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JESUS MASTER:
A SPIRITUALITY FOR THE MISSION

Orientations by Fr. Alberione to the Daughters of St. Paul

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

by Caterina Antonietta Martini fsp

 

PREMISE

My duty is to report on how Fr. Alberione transmitted the "devotion to Jesus Master" to the FSP and how he helped them to live it. The subject of research is vast and unfortunately also approximate inasmuch as the systematization of the sources has not been completed;(1) hence my paper is simply a beginning of a work which shall have to be brought to a greater depth and completion. According to the theme of the Seminar, I limited my research to the title "Master". I shall mention in passing what Fr. Alberione told the FSP on the method "Way, Truth and Life," but I shall take into consideration the trinomial when it is closely linked with the person of the Master.

Regarding the topic we now discuss, the Alberione material the FSP have available, is at different levels:

My research has been limited to: circular letters, handwritten notes from 1923-28, typewritten meditations from 1929-1932 and those printed: a total of about 500 meditations; the different editions of the Constitutions. As for the letters, I limited myself to the letters to Maestra Tecla and to a few others.

It was not always easy to identify the recipients, because at times the meditations were given to the entire Family – SSP, FSP, PD – gathered together for prayer. This is true above all for the years 1923-1933 (handwritten and typewritten notes); 1952-1955, when Fr. Alberione preached was held in the Crypt of the Regina Apostolorum sanctuary. Being a common patrimony of which the Daughters have taken over the printing and from which they have drawn abundantly, I did not consider it opportune to make distinctions. (return to summary)

1. Sources

A serious discussion would, furthermore, require the identification of the sources from which Fr. Alberione, in his oral teaching, also has drawn when he spoke of the Master. In his preaching to the Daughters, we find very few names because he almost never quotes an author directly, and yet there exists an underlying cultural background. Among the names mentioned with reference to Christology, the following emerge: St. Augustine, St. Thomas, St. Alphonsus, Berulle, Beaudenom, Pincelli, Marmion,(2) and as forth. Often, we find complacent reference to St. Ignatius because he considers Christ in his globality,(3) to St. Julian Eymard who presents the Eucharist as the teaching chair from where the Master teachers. Certainly, the teaching of Can. Chiesa, inspirer and first formator of the Pauline Family, is understood precisely on the theme of the Divine Master.

The study of the sources is so vast that it goes beyond the limits of this paper. On the other hand, it has been studied carefully in depth by Fr. Antonio da Silva.(4) But also, the communication to the FSP cannot be understood in its proper value without taking into consideration the ground that nurtured it. It would also be enlightening to go to the editorial publications that Fr. Alberione promoted, especially during the years between the two world wars. In a certain manner, those publications contain numerous points of enlightenment regarding our spirituality, inasmuch as they reflect the spiritual tendencies of the Founder. (return to summary)

2. Meaning of some terms

In his sermons and also in the Constitutions the terms which characterize the relationship with the Master often recur: cult, "devozione" or "divozione," (5) spirituality. How should one understand them? I refer to a study of Fr. Ch. A. Bernard,(6) whose theological definitions seem very close to the mentality of Fr. Alberione. The scholar describes the meaning of the three terms:

Cult: it means the liturgical relationship of the believer with the mystery of Christ which is celebrated, Christ "considered as proximate object of prayer and of adoration";

Devotion or divotion: from the Latin "devotion," refers to "votum" and it means the personal dedication to another person. It does not refer only to the liturgical celebration, but to the interior attitude of the person and the different spiritual practices which are parts of popular devotion, "whose origin goes back often to the experience of great mystics." (7)

Spirituality: manifests the most profound aspect of devotion. It means that the object of a devotion can be considered within a project of spiritual life which tends towards the fullness of faith personally lived. "Let us then call spirituality the form taken up by Christian life inasmuch as it refers not to the worship and external practices, but to the interior dynamism of knowledge and adherence which tend to the fullness of personal life." (8)

The content of these three terms which give breadth and depth to the relationship with the Master is present in the Alberione vision. Accent, however, goes more to the aspect that involves the whole person and is transformed into a spiritual life project, that is, on devotion and spirituality. (return to summary)

3. Outline

My paper follows an outline that develops along with a chronological reading of the available material. I divided the result of my research into four parts that seem to lead to a certain synthesis:

1. Jesus Master in the oral teaching and writing of Fr. Alberione to the FSP.

2. Jesus Master in the Rule of Life

3. Jesus Master source of a specific apostolic spirituality

4. The response to the Alberione prophecy: Jesus Master in the works and in the spiritual life of some members.

At the end, I shall make some consideration on the relevance of the devotion to Jesus Master.

In the exposition some elements, already discussed at length by Fr. Sgarbossa in his paper, recur, but I did not always leave them out, since they can better add light to the spiritual patrimony which is common to us. (return to summary)

Continued: Jesus Master in the oral and written teaching of Fr. Alberione - 1

return to summary

 

           Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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