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The spirituality of the Pauline communicator

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

Document of the General Government
at conclusion of the International Seminar
on "Jesus, the Master"



"The love of Christ impels us" (2 Cor 5:14)

2.1. At the school of the only Master

Regarding the forms of prayer lived in the seminary and introduced in the new foundation, Fr. Alberione explained having kept the usage of consecrating the first week of the month to special devotions, but having modified something: "only conforming them to the particular need, making room for the devotion of St. Paul the Apostle and to the Divine Master. The latter sums every devotion to Jesus Christ..." (AD 180). Hence he made to conform with "the particular (apostolic) need" of the Pauline Family the spirituality brought to maturity in the seminary, and centered on three models: Jesus Master, Mary Queen of Apostles and St. Paul the Apostle (cf. AD 81). And this, because "the world needs Jesus Christ Way Truth and Life, and [Mary] gives him through the apostles and the apostolates" (AD 182).

The devotion to Christ Master in Fr. Alberione presents an evident process of development: it has a stage of preparation which is expressed in first drafts during his seminary formation and the first priestly ministry. It later becomes explicit in the doctrinal and practical motivations. Nonetheless, the title of Jesus "Master" does not explicitly enter into official formulas of Pauline piety, or in whatever other text of the foundation period, until after 1920. The turning point in the specification of the title, of the doctrine and of the devotion happens starting from August 1921, with the entrance of the Pauline communities into their own house, just built, after the frequent transfers from houses of other people.

Likewise, the conjunction between the title Master and the Johannine self-definition "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" was not immediate. From the chronological point of view, it could be located between the autumn of 1923 and the spring of 1924.

At the start of 1924 onwards, the fusion between the Master and the trinomial Way-Truth-Life becomes an acquired reality, and turns into the habitual formula. The culminating point of such an evolution is marked by the dream-vision of Christ wrapped in light who says: "Do not be afraid, I am with you – From here I want to cast light – Be sorry for sins" (cf. AD 151-166).

From 1934, Fr. Alberione also provides a new iconography by giving proper instructions for the making of a painting of Jesus Master Way-Truth-Life, which would be used for the cover of the Gospels and for the images to expose in the Pauline places to substitute the images of the Sacred Heart.

The foundation work of Fr. Alberione, with the formation of the succeeding Institutes, proceeds alongside the deepening of an adequate spirituality for the missionary vocation of Pauline men and women. (index)

2.2. Total submission of his life to Christ

The term "devotion", referred to the specific manner of approaching and interiorizing the figure of Christ Master, is to be understood in its richest meaning, starting from its Latin derivation "devotio": enthusiasm and total devotion to a person admired and loved. It ought not to be understood as "devotionism" or "pious sentimentalism". Fr. Alberione clarifies: "Devotion is consecration, dedication to the Divine Master, Way, Truth and Life, total self-giving of our whole selves, in our physical, moral, intellectual energies, and also in the being from where these energies come. It is to draw everything from the Divine Master, in his light, in his spirit, in his examples and in his grace. To live in him, for him, with him and by him" (HM I, 3, 14).

Devotion is therefore the totality of self-giving of one’s thought, action and prayer; mind, will and heart focused on Christ Master Truth, Way and Life.

The totality of the Pauline vitally encounters the totality of Christ above all during moments of prayer and of profound communion of spirit. The eucharistic adoration, done according the "way, truth and life method," has been proposed since January 1924. In the same manner the veneration of the Gospel (under the form of continuous reading in school classes and of "exposition" in the chapel and in the Pauline places), the "Gospel feasts" in parishes, inasmuch as "the Good Press must be the commentary to the Gospel" (UCBS 15 May 1924; PP 841). The "Days of the Divine Master and of the Good Press" expands later to the "month of the Divine Master." Prayer of "reparation" is intensified against the damages done by the "bad teachers" who "raise their teaching chairs against the Divine Master."

In all these manifestations the inseparable unity between spirituality and apostolic commitment for the Good Press is evident. (index)

2.3. An integral devotion

The title "Christ Master Way-Truth-Life" expresses the "totality" of the person of Christ against whatever unilateralism or particularism.

"In the study of the various spiritualities [...] it appeared clearer and clearer that each has good aspects, but basically there is always Jesus Christ, the Divine Master, of which each considers especially an aspect. [...] 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. Religion consists in this vision: dogma, morals and worship; in this vision is the whole Christ; through this devotion man becomes completely taken up, completely conquered by Jesus Christ. The piety is total and the religious as well as the priest grow thus... unto the fullness and perfect age of Jesus Christ, to the point of putting him in their own place: ‘I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me’ (Gal 2:20). This devotion includes all the devotions to the person of Jesus Christ the Man-God" (AD 159-160). The Christ integral assumes the whole person for a "christification" of mind, heart, will.

The insistence on the "whole Christ" on the part of Fr. Alberione intends to correct the "devotionism" of his time and the fragmentary presentation of the faith. The launching of a proper spirituality and not of a one-sided evangelization lies in living and presenting the integral Christ (dogma, morals, worship) to the totality of the whole person (mind, will, heart). "We have to correct our tendency to divide Christ, to break into pieces what He has united. For a time now, one could notice it among preachers and writers. Man is one although with three distinct faculties: when he functions, all the three faculties are used for doing good, although with the predominance of one or the other faculty. [...] In effect, the whole of Christ has to be brought to man, and to give the whole of man to God through Jesus Christ. Separating dogma, morals and worship, we shall make of man a lame who could not reach salvation, not being entirely marked by Christ" (SP Nov.-Dec. 1954). (index)

2.4. Teaching and witnessing

Furthermore, Christ Master Way-Truth-Life expresses the integrality of his work: "There are those who in Christ Jesus consider the title of Master only or almost exclusively, because of his preaching. This is not enough: Jesus is Master by his exemplary life, by giving first the example and then preached later; Jesus is Master even more because he communicates the life and the grace for understanding his doctrine, for believing his words, for admiring and imitating his ineffable virtues" (UCAS, July 1942, p. 60).

Hence the title "Master" does not express only his role of teaching and the contents of his teaching, but includes also the example of his works which makes him model, and the strength which he communicates so we may understand and imitate him. Master, therefore, is to be understood as he who teaches the truth on God; he who is the model of life according to God; he who offers the concrete aids for understanding God and loving him in deed (cf. AE 189). (index)

2.5. A Trinitarian, Marian, Pauline spirituality

Christ Master Way-Truth-Life leads us to the totality of God: "Let us not stop only with the devotion to the Master, but through him, arrive at glorifying, thanking, pleasing and pleading the Most Holy Trinity" (APD III [22 July 1958] 191). Furthermore: "There is not only Jesus; with him, there is the Father and the Holy Spirit: ‘if one loves me, Jesus says, we shall live in him’ [Jn 14:23]; if there is love for Jesus, the three Divine Persons come to us and thus we come to have the intimate Trinitarian life" (CCP, 23-26 July 1962).

Furthermore, the wholeness of Christ is discovered in close union with Mary, Queen of Apostles, and the apostle St. Paul: "The Pauline Family aspires to live in its entirety the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, in the spirit of St. Paul, under the gaze of the Queen of Apostles. The whole person in Christ, for a total love of God: intellect, will, heart, physical strength. Everything: nature and grace and vocation for the apostolate" (AD 93; 100).

The three "devotions" form the Pauline spirituality, which represents a gift for the whole Church: "The wisdom and the love of God has wanted to entrust to the Pauline Family a precious mission. It is of summary advantage for the Church and humanity: a) Better to know, imitate, pray and preach the only Jesus Master [...]; b) Better to know, love, pray and preach Mary in her specific title "Queen of Apostles" [...]; c) Better to know, imitate, pray and preach St. Paul, the apostle" (UPS II, 243-244).

Such devotions are an essential part of the charismatic legacy which constitutes the "spirit" of our Institution (cf. UPS I, 51).

Hence, in 1960, after having listed all the institutes which form the Pauline Family, the Founder concludes: "Great responsibility! There ought to be one spirit, that one contained in the heart of St. Paul, ‘cor Pauli, cor Christi’; all devotions are the same; and the various ends converge in a common and general end: to give Jesus Christ to the world, in a complete manner, as He defined himself: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’ " (UPS I, 120). (index)

2.6. Spirituality for the specific mission

Christ Master Way-Truth-Life represented by the whole Pauline Family acquires the features of Christ Pastor witnessed to by the Pastorelle Sisters. Also Mary, Queen of the Apostles, is presented by them as Mother of the Good Shepherd and, side by side with St. Paul, there is St. Peter. Such a "different devotion" of the Pastorelle is explained by Fr. Alberione in accordance to their specific mission: "You will tell me: ‘But why do we honor Jesus under the aspect of Shepherd and not of Master like the other Pauline families?’ Reply: ‘Because you ought to be Shepherdesses!’ Jesus is always the same, but you have to be formed for the sake of souls and, like Jesus, know how to give life to the sheep" (PrP I, 7).

Spirituality, meanwhile, has an apostolic functionality which Fr. Alberione explains: "The spirit of the Pauline Family is in the devotion to Jesus Master Way, Truth and Life. And then every Institute of the Pauline Family has an indicated apostolate and the added title indicates the apostolate. Like, for example, the title of Jesus Good Shepherd inasmuch as it indicates the apostolate" (PrP II, 275).

In these words the meaning of "spirituality for the mission" is explained. Fr. Alberione reaffirms this reality by saying: "If only I had found something better, more fit to the times, as piety or as apostolate, I would have introduced it" (UPS I, 52). (index)


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