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JESUS MASTER IN OUR APOSTOLATE
ACCORDING TO FR. ALBERIONE

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

by Teófilo Pérez ssp

  

II. The book "Apostolato Stampa"
Handbook of directions for formation and apostolate

4. The sphere of our apostolate

We have seen that to evangelize is to bring the good news of Jesus Master in order to transform the life of those who may accept it and in turn adhere to it. More precisely, there is the need to bring the person of Jesus himself, because "He is God’s Gospel Himself" (EN 7).

The good news comes from God the Father and establishes rapport with everything created (which is good: Gen 1:31) and with history (which has meaning: Heb 13:8). To evangelize is to affirm that there is hope in spite of the blows and death itself; in fact it is to proclaim Jesus of Nazareth dead and resurrected, who announces the coming of the Kingdom with words and deeds (cf. Acts 1:1). The Gospels present Jesus as Teacher of wisdom and of life and they often describe three gestures of his: to walk ("he traversed, went, crossed, approached"), to watch (noticing, seeing, raising his eyes") and to give ("gave them, touched him, distributed them"). Evangelization, like the economy of revelation, "includes intimately related events and words, in a manner that the deeds... manifest and strengthen the doctrine and the realities signified by the words, while the words proclaim the deeds and illustrate the mysteries contained in them"(DV 2).(112) Evangelization locates itself not outside history but within it, although it is permanently conflictual; it takes place within social reality, the way society is structured.

All these parameters, profoundly actual, we find in the initial intuition of Fr. Alberione and in the ulterior developments that he succeeded in establishing. He was very interested in history, within which the salvific plan of God is actualized on behalf of mankind (of all persons), according to the Pauline expression: "God wants all men to be saved and reach the knowledge of truth" (1 Tim 2:4). This longing, and even a strong desire, for universality of salvation was one of the constant elements in Fr. Alberione. He felt, almost suffered, the desire of Jesus Christ: Venite ad me omnes (cf. AD 15); in view of it, he chose the Apostle Paul (or, perhaps better, allowed himself be won over and to choose); towards this end, he understood that all means must be used, especially the most modern ones, the strongest and most effective ones.

Convinced that Jesus Christ is the principle of salvation for the whole world,(113) and following the footsteps of St. Paul, "the saint of universality" (AD 64), Fr. Alberione felt the urgency of doing everything possible in order that all may dedicate themselves with every means in order that all may know the name and the work of Christ, with none excluded,(114) and towards this he always spurred his people: "How many times do you raise the great problem: where does it walk, how does it walk, towards what goal does this humanity walk, which renews itself always on the face of this earth?(115) Humanity is like a great river that flows into eternity: shall it be saved? Shall it be lost forever?(116) The awareness of the mission was most alive in Fr. Alberione: "He felt deeply obliged to ... do something for the Lord and for men of the new century with whom he would live" (AD 15).(117)

The characteristics of universality and integrality are untiringly underlined by our Founder, who goes back a thousand and one times to the adjective all and everyone: "The [Pauline] Family has a wide opening towards the whole world in the whole apostolate: studies, apostolate, piety, action, publications. Publications for all kinds of people; all subject matters and events judged under the light of the Gospel; the aspirations: those of the Heart of Jesus in the Mass; in the only apostolate: "to let Jesus Christ be known," to enlighten and sustain every apostolate and every good deed; to keep in one’s heart all peoples; to make the presence of the Church be felt in every problem; spirit of adaptation and understanding of all the public and private needs; the whole worship, the laws, the spousal of Justice with charity" (AD 65).(118)

Throughout his entire life, Fr. Alberione returns to the same makeup, emphasizing the foundation of our apostolate and of its universality: "Apostolate is to give salvation to humanity: Jesus Christ Way, Truth and Life. The Pauline apostolate is universal as for places and for times... Preach with the modern means... The Pious Society of St. Paul has something to tell the world;(119) we have been placed on a road in order that we may not wander, but that we may have goals established by studied and perfected means." (120)

At times he underlined this aspect with even greater emphasis: "The whole world (euntes in mundum universum) could be compared to an immense parish, the Pope’s parish. That is your field wherein workers of the Gospel continue to sow the good grain under the light of day; and the prince of error and of evil sow weeds there in the darkness...(121) The Pauline Family, inserted by its apostolate in the Church due to its definitive approval, has the duty of remaining and offering the most humble and most devoted service to the Pope in his immense parish, joining the sowers of the Gospel with the use of technical means of its own. It occupies a place of great responsibility, while participating in the apostolic mission and carrying out the divine mandate, ‘Docete omnes gentes’...

"The Pauline mission is universal, as regards men: it is not a mission for a group or sector of men ... instead, it addresses, while using technical means, in some measure, everyone: every class, status, age, condition, nation, continent; with a reasonable preference for the masses; in order to bring to all the message of salvation contained in the Bible, Tradition, teachings of the Church.

"Universal as regards the means. ... Everything that by God’s disposition progress shall succeed in inventing... let this be used and truly be useful for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, or for the spread of the Catholic Doctrine...

"Universal as regards the times; inasmuch as the Constitutions state to use the means required by the conditions of the times...(122)

"Universal as regards the object; inasmuch as it concerns Christianizing everything: philosophy and art, literature and music, sociology and morals, history and law, governments and laws, school and work, etc. St. Paul writes (Phil 4:7-8): ‘May God’s peace which surpasses all intelligence, watch over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. As for the rest, brothers, all that is true, pure, just, holy and lovable, all that is of good fame, or if there is any virtue or praiseworthy disciple, let this be object of your thoughts’" (UPS I, 371-374).(123) (return to summary)

5. Central point of the Pauline apostolate: relationship with Jesus Master

All these dimensions of our apostolate has as pillar, axle and fulcrum, the person of Jesus Master. Fr. Alberione expresses this central point in chapter XXI of the work we are analyzing (pp. 98-101), emblematically entitled "Omnia vestra sunt: Everything is yours" (1 Cor 3:22), as if to make us become aware of the innumerable riches and potentials we can avail of, but immediately moving on to the second part of Paul’s statement, "but you are of Christ and Christ is God" (ibid. 3:23). In fact Fr. Alberione develops this concept of radical belonging to the Divine Master in three highly involving subtitles: "Let us subject ourselves to Jesus, as Jesus subjected himself to the Father, wholeheartedly" (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). This attitude of submission is equivalent to a profession of faith which envelopes one’s whole being, along the line of Peter’s expression which becomes a catchphrase of the chapter: "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!" (Jn 6:68).

The Founder expresses once more the final end of our Apostolate: "The Apostolate of the Press has the purpose of attracting all men to the school of the Divine Master, so that they may give him the homage of the mind, of the will, of the heart" (p. 98). Such is the Father’s design, he who "supremely exalted and vested [Jesus] with that Name which is above every other name so that before Him every knee should bend, those of the heavens, of the earth, and under the earth" (Phil 2:10). Now "in this school one comes for love" and hence, "he who does not submit himself to the yoke of love, shall be made subject to the yoke of justice." (124)

"But who could bend human minds to this Master," so Fr. Alberione asks, "if not he who subjects his own mind to Jesus..., he who subjects his will to the will of God..., he who subjects his own heart to the living Heart of God?" (pp. 98-99). Such is the secret of every apostolate, that in this manner he is fully grafted in the Divine Master, while bowing before Him the way He is, after "everything shall have been made subject to him, he in turn shall subject himself to Him who has subjected everything to Himself so that God may be all to all" (1 Cor 15:28). The apostolate then leads to an absolute unity, which begins with the radical union of the apostle with his Master, that is, "a communion of the sent with Him who sends."

This requires that every Pauline man or woman let him/herself be existentially involved in the apostolate entrusted him/her: "to have the same sentiments of Christ" (Phil 2:5), the same attitudes: obedience to the Father, abandonment to His will (through the various concrete mediations), to consider one’s self as a member of Christ and to act correspondingly, never to seek one’s self, to conduct one’s self with humility, to be convinced too that the strength of God acts in our weakness (cf. 2 Cor 12:10) although we have to exert all efforts as if everything depended on us, so that as instruments we may be ready and docile as ever in the hands of God. In short, the Pauline, in order to exercise the apostolate submits himself to his Master and Lord with all his being: mind, will, heart (pp. 101-102).

Intimate relationship with the Master takes place in the entire Pauline life, in all its components, obviously with the peculiar characteristics of every "moment" or of every "wheel", without creating dichotomies because it is one’s whole life that is submitted along with all its intertwinings. There cannot be any contradiction in Christ who calls us to himself and sends us to our brothers (cf. Mk 3:14).

In this sense, Fr. Alberione, starting from his profound experience, has written: "The great help for our sanctification is the exercise of the apostolate." (125) And he immediately links this basic affirmation with another privileged "moment" of closeness to Jesus: "But who shall do the apostolate better and draw greater fruit from it? The eucharistic souls. Jesus in the Eucharist is the Master who teaches. Jesus in the Eucharist is the Truth, and the eucharistic soul shall have greater love for Truth, greater zeal in the apostolate. Even more, the fruit of the devotion to the Eucharist must be love for the apostolate." (126) And then, always seeking integrality, the Founder insists on other attitudes which concern personal effort: right intention and patience, till he concludes: "Good will is equal to fervor. Some souls [persons] are sustained in fervor by external action; others, by activity in interior life; others by sentiments of reparation and conquest... Coordinating well contemplative with active life, one certainly progresses because one is attentive the whole day to strengthen union with God and to spread what is good: this is love." (127)

Going back to our book, Apostolato Stampa, we have to note that the close connection between the aforementioned chapter XXI and those dedicated to the "Mass in honor of Jesus Master" (chap. XI), the "communion" (chap. XIII) and especially the "Visit" (chap. XII) understood as "going to the school of Jesus," that is when "the disciple goes to stay with the Master" to listen to him, learn from him, and confer with Him about his own life and strengthen the bond of personal union with him. In this encounter one has the nutshell or he puts into focus his whole life "inasmuch as one summarizes, clears, unifies in the service of God all knowledge acquired during spiritual, intellectual, natural and apostolic formation... our will is made uniform, as well as our deeds, to God after the example of Him who always pleased the Father... and one recognizes that the apostolate presupposes Christian life and holy life, to which is brought the heroic complement of zeal for the glory of God and for souls.(128) (return to summary)

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           Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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