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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

 

I. JESUS MASTER
IN THE ORAL AND WRITTEN TEACHING OF FR. ALBERIONE

3. The meaning of globality through the Way, Truth and Life method

In the Spiritual Exercises of the years 1935-1936 the Founder insists that the devotion to Jesus Master be lived according to the method way, truth and life (ER 52), a method that involves the totality of the human person in his being and in his acting and it helps to bring the totality of the mystery of Christ so it could be lived and proclaimed. The method therefore has to be applied to all the faculties: mind, will and heart, and to all the dimensions of life: to prayer, which has "a special character, which you call Pauline method, which consists in honoring, in each practice, Jesus Master, who is Way, Truth and Life" (ER 131); to the spiritual life, by configuring one’s entire being to Christ and disciplining in this direction all the spiritual work (cf. CVV 61). It ought to be applied to study, to the apostolate of editorial, that is: to write in a way that prayer, theology, the word of God are integrated: "In practice, we need to always give the Truth to believe, the Commandments to follow and then the prayers to be made" (ER 109-110). The method thus always draws the very face of the Institute, which shall be a ray coming from the Master according to the degree wherein the various components of the charism are directed to him and harmoniously measured out: "You are an Institute of supernatural teaching through the Apostolate of the press. Let your institute be complete, that is, representing: Jesus-Truth through teaching, Jesus-Way through the practice of the Religious Virtues and Jesus-Life through prayer. In this manner you shall represent the whole Master." (21) "If you will always maintain your character you will represent the complete Divine Master and hence you shall be complete. To tell people that they believe is not something difficult, but to give at the same time an example of faith and of every virtue, to obtain life for them through prayer, this is an entirely complex and difficult work. However, it has to be accomplished with the grace of the Lord. May the Institute remain what it is; to fragment it in various parts of its program is to take away its strength." (22)

Certainly this insistence on the method, aside from being an expression of the spiritual culture at the start of the century, has a high pedagogical value. In this manner, Fr. Alberione proceeded with the education of the young sisters, often spiritually and apostolically inept, just like all the rest of the members, in prayer, in the apostolate, in study, in the discipline of every area. A further study is necessary for a greater deepening, in order to underline the formative and pedagogical worth of the method itself.(23) (return to summary)

4. The Discipleship: spiritual itinerary as adherence to the Master

Leafing through some letters of Fr. Alberione to Fr. Giaccardo, an order given to all the Roman Pauline Family, struck me and it is contained in the letter of 18 August 1929. In such a letter the title Master is given to God and the relationship with him by Pauline men and women is perceived as a "school of disciples": "It is God, not persons who must be the Master; He is the Master, not just Creator; for this is our vocation! Just as for St. Ignatius [God] was especially considered as creator, hence the Jesuits’ Militia; while for us it is a "school of Disciples, docile in everything, way, truth, life." (24)

The whole of the Pauline spiritual dynamism has its orientation here: to become disciples of the Master. The spiritual life is decidedly delineated as a spiritual itinerary which orients the person in wholeness: mind, will and heart, to become disciple of the Master, until the attainment of a total configuration with him. In this regard, the Esercizi spirituali of 1941 (25) are important. The language used is traditional; reference is made to beginners, the proficient, the perfect, but they reveal the effort of the Founder to make the members grow in Christ according to a precise discipleship. I quote but some passages:

a) "The Heavenly Father, whom the soul-beginner fears and from whom she expects reward, points out to the soul who is the true Master... And the soul turns to Jesus Truth, Way and Life. She loves much the reading of the Gospel, the life of Jesus and desires to make him known and to make him love" (ibid., 82).

b) "The proficient soul no longer savors books, if the name of Jesus is not found there. No conversation attracts her anymore except when Jesus is spoken about. Every religious soul must be a proficient soul. With the Gospel, the Eucharist and the Mass given you, you should have entered the illuminative or the proficient way since the first years of your profession. To walk along this path is to walk behind Jesus and to walk behind Jesus is to walk in his light: ‘In lumine Tuo videbimus Lumen.’ ‘Unus est magister vester’" (ibid). "The proficient souls concentrate on Jesus... Their greater commitment is to be in Christ. And hence they learn how to think like Jesus, to live like Jesus, to feel as Jesus feels... The soul wants Jesus to take possession of her entire being: that he take possession of her mind, of the will and of the heart. Here it is no longer just a matter of avoiding sin, but it is to live of Jesus: it is all an immense work of transformation: ‘Vivit vero in me Christus’" (ibid., 142).

c) "Finally there is a more perfect level that lies in union... The souls that can cross the boundaries of this state are those which have already accomplished three kinds of work: they have purified themselves from their own will, and they no longer want other than that which God wills. They wont the same good only moderately and only in God: if it pleases Him... Let us let the Holy Spirit work in us and that he forms a true spiritual body" (ibid., 142).

The Founder, thus gradually opened to the FSP, horizons of greater interiority wherein Jesus appears as interior Master who through the Spirit attunes the apostle with his sentiments: "The perfection or holiness lies in the full dwelling of the Most Holy Trinity in the soul, in the perfect incorporation in Christ, in the complete effusion of the Holy Spirit" (ibid., 65).

From Maestra Giovannina who, by his assignment, was writing a book on Jesus Master in 1945, after having revised and appreciated the work, he asked to add a "long chapter" on "the devotion to Jesus living in the soul," perhaps drawing inspiration from the work of Beaudenom, Pratica progressiva alla confessione.(26) Also in the spiritual direction, he oriented Maestra Tecla along the line of a peaceful interior life. He wrote in 1948: "Live in Jesus Christ. May Jesus Master be the light for the mind, comfort and intimate joy; may his continuous presence be once more deeply felt; in the soul: he who speaks, he who comforts, he who sanctifies" (LMT 75). The spiritual journey of the apostle is characterized as becoming like the Master, who becomes ever more the true interior agent. Making a chronological jump, I quote the page of a meditation of 15 August 1960 that seems to me meaningful along this line: "There are souls who are invited to soar! This is what I want to say from my heart. There are souls among you who have more invitations to soar, in a more perfect union with God. In an almost fusion of hearts, of will and of mentality with Jesus. Fusion of sentiments. May the sentiments of Jesus be my sentiments; the will of Jesus, my will; the thoughts of Jesus, my thoughts. Even more, it is Jesus who lives in my mind. I lend him my brain to think, but it is He who thinks in me. I lend him my heart in order that He may love with me the Heavenly Father and the souls. I lend him my will, in order that I may want what He wills in me. It is not only that I lend but – if I am docile – it is He who lives in me. He lives in me, He loves in me, He wills in me, He works in me, He does the apostolate in me. You are called to this intimate communication with Jesus. Living tabernacles; sisters who go from house to house and carry, in their hearts – that are tabernacles – Jesus. It is the fulfillment of that prayer to the Divine Master, ‘that my presence be always sanctifying’." (27) (return to summary)

5. Deepening of the Devotion

In 1948, following the request for liturgical approval,(28) the Founder made some meditations to the Daughters, wherein one could notice a greater effort to deepen the devotion.(29) Also the rich spiritual heritage of Fr. Giaccardo, still to be discovered, flows in them. I quote some elements from such meditations:

Importance of the devotion. In the meditation of June, the Founder expressly states: The devotion to the Divine Master "is not properly a devotion, but it is the devotion" (p. 3), "it is not an accessory, but it is essential. Possessing it one possesses all richness" (p. 11). "It summarizes and completes all the devotions. In fact it presents Jesus Truth, whom to believe; as Way to follow; as Life of which we must take part. We have to consider complete the Divine Master" (p. 4). "We render a cult to the Divine Master, whether He is in the Eucharist, or how the Gospel shows him, whether he is present in the Church; and how he is still in the Congregation, because it has the task of teaching: ‘Docete omnes gentes’ [Teach to all people]" (p. 3). "Thus the Daughters of St. Paul live in the Eucharist, in the reading of the Gospel, in the contemplation of the examples of Jesus Master" (p. 5).

"As members of the Institute, we have the duty of behaving in such a manner that in the world the devotion to the Divine Master is propagated. Salvation consists in this: ‘Ut cognoscant Te, et Quem misisti, Jesum Christum’ [That they know you, and He whom you sent, Jesus Christ]. If the Pauline Family remains always at this height, it lives a very lofty life" (p. 4).

The Master Way to the Father. Especially in the second meditation, "Jesus Way," we find a significant opening to the mystery of the Father, of whose visibility is Jesus himself: "The holiness of the Father we see in the son: imitating the Son, we imitate the Father: ‘Qui videt me videt et Patrem meum’" (p. 6). He contemplates Jesus above as mediator: "The Divine Master is our Mediator, or our Way to go to the Father"; he underlines four aspects of such meditation wherein the Master is way to the Father: adoration, thanksgiving, satisfaction, intercession: "We adore in Christ and, adoring in Him, our acts of adoration are pleasing to the Heavenly Father. In the second place, we thank the Father in J. C. and through J. C. Jesus, so the Gospel tells us, often thanked the Father, for all the graces given Him as man, ‘gratias agens’... In the third place, J. C. is the Way for satisfying our debts before the Father. Humanity obtains forgiveness for sins through J. C. Every time Mass is celebrated, a worthy satisfaction is rendered to the Father. In the fourth place, we, through J. Christ and in J. C. ask the Father for the necessary graces and we obtain them through Him, only through Him. We need to present ourselves to the Father while carrying with us the Crucified and that we tell Him: ‘Respice in faciem Christi tui.’ He is the Way: there is no other. He who does not believe in Jesus Christ cannot please the Father" (pp. 5-6).

The liturgical dimension. In the meditation of November the Founder proposes the liturgical year as the privileged place wherein to live the devotion, inasmuch as "In the liturgical year, the virtues of Jesus, so to say, pass before us. The Church through the liturgy, which can also be called ‘the book of the Holy Spirit,’ continues to fulfill the mission assigned to her by Jesus Christ: ‘Euntes, docete omnes gentes... docentes servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis’" (p. 9). In the Church the disciples nourishes himself of the life of the Master, which is communicated him by the grace of the sacraments; these therefore have a fundamental importance in the Pauline discipleship, not only by themselves, but as pedagogy of growth in the Master.

The apostolic dimension. After the war, one saw the development of the means of communication. Fr. Alberione looks at them with discernment, but he welcomes them also as gift from above, in order to give the Word, as he wanted, "the speed of light" (cf. CVV 156). Passage is made from a monomedia apostolate (press) to a multimedia one (movies, radio, minimedia, discs, etc.). It is a passage that demands a more complex professionalism, above all on the technical level. Reading the meditations and the circular letters of those years, one notes the tight connection that the Founder places among means, content and Jesus Master. In this regard, it would be necessary to make a deeper analysis. For now, we content ourselves with some quotes: "In the Pauline Family, providence is most abundant also in matters of apostolate. Thus our apostolate has vast, effective and modern means, because the apostolate tends to utilize the results of science and to place them at the service of the Gospel, of the Divine Master." (30) It is not a theoretical connection but it involves the whole person of the apostle in his choices and in his lifestyle. The meditation of 1961 known to all is significant: "How many times do you raise the great problem: where to go, how to go ahead, towards what goal this humanity journeys to, a humanity that is ever renewed on the face of the earth? Humanity is like a big river which flows towards eternity: Shall it be saved? Shall it be lost forever? ‘Dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri’... How many empty words said, also in some periodicals! If souls are not brought to God, we do not save them... And we have at hand such powerful means, which progress has furnished us and that very often are misused for evil. What a great responsibility before God’s judgment if we have not used these means for turning people to children of God! Let us be grafted into Jesus Master: what did the Divine Master come to do? It is to evangelize. ‘I came into the world to preach the truth.’ Also you have come to the world to preach the truth, and not the truths that refer to the present life (although some things human are useful for preparing people to receive what is useful for the future life) but those that regard life eternal. Jesus said...: ‘Think of it: I have been the light of the world; but now you are the light of the world.’ Think of being grafted into Jesus Master, strengthen ever more this devotion and let us be grafted ourselves in Jesus Christ... Graft into Christ your head, your heart, your mind, your activities, your work, the whole apostolate. Be sensitive to souls, feel the mission, the vocation..." (SdC 232-233). (return to summary)

Continued: The devotion to Jesus Master in the Rule of Life

return to summary

 

           Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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