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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



The abundant reference to Jesus Master, communicated in the preaching, in circular letters, in personal dialogue, fed also by the gift of life (cf. M. Giaccardo, Fr. Federico), is gradually transformed and synthesized in the Rule of Life. I have examined regarding this the various editions of the Constitutions for the Institutes for women:

1. The draft of 1916.

2. The edition of 1929.

3. The edition of 1932.

4. The edition of 1943, Decretum Laudis.

5. The edition of 1953, definitive pontifical approval of the Institute of the FSP.

I have spoken of Institutes for women and not only of the FSP, because in the manuscript of 1916, although the press apostolate was prominent, in a certain way one could find in embryo also the other Pauline institutes for women. The three editions ad experimentum (1929, 1932, 1943) concern also the Pious Disciples, juridically united with the Daughters from 19 March 1929 to 3 April 1947.

I beg to be excused then if I appropriate in my Rules of life what is in large part common. The contribution of everyone, and especially of the Pious Disciples, shall enrich the search from another point of view and we shall thus have a more complete picture. Our aim however is not to define the nature of the normative texts and their recipients, but to see how the devotion to Jesus Master has moved into the Rule of life.

In the manuscript of 1916, only indirect references are found, but not the name Master.(31)

In the 1929 edition, references are already explicit. Therein is said that the Daughters of St. Paul "shall nourish a special affection to Jesus Divine Master" (p. 5); and a "special study of the postulant" shall be "the reading of the life of the Divine Master." He is our example to be inspired as regards prompt obedience (p. 21). To the Divine Master "shall be made every day the hour of adoration and to him shall be dedicated the month of January" (p. 43). We find an indirect reference in the matter of study wherein it is said, that "very special development ought to be given in sacred subjects: dogmatics and morals, the Sacred Scriptures" (p. 46).

The 1932 edition, more juridical in language, adds new elements: The Society FSP, constituted under the title and patronage of St. Paul, "however professes a special cult to Jesus Master" (art. 4). He is looked upon above all for the journey in poverty (cf. art. 55).(32) To him is dedicated "the first Sunday of the month with at least an hour of adoration for the spread of the Gospel through the good press" (art. 124) and the month of June (art. 125). The indication on writing is interesting: "The manner of writing shall be clear and modeled after the example of Jesus Master" (art. 62). In this edition appear the sources from which the FSP have always to draw their writings: teachings of the Church, Sacred Scriptures, Tradition. The so-called propaganda shall favor the spread "of the holy Gospels" (art. 175) and "the devotion to Jesus Master" (cf. art. 182).

The 1943 edition, Decretum laudis, is still a text common with the PD. References to the Divine Master are much more consistent, not only in number but for the vital points touched. Jesus Master:

In presenting to the FSP-PD this new edition, Fr. Alberione insists on the essential values. Among these there is the devotion to the Divine Master: "From here (the Constitutions) you can draw the Pauline spirit which substantially means: to possess the soul, the heart, the mind of St. Paul. The Pauline spirit is very intense interior life; zeal and generous dedication to the apostolate; practical love for the Divine Master and for the Church; constant intimate and serene union with God" (CVV 103).

The 1953 edition is the first text drawn exclusively for the FSP. The elements present in the text of 1943 ad experimentum return, but with explanations, developments and additions which better focused its specificity. Only the new elements were taken up:

From comparison of the texts, three elements emerge and I think it well to underline them:

1) the devotion to Jesus Master is the central axis of the normative texts, especially in the last two editions;

2) the language, not uniform, to express the relationship with Jesus Master, but with strength that is often emotional: "particular affection" (1929); "a special cult" (1932); "particular love" (1943); "a special devotion" (1953);

3) starting from the 1943 Constitutions, the title Master is coupled with Way, Truth and Life.

As soon as the pontifical approval was received, Fr. Alberione does not tire of saying that the most important articles of the Constitutions are those that speak of Jesus Master. Paragraphs 97-100 of AD refer to the Constitutions of the SSP, but the same contents are repeated many times to the FSP. Already in 1948 he insisted: "There are articles in the Constitutions that give the spirit proper to the Institute. In them it is said: Let the whole of piety and interior formation be made up and substantiated in Jesus master, Way, Truth and Life. Let the entire study be undertaken and completed with the knowledge of Jesus Christ Master, Way, Truth and Life. Let the whole apostolate be directed to give to men Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life." (35) And later: "To form life, study, prayer, the apostolate, the religious discipline after Jesus Master is not a beautiful expression, it is not a counsel, it is the substance of the Congregation. It is the being or non being Paulines." (36) (return to summary)

Continued: Jesus Master, source of a "specific" apostolic spirituality

return to summary


           Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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