sanctifies with the fire of Pentecost the innate virtues of the apostles. The Divine Master traces the mission of the priest apostle. He is Teacher from the crib of Bethlehem, eternal wisdom who teaches poverty. The first Educator is Master who respects the freedom of man: he does not save ‘by obligation.’ He is Master by nature insofar as he is uncreated wisdom. The object of his teaching is eternal salvation: how to obtain it and what to do to lead others to it." (Text)

8 - The post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata repeatedly goes back to the theme of "conformation" with Christ. In no. 16, such an attitude is presented as ‘conformative’ adhesion and ‘conformative’ identification with. (Text)

9 - In an important writing of 1949, Fr. Alberione would present conformation as a "given" for the Pauline at the moment of final judgment: "When the soul shall be presented before Jesus Judge, he shall see in it another Himself: "conformes fieri imagini Filii sui"; He shall present it to God who shall see the likeness with the August Trinity, a likeness re-established by Jesus Himself. He shall be pleased and the soul shall sing forever: Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto" (Introduzione, in S. Lamera, Gesù Maestro Via, Verità e Vita, Appunti, E. P., Alba 1949). (Text)

10 - Let us remember that this is one aspect given great importance by the papers and reflections during the recent International Seminar on Pauline Integral Formation oriented for the mission (Ariccia, October 12-23, 1994). Read especially the papers of Fr. Renato Perino, Fr. Silvio Sassi and Fr. Santiago M. Gonzalez Silva CMF, and the final Document of the General Government in: Pauline formation for mission, Society of St. Paul, April 1995. (Text)

11 - For example: "He who prays daily shall obtain the grace of praying well; he who prays attests at knowing the need for God and trust for obtaining: for as long as we remain holily obstinate in asking, we demonstrate having faith, hope, charity..." (SP 20/8/1937; cf. CISP 100ff). (Text)

12 - Such references would be widely developed, as is known, in a separate book: Sac. G. Alberione, PSSP., Apostolato Stampa, Alba, Pia Società S. Paolo, [1933]. (Text)

13 - Let us recall the specific traits with which, in the well known text of Abundantes divitiae gratiae suae, with which Alberione delineates the Apostle Paul and in him, sees the disciple par excellance of the Divine Master: "But if then one goes on to study St. Paul, he finds the disciple who knows the Divine Master in His entirety. St. Paul lived the whole Christ; he probed the profound mysteries of His doctrine, of His heart, of His sanctity, of His humanity and divinity. He saw Him as the doctor, the host, the priest; he presents to us the whole Christ as He had already defined Himself: Way, Truth and Life..." (AD 159). (Text)

14 - "Vita purgativa, vita illuminativa et vita unitiva intendunt trinum gradum moralis conformitatis supernaturalis cum Deo unitrino. Purgatio enim intendit puritatem, illuminatio intendit veritatis cognitionem, unio intendit majorem charitatem et unionem. – Atqui, puritas refertur ad Patrem, qui non solum est purissimus ac simplicissimus Spiritus, sed etiam in nulla specie sensibili unquam hominibus apparuit; veritas refertur ad Filium; charitas refertur ad Spiritum Sanctum. – Ergo examplarismus etiam in trina vita praedicta elucet." (Cf. E. Dubois, De exemplarismo Divino, vol. IV, part II, lib. II, art. II, p. 471, quoted in A. F. Da Silva, Il cammino degli esercizi spirituali nel pensiero di Don G. Alberione, Ariccia 1981, p. 79). (Text)

15 - Although there is a more founded approach to the thought of the Founder, it is necessary that we remain with the classification of the "three ways" followed by him. The current "culture" would probably prefer other expressions: Fr. Stefano de Flores – item Itinerario spirituale, in Nuovo Dizionario di spiritualità, San Paolo 1994, 787ff – proposes the following three moments: 1) Christian initiation, 2) Spiritual maturation, 3) Mystical unification. (Text)

16 - "Domine Jesu, noverim me, noverim Te. Nec aliquid cupiam nisi Te" [Lord Jesus, that I may know me, that I may know you. That I may desire nothing but you]. "Haec est vita aeterna, ut cognoscant te et quem misisti" [Eternal life is this: to know you and him whom you have sent]. (Text)

17 - The insistence with which the founder returned on the duty of developing the faculty of intelligence precisely as response to the different manifestations of Jesus-Truth is well known. In this regard, let us recall that he dedicated the articles of San Paolo from Sept. 1954 to May 1955 to the theme, "Amerai il Signore con tutta la mente" (Love the Lord with all your mind), with the purpose of bringing the person to the maximum and supernatural growth in Christ Master, starting from the submission of the mind. "The human persons derives his nobility especially because of his intelligence; because of this, he is the image and likeness of God. The principal homage to God is done by bending one’s mind: "with bent knees of the mind": and by making a wise use of it for knowing God and things for the service of God" (SP. Sett. 1954; cf. CISP 1124). (Text)

18 - "Mind" of Christ Jesus which now we possess, according to the word of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 2:16: "But we have the mind of Christ"). (Text)

19 - As regards these words which the Founder received in a "dream" as response and "reassurance" on the part of the Divine Master, cf. AD 150-158. (Text)

20 - For this image of the examination of conscience comparable to the timepiece, Fr. Alberione probably draws inspiration from a passage of Filotea of St. Francis de Sales (second part, chapters I-IX, part five, chap. I). (Text)


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

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