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JESUS, THE MASTER
YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOR EVER
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"

 

3. CHRIST MASTER,
SPIRITUALITY OF THE PAULINE COMMUNICATOR

"I have become all things to all" (1 Cor 9:22)

3.1. Devotion and style of life

The spirituality centered on Christ Master Way-Truth-Life does not include only the "praying" aspect of the Pauline, but it is a "style of life" which inspires all the aspects of the charism. "The devotion to the Divine Master is not an accessory devotion: it covers the whole of our spiritual life, all our studies, all our apostolate, all our external activities: everything" (Pr 6 [1958], 5). More: "The whole of piety and the interior formation is formed and substantiated in Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life. The whole of our study is accomplished and completed with the knowledge of Jesus Christ Master Way, Truth and Life. The whole of the apostolate is addressed to give to men Jesus Christ Way, Truth and Life" (Vad 575).

Such spirituality must therefore extend to all the aspects of our life, which the founder describes with the image of the "car": "The Congregation is like a car which travels on four wheels: spirit, study, apostolate, poverty. This is the car wherein the Gospel is brought to souls and on which we must stay in order to give this Gospel to souls" (Vad 365). The image of the car motivates a "spirituality for the mission": the car is utilized for "bringing and giving the Gospel to souls" and whose wheels must move on together. Whatever lack of harmony among the "wheels" builds a block which stops us from advancing. Fr. Alberione in this regard observes: "It is relatively easy to attend to and to make one or two parts advance, but it is the whole that must be attended to, just as the four wheels of a car ought to move. Considering this, we need prayer, advice, reflection on how to elect to the office of greater responsibility, that one must be well-balanced" (CISP 169). The well-balanced Pauline, according to Fr. Alberione, harmonizes the "four wheels" in order that the car might move ahead in the path of evangelization. It concerns a missionary equilibrium. (index)

3.2. Apostles with the modern means

The spirituality of Christ Master Way-Truth-Life is fit for the Pauline’s mission because our apostolate is "authentic preaching," our apostolic role is "magisterial" and "teaching". It is "the preaching of the Word of God with technical means, the audiovisual techniques: it is the docete, repeating the teaching of Jesus Christ and of the Church in a manner that it reaches sooner and broader" (UPS I, 152). The identity of the Pauline can be expressed with the term of "apostle": "When are we apostles? When we live Jesus Christ, when we can say: "Vivit vero in me Christus," then we radiate Jesus Christ. We radiate through the words of preaching, we radiate in life through examples, we radiate in prayers with the supplication to the Lord; we radiate in works through the publications, the work for the salvation of souls" (Pr I, 50).

The Pauline apostolate is a "continuation of the work of Jesus Master"; hence it is founded on the "Pauline priesthood": it is an authentic preaching: "By the apostolate of the editions, one understands not merely that complex of initiatives which reject what offends morals and the Christian faith, or that propose some particular ideal of goodness, but one understands it to be a true mission which could be properly defined as preaching of the divine Word through the editions... Like oral preaching, the written or printed one spreads the Word of God; multiplying it in order to let it exactly reach everywhere, also there where the word cannot reach" (AE 12-13).

The Pauline mission, that of proclaiming Christ Master with the modern means of communication, is preaching, which supposes the "Pauline priesthood" and requires the close collaboration of the Disciple, of the sister and of the lay person. The totality of Pauline preaching is composed of "editorial-technical-diffusion", which are brought to reality through the complementarity of the "ministerial priesthood" and of "the priesthood of the laity" employed in communication. (index)

3.3. To receive, gather and give

Preaching can take place when "being sanctified" and "sanctifying" coexist: supernatural life is the foundation of the Pauline mission: "When there is the soul of the apostolate which is the spirit of piety, everything is made clear by the light of Jesus Master: everything is moved by a heart seeking God and souls; everything is sanctified; from everything one gathers merits; one lives in participated joy the religious life" (UPS 1, 22). There is no possibility for misunderstanding; Fr. Alberione clearly reminds the Paulines of all times: "Our primary work is sanctification, then comes the apostolate" (Vad 681).

But holiness immediately leads to the apostolate, just as the love of God leads to love of neighbor:

"A soul is much more active when he prays. More fruits of holiness does he produce when he attends to prayer; his worth is as much as his prayer is worth" (HM II, 2:34).

"The apostle-soul of the good press is he who is first in love with God. [...] In the second place, the apostle-soul is he who loves other persons. [...] In the third place, the apostle-soul is he who, recollected in himself and examining the various apostolate to which he could dedicate himself, chooses that which is called the "Press Apostolate" (MI, 14 July 1932; cf. Vad 946).

In short: "Live of God and give God" (CISP 582). "He who has little faith has little zeal. [...] When one has faith, everything converges on the Gospel, on the apostolate, just like St. Paul, that is mind, will, activity, health" (RSp, 1952, 12). (index)

3.4. To identify one’s life with Christ

Before the Pauline can "teach" souls in the apostolate, he must "go to school" first, to Christ Teacher: in order to be "apostles of communication" we must be disciples of Christ Master Way-Truth-Life. Fr. Alberione summarizes "discipleship" with the process of "Christification": "We need that kind of formation wherein we live of Jesus Christ: donec formetur Christus in vobis (Gal 4:19), and for greater reason when one has to be a pattern for others: forma facta gregis ex animo (1 Pt 5:30)" (DF, 1932, 37).

Drawing inspiration from St. Paul, Fr. Alberione integrates the meaning of the "I live no longer I but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20) with the apostolic zeal of the "I have become all things to all" (1 Cor 9:22). Regarding the Apostle who "in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking" (Col 1:24), Fr. Alberione asks, "What could be lacking from the Passion of Christ? Is his redemption wanting, perhaps? No; on the other hand, it is bountiful and overabundant. What is lacking, instead, is the application; and application is everything for us, for all the two billion and nine hundred million of men! Would that this redemption reaches! Before this problem, everything else falls in the second place: to save ourselves is to save others, this matters" (UPS I, 79). The apostolic mission is the "application" of redemption to all men through communication. "The process of sanctification is a process of Christification: ‘until Christ is formed in you’ (Gal 4:19). Hence we shall be saints according to the measure we live the life of Jesus Christ; or better, according to the measure whereby Christ lives in us. ‘Christianus alter Christus’ and that is what St. Paul says of himself: ‘I live no longer I but Christ lives in me’ (Gal 2:29)" (CISP 11).

The same bond between sanctity and apostolate is therefore a divine lesson of the Master and, at the same time, the way marked for the Pauline, just as Fr. Alberione affirms: "When Jesus says, ‘Magister vester unus est, Christus’ (Mt 23:8), he means that He is not only a teacher, but the true and only Master, the perfect Master; he precedes by example. And this is the path drawn for Paulines" ever disciples of the Master; ever living the Master; ever listening to the Master; ever revealing the Master. With the Master and dependent on the Master, they shall be masters of wisdom, of perfection, of life" (Vad 226). (index)

3.5. Apostolic prayer

Applying the spirituality of Christ Master Way-Truth-Life to practices of piety, Fr. Alberione says: "Our practices of piety abound and all of them are necessary, although in different degrees. They are in proportion to the apostolic activity. They must have a well defined Pauline color because they set us to the Pauline life" (CISP 163).

The attitude of maximum faith, expressed in the prayer "Secret of Success," is meant for the fulfillment of love for God and neighbor in the apostolate. All the practices of piety – meditation on the Word of God, eucharistic celebration, examination of conscience, sacramental life, eucharistic visit, spiritual exercises, first week of the month, rosary, way of the cross, etc. – find their "Pauline color" in the explanations found in The Prayers of the Pauline Family: "The articles of the Constitutions are cold and bare: they need a soul; and this is given by the composition of prayers, invocations, instructions, which are in our Manual of Prayers. Love them, recite them wholeheartedly; little by little the spirit of the Congregation enters the soul," thus Fr. Alberione assures (UPS I, 47). In this vision there is a profound unity between "holiness and apostolate," the authentic "Pauline spirit" is there.

In order to naturally give this life force, also the Manual of Prayers must undergo renewal, with distinction made between historical formulations (to be kept in proper study editions) and those for use, the fruit of eventual updating (done already in the past and desired also today) in a manner like the Church renewed and enriched the liturgical prayers.

All the practices of piety must lead to "the total establishment in Jesus Master Way (will), Truth (mind), and Life (sentiment): more so, to arrive at the highest perfection of our personality: I think in Jesus Christ, I love in Jesus Christ, I will in Jesus Christ; or Christ who thinks in me, who loves in me, who wills in me" (UPS I, 187). It concerns the engagement of all the powers of the soul for a total development of the person, aiming also at "the social integration of self in the apostolate, that is in the magisterium. One tends, therefore, to place one’s self more than ever "in consortio veri Magistri" in order to be completely transformed into him and then communicate the same form more exactly to men" (UPS II, 2).

An important part of the transmission of the charism is preaching which should never be self-enclosed in the concrete Pauline life; on the contrary – just as in formation – it must be involved in the apostolic realities in a manner that it bears the color and breath that comes from our lived experience in the exercise of our specific mission. (index)

3.6. Christocentric formation

Applying the spirituality of Christ Master Way-Truth-Life on the totality of formation, Fr. Alberione synthesizes the path drawn in the book Donec formetur Christus in vobis: "For religious and clerical formation, the direction set by the words of St. Paul is useful: ‘Donec formetur Christus in vobis,’ ‘Vivo ego, iam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus,’ [...] ‘Unus est Magister vester, Christus.’ He is one because he is at once Way, Truth and Life, formation therefore shall be accomplished when his image is reproduced and the elements that make up Jesus Christ shall be reproduced in a manner that one can say, ‘The Pauline is a second Master’. Unifying formation covers the human, religious, clerical, apostolic life in order that one may present himself a perfect man in Christ. The perfect Master shall form perfect men in Christ Jesus. In the Christocentric formation, the Pauline shall himself become, in due proportions, also way, truth and life according to the spirit of the Constitutions; necessary conditions for sanctification and the apostolate" (UPS II, 191).

Thus perfect formation emerges from the "well-balanced fusion of all the elements" (ibid). (index)

3.7. To be adequated to the times

Applying the spirituality of Christ Master Way-Truth-Life on the studies of the Pauline, Fr. Alberione keeps constantly present the apostolic end. "The purpose of our studies, aside from personal upliftment, consists in forming the Pauline religious and priest and apostle after the purpose of following his vocation as described by the second article of the Constitutions. [...] General principle: the whole of formation must be composed and aimed, in a special manner studies, in relation with the apostolate proper to the Pauline Family. Such an end is to be borne in mind from the very time of entrance to our Institute: so much in classrooms, as in advises, meditations, sermons; in such a manner that a generic life is not communicated but a doctrine, a piety and a religious life eminently Pauline" (UPS II, 193).

Fr. Alberione insists: "Studies have their end, even more, a double end: to perfect the gift of nature which is intelligence; and to prepare one’s self to accomplish the mission entrusted by God. One has to teach through the tongue, through paper, film, screen, image, technology, etc. [...] Technology for the Paulines is worth the tongue of the orator and of the teacher" (UPS II, 160).

It is therefore not a matter of just studying "contents," but also of learning the "language of the means of communication" which are used in Pauline preaching. Fr. Alberione specifies this thought of his by warning: "It does not mean that having mediocre knowledge is enough; what is needed is loftier knowledge, to which is added the study of a summary ability to clearly express it to all" (Vad 1063). More: "Our apostolate first requires ordinary knowledge and then the knowledge of the means of communication" (Vad 1287).

It is our characteristic as a "teaching Institute," after the example of Christ Master Way-Truth-Life, that requires from the studies of the Pauline so much wealth of contents as much as the ability to express them with the language of the means of communication. (index)

3.8. Apostolate is love of neighbor in God

Applying the spirituality of Christ Master Way-Truth-Life on the Pauline apostolate, Fr. Alberione knows that he is bringing to reality a new form of "love of neighbor." "In the end, there always is the love for God and love for neighbor, the observance of the two precepts of charity, fundamental precepts of Christianity. But the external manifestation is different" (Vad 34). Hence, "the apostolate becomes act of love. The apostolate which you are exercising is wholly a work of mercy" (ibid. 999). Communication in the apostolate is the modern version of the love of neighbor: in fact, "in the exercise of the apostolate are included, so to say, all the seven spiritual works of mercy" (ibid. 1010).

A profound theological vision is at the origin of the Pauline apostolate: "The Heavenly Father is ab aeterno the Publisher of the Son [...]. The Divine Son, the Publisher of the Gospel. [...] The Holy Spirit is the Author and Publisher of the Sacred Scriptures. [...] Mary is the Publisher of the Word made man. [...] The Church: Publisher and Editor. [...] Let us give homage to St. Paul, the most prolific writer of the New Testament" (ibid., *919). In this framework, the apostle finds in Christ Master Way-Truth-Life his model, starting from the lowering of himself: "Get adjusted: What has Jesus done to save souls? He came on earth, suffered and died. [...] We need to approach them, know how to take them. Do what the Son of God did. He is the Master. He is the Model" (ibid., 344). The dynamics of the "cross" is a fruitful part of the Pauline apostolate.

Furthermore, Christ Master is the content of the Pauline apostolate: "Let us bear in mind the general principle that we ought to give Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life, that is, what he really is: everything. He is the Truth: hence, give clear doctrine; He is the Life: hence give to the world virtues, that is teach the imitation of Christ; He is the Life: and life is drawn from Him, from the Sacraments. [...] Are we careful in truly following what has been said: give doctrine, morals and worship together?" (ibid., 1011). Nonetheless, having established the priority of the Gospel, Fr. Alberione widens the contents of the apostolate: "In the first place, give the doctrine that saves. Permeate the entire human thought and human knowledge with the Gospel. Do not speak only of religion, but of everything speak in a Christian manner" (AD 87).

This point is something that cannot be given up for the effectiveness of our apostolic activity, which – especially as regards contents – has to be bound to the personal capacity to meditate the ways, the truths and the life of Christ Master yesterday, and also today and tomorrow, in the manner they are in when we encounter them in the situations and needs of people.

Pauline apostolate has, for its objective, to achieve in the most effective and up-to-date manner the universal mission entrusted by Christ to the Church: to preach the gospel to every creature. "The press, cinema, radio, television today constitute the most urgent, the fastest and the most effective forms of Catholic apostolate. It may happen that the times reserve for us other better means. But at present it seems that the heart of the apostle cannot desire anything better with which to give God to souls and souls to God. [...] When these means of progress are used in evangelization, they receive a consecration, they are raised to the maximum dignity. The office of the writer, the place of technology, the bookstore become church and pulpit. He who works there is raised to the dignity of the apostle. He who, innocens manibus et mundo corde (Ps 24:4), works there, communicates to the ordinary means a supernatural power which contributes for the enlightenment and the intimate action through the divine breath which accompanies it" (UPS I, 313; 316).

This "apostolic" vision of the mission allows us to never end up in simple activism or in venal commercialism. (index)

3.9. Getting united and organized in view of the various forms of apostolate

The spirituality of Christ Master Way-Truth-Life inspires also poverty in its broadest sense: not only concerning finances and the material means in service to the mission, but also all the energies and resources of the consecrated person: "the tree and all its fruits."

It is a matter of placing under the disposition of God and of the brothers the personal gifts, the values of consecrated life, the material resources, the organizational process, community life. "For many regular clerics, and also for us, community life is born of the apostolate and in view of the apostolate. This character of a society aimed at a purpose also the common good of the members; but at the same time the same observance of the conventual life carries an organization which takes into consideration this "we are at the service of souls": religious-apostles; give what has been acquired: after the example of the Divine Master" (UPS I, 285).

A "society of apostles," it is living body and not a machine (ibid., 284) in the sense of close collaboration and unity: "What does life in common mean? – Fr. Alberione asks further. "It means unity of mind, unity of work, single direction in speaking, unity in sentiments, unity as for the goal. Everyone must contribute in achieving the principal and secondary end: personal sanctification and apostolate" (Vad 540). Obviously Fr. Alberione uses the terminology of the two ends of the time before Vatican II. Turning to ourselves, "the Pauline apostolate requires a strong group of editors, technical persons, diffusers. All must be in agreement just as artists who present a beautiful work are in agreement. How many disconnected, disorganized wills and energies; they are drained in desires, in attempts, in frustrations! It is a must that together everyone prepares the bread of the spirit and of truth" (UPS I, 288).

In such a context, the service of authority has the duty to build a part of the "Mystical Body": "In every religious Congregation and in every Community, we have a family of God. Superiors must be fathers and mothers, and not heads of a business enterprise; subjects are not employees, but children. This principle defines the mutual relationships" (UPS IV, 216). The figure of the Divine Master contributes to this: "... In the Pauline Family, the government is in Christ Master Way, Truth and Life: hence the name "master" dominates, and not superior. The master acts like Jesus who came to serve: administer the truth, lead souls along the paths of God, communicate grace" (Vad 508).

The danger most feared by Fr. Alberione are divisions: "Internal divisions in an Institute lead to the most serious consequences: divisions of minds, of direction, of characters, of doctrine, of work, etc. Divisions destroy the spirit of the Institute at the roots and in life. Union is such an important value that because of it goods and particular points of view must be sacrificed." Hence "charity in obedience and obedience in charity" (UPS IV, 291). (index)

3.10. Jesus Worker: material and spiritual work

After meditating at length on "the great mystery of the toil-filled life of Jesus of Nazareth. A God who redeemed the world with domestic virtues and hard work up to the age of thirty" (AD 127), Fr. Alberione accomplishes a special application of Christ Master when he draws a "theology of work." Referring to the Pauline life, Fr. Alberione states: "The work of the Pauline (Priest and Disciple) has one characteristic: Jesus-Worker produced poor things; St. Paul produced military tents made of goat hair; on the other hand, the Pauline exercises a direct apostolate by giving the truth through work, accomplishing a ministry of preaching, turned into mission and approved by the Church" (UPS I, 457).

Also the continuous tension towards "perfect charity" in the consecrated life is work. Explaining the religious vows, Fr. Alberione writes: "The religious life is the governing and the supernaturalizing of the three concupiscence, placed at the service of God, of holiness and of the apostolate. [...] Through the three vows the religious transforms passion into virtues and into strength for the apostolate; this is the secret of eternal happiness" (Vad 423; 424). (index)

3.11. Following, organization and pastoral style

The following of Christ Master also inspires the need for organization in the Pauline apostolate: "We have to give very great importance to organization. Oh, yes! Be well organized. Organizations have great strength and everyone can be a saint, but alone he is but a twig. If instead of a twig, so many branches are bound together, then there is strength. In our times, alone, one gets swallowed up. We always have to remember: let us become strong through union! This is true for the press as well as for the movies; it is true for all the energies of Catholics" (Vad 1196).

Nonetheless, organization must always be bound to a supernatural vision: "Preoccupation and vigilance shall always be used in order that the apostolate remains in that pastoral height which is in the letters of St. Paul. Love for Jesus Christ and for souls will make us distinguish and separate well what is apostolate from what is industry and commerce. The supreme criterion for judging things is always the spirit, although there remains to be four parts: moral, intellectual, the apostolate and poverty" (CISP 59).

The apostolic organization that inspires after Christ Master Way-Truth-Life cultivates pastorality as its methodology. The recipients of the Pauline mission has an inarguable primacy in the process of evangelization: "Know the souls, how to multiply the good, what organizations are needed. All this is the practical part which for you is the pastoral part. Everything proportionate!" (Vad 1200). More: "Our apostolate is in Jesus Christ. Jesus Master ‘journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God’ (Lk 8:1). His speech was simple, clear, also when he was teaching lofty doctrines. He made his teaching suitable to the needs of every listener. The Gospel notes that He knew what each person was (cf. Jn 2:25). He adjusted himself with fishermen, shepherd, the Galileans, the Jews, the Pharisees, the disciples and his enemies. He wanted that the apostles worked in the same manner" (UPS IV, 140).

The preoccupation of Fr. Alberione to define and infuse a "Pauline spirit," to characterize under one specific "color" all the aspects proper to his charism, all, aims at affirming the inseparable unity between "holiness and apostolate". Such a unity does not accept the absence of one of the two constitutive elements, just as it is not possible to separate love for God from love of neighbor. This preoccupation for "integrality" we find described in a negative form in the continuous warning against the temptation of adopting other forms of spirituality: "Not many books on spirituality, and neither to seek schools of spirituality, inasmuch as spirituality is only one: to live in Jesus Christ Way, Truth and Life" (Vad 596). The spirituality of the Pauline communicator in the teaching of Fr. Alberione is "integral," "total," "well-balanced," "complete" as it emerges from the coupled reading of the Donec formetur Christus in vobis and of Apostolato Stampa. All the accentuation on individual holiness (spiritualism) or on exasperated emphasis on work (activism) are against the example and the teaching of Fr. Alberione, founded on the equilibrium of the missionary spirituality of Christ Master Way-Truth-Life. (index)

 

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