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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

 

Notes

26 "While waiting for the hour to move from plans to action, Fr. Alberione attentively examined in books the various forms or schools of religious spirituality, but he studied them mainly in their practical life, even as he approached various Orders and Congregations to seek clarification or to ask that he made his Spiritual Exercises in their houses in order that he could see them more closely and ask them questions more easily" (L. Rolfo, op. cit., 75). Also after having started the Scuola Tipografica, Fr. Alberione continued to show interest on the life of religious institutes: "During summer vacations (from 1909 to 1918), he used to do his Spiritual Exercises in some religious institutes. During the free time, he tried to approach the Superiors in order to know the ways taken in the recruitment and formation of persons" (AD 36). (come back to text)

27 For Fr. Alberione, "the direction of the weekly [Gazzetta d’Alba] was the first step of that journey which would bring him very far; it was the key that allowed him to open a door on which he knocked in vain for years. His plans were known only to him and he knew how to keep them all to himself, but soon they would be revealed" (L. Rolfo, op. cit., 82). (come back to text)

28 Cf. L. Rolfo, op. cit., 83-84. (come back to text)

29 "All the Institutes taken together form the Pauline Family. All the Institutes have a common origin. All the Institutes have the same spirit. All the Institutes have converging goals" (UPS III, 185). (come back to text)

30 Fr. Alberione would remain faithful along this line: "always begin from a crib" (AD 43), and with an attitude of great humility: "If [the Lord] would have found a person more unworthy and incapable [than me] he would have preferred him. Nonetheless, this is for me, and for all a guarantee that the Lord has willed and has had things done for Him: in the same manner that an artist takes whatever pen, worth a few cents and blind regarding the work he has to do, even if it were but a beautiful Divine Master Jesus Christ" (UPS I, 374). "Begin like Jesus from a crib, brought ahead with an exile; and then in the little house of Nazareth, the public ministry, concluded with the shame of the cross, but everything for the heavenly glory: dedit ei nomen quod est super omne nomen (SP Sept.-Oct. 1953; cf. CISP 1040). "Prudently, humbly beginning, but small and daily steps ahead, everything progresses with healthy balance and one obtains merit before God and before men" (UPS III, 37). At times a more hidden beginning seemed necessary: "When the first boys were gathered together... a curious thing happened, almost an alarm... We need therefore to be born even smaller, and not even a cry should be heard..." (CISP 148). (come back to text)

31 "He [Fr. Alberione] has a mission and so the Lord has entrusted him a discreetly religious idea. It is certain that the Lord has shown him his will, just as it is certain that God has spoken to men through the Scriptures. And the will of God is that he should consecrate himself entirely to the training and guidance of the apostles of the press. All the forms of apostolate, including those traditional ones of preaching and teaching, are good for others, but they remain to be in the second place for him and for all those who shall join him... It is a truly great vocation that those who hear him cannot totally understand. They shall understand it better through the years, when they shall have noticed the effects. [... So he spoke to the boys:] ‘Ah, if you could understand the loftiness of your mission! As you grow, you shall experience it better, but never completely... [cf. T. Giaccardo, Diario, op. cit., 107]. The creation of a vocation, of this vocation, is a creation greater than the creation of the whole world... [ibid., 200]. If St. Paul, aflame and burning to do good, would have come to this house: I’m sure of it. Today, we have here the center for doing good... [ibid., 243]. You are at the foot of a big mountain, climb it, aim at your horizon: it is the whole world... Raise your eyes, look up to a tree whose top cannot be seen: this is our House which is really an alberone, you are at the roots’ [ibid., 255]" (L. Rolfo, op. cit., 111, 117-118, 127, quoting some passages from the Diario of Blessed T. Giaccardo). (come back to text)

32 Fr. Alberione succeeded in eliciting the enthusiasm of his followers over this grandiose mission. Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, since 1916, writes in his Diario (op. cit., 23: 9 Nov. 1916): "Monsignor Passi’s conference deeply shook me. The august prelate has raised an alarm; and I do not listen to the voice of a bishop like I do to a lawyer’s; the bishop possesses in him the: ‘ite, docete omnes gentes.’ ...The conference has swept away every fog in the field of my inclinations; I no longer have any doubt: I see clearly: I shall be an apostle of the Good Press." This declaration regarding the specific mission (obviously there is the determining influence of Fr. Alberione) is done before the appearance of the "devotions" (or "spirituality") characteristic of the Pauline Family: in fact, the young Timothy invokes Jesus Cleric, Jesus Priest, Jesus Redeemer/Savior, the Sacred Heart and Mother Immaculate...: St. Paul is mentioned already and invoked during the first months of 1917, and so is Mary, Queen of Apostles (cf. op. cit., 53-54; 78-79; 145); Jesus Master appears for the first time in 1923 (ibid., 304); in 1925, the devotion to Jesus Master would appear to be one of the principal "devotions" (ibid., 308); it is taken for granted in 1942 and the following years (ibid., 309, 327, 342-343, 348-357, etc.). Fr. Giaccardo quotes some bible texts and makes this reflection: "Docete eos servare omnia... Ecce ego vobiscum sum; prædicate evangelium..; quærite primum regnum Dei et hæc omnia...; non vos... sed ego elegi vos ut eatis. (Teach then to observe all things... I am with you; preach the Gospel...; seek first the kingdom of God and all these things...; you did not choose me, I chose you that you would go). And all these texts in relation with the Good Press. A spirit has awakened in me, stronger than prayer, a more lively faith and of trust in the Eucharistic Christ... I have seen more clearly, it has greatly impressed me that my mission is for the Press Apostolate and I felt burning more greatly through it... I feel entirely for the Good Press" (ibid., 43: 22 Feb. 1917). (come back to text)

33 As we have seen, the range of foundations of religious institutions covers so to say the whole life of Fr. Alberione: from 1914 (Society of St. Paul) to 1960 (the Aggregated Institutes): more than forty years of foundation fruitfulness. Then the specifically apostolic initiatives are truly countless (cf. for example, what is contained in L. Rolfo, op. cit., 213-232; 302, and others). (come back to text)

34 Blessed Timothy Giaccardo remembers in his Diario some instructions of Fr. Alberione: "God loves and wants the Good Press, he wants to grant to it His graces, He has them ready, He waits that through our prayers we will until His hands. The Good Press is of utmost importance, the intensity and extension of its mission can be measured by the words of Leo XIII... It is something new, the road has not been made yet, enormous difficulties block the path of this ship across the woods..." (ibid., 235). "The promise for the good press is the promise of consecrating one’s self to the work, to the most beautiful, most holy, most worthy mission that exists on earth. I am certain that if God permitted an Angel to earn merit and send him on earth, he would come here. If St. Paul, aflame and burning to do good, could come again he would come to this house: I’m sure of it. Today, we have here the center for doing good" (ibid., 243). "In the Press [on May 30, 1920, Fr. Alberione obliges Giaccardo to leave school and assume the Direction of the Gazzetta; and Timoteo comments: "It seems more noble to cultivate vocations directly, but I follow willingly God’s will"] I just don’t have enough practical faith, little union with God; and this bears confusion in my heart..., an inability for me to be recollected and to study and do something... Another effect as well is that my faculties are too absorbed in material work and right intention suffers for it... Too much eagerness to get involved and dedicate myself on the paper... Before, I was almost a contemplative... Here, however, is born a purer and more generous desire for the good of souls and the love of God is fomented. I esteem prayer more and when I can go to the Church and ask pardon, and to orient myself a bit towards Jesus, I do it with elevated feelings. Gazzetta: in the name of God I take it. The Sig. Teologo tells us that when it seems God is not listening to us, things just go ahead" (ibid., 294-295; 15 June 1920). (come back to text)

35 "We ran different dangers and of all kinds, personal, financial; accusations in written and oral reports: we lived dangerously from day to day" (AD 164). Difficulties came from every part: from external enemies ("the Socialists of Alba threatened many times to burn the press, house and periodicals": AD 172), from the lack of economic means ("at times the needs were urgent and serious, and all resources and human hopes were shut": AD 166), from precarious health of Fr. Alberione himself ("you shall not save him; tuberculosis is taking him": AD 112), from the limitations and inadequacies of his own people ("you shall suffer due to deviations and defections": AD 26), from some "accidents" (for example, the probability of being called to military service, the fire in the press on Christmas 1918 or else the misunderstanding also by the church authorities in view of approval for the new religious institutes: cf. L. Rolfo, op. cit., 131, 141, 166). All these blocks and others, too, were disguised by Fr. Alberione with a great sense of realism and above all by faith: "External difficulties? The Lord did permit me to meet many of them..., we were not worthy or capable of bearing them... The true difficulties are always those inside; then among men, mistakes do occur" (AD 206); and whatever, it was always a matter of "steps that the kind and loving Providence provided, and that in spite of our misery and lack of correspondence, ‘attingit a fine usque ad finem fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia’" (AD 78), and in any case "St. Paul was always salvation" (AD 164). Later, Fr. Alberione (after having marked his unchanged line of conduct: "... the provincial superiors, observance of the Constitutions, great docility to the Superior General..."), would underline one of the most serious dangers: "The internal divisions in an Institute lead to the most serious consequences: divisions of thought, of direction, of character, of doctrine, of activities, etc. They destroy in the foundation and in life the spirit of the Institute. Union is of such good that for it goods and particular points of view must be sacrificed. The worst is the division among Major Superiors, General Council, Provincial superiors..." (UPS I, 291). And he does not allow himself to recognize the difficulties natural to the specific apostolate: "Let everyone be persuaded that in these apostolates (with the mass media), a greater spirit of sacrifice and deeper piety are required. Failed attempts, sacrifice of sleep and timetables, money which was never enough, misunderstandings on the part of many, spiritual dangers of all kinds, careful attention in the choice of means... We need saints to precede us in these paths not yet trodden and in part not even indicated" (SP November 1950; cf. CISP 807). (come back to text)

36 After the opening of the house of Rome (January, 1926) and gradually as the other houses in the Italian territory were opened, the Society of St. Paul (followed closely by the Daughters of St. Paul and the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master) knew its first wave of foundations, between 1931 and 1936, in Argentina, Brazil, the United States, France, Spain, Poland, China, Japan, Philippines and India. Some years later, in 1943, the foundation in Portugal was started. A second wave of expansion would come at the end of the World War, between 1946 and 1953, in Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Chile, England, Venezuela, Australia and Cuba; a bit later the houses in Germany, Zaire, South Korea were opened. As regards the SSP, the foundations of Ecuador, Peru, Macau, Nigeria and Panama (aside from the reopening in Poland) came after the death of Fr. Alberione. (come back to text)

37 The title, "Primo Maestro" was given to Fr. Alberione by the bishop of Alba, when he signed, in May 1927, the decree of erection of the Society of St. Paul as Congregation of diocesan rights. Fr. Angelico da Alessandria, apostolic visitor in the years 1940-41, jokingly told Fr. Alberione once, "Meanwhile, you allow yourself to be called Maestro, even Primo Maestro!" Smiling and yet quite seriously, Fr. Alberione replied, "One must well understand what is meant by ‘primo maestro’: it means that he must be the first to teach by example to patiently bear difficulties, opposition, mortification, humiliations of life; hence, I feel humiliated because I know that I am the last of masters." (L. Rolfo, op. cit., II ed., 213). "In our Institute the Superior General is called Primo Maestro [in reality such a title is exclusively reserved to the Founder, and it was not passed on to his successors], in order to remind him and members that he represents Jesus Master and that representing him and depending on him, he must be for everyone Way, Truth and Life; to guide, give good example, instruct, sanctify" (UPS III, 241-242). (come back to text)

38 Cf. L. Rolfo, op. cit., 344. (come back to text)

39 SP Sept.-Nov. 1968, cf. CISP 245. (come back to text)

40 ECM, March-April 1941. The idea of the apostolate as center of life is mentioned in other passages: "Trust in the Lord and in the Apostolate!... In the Lord: ‘...he sent them two by two ahead of him into every city and place He was to go’ (Lk 10:1). ...Trust in the apostolate! In every Nation our apostolate can provide what is necessary for living and for developing vocations)" (SP May-June 1938; cf. CISP 1038). (come back to text)

41 SP May-June 1952; cf. CISP 1032. (come back to text)

42 Ibid.; cf. also AD 87. (come back to text)

43 SP May-June 1953; cf. CISP 1037f. (come back to text)

44 SP September 1954; cf. CISP 1124 f. Fr. Alberione insisted much on our attitude towards the Master, which obviously is the attitude of the "disciples." This gospel category has to be united, once more, to the lived intimacy with Jesus and to the mission (cf. Mk 3:14). "The fact that Jesus chose apostles is undeniable from the historical point of view. Many are the passages wherein he himself is called Master, and this cannot be understood as a backward projection of the place occupied by the Lord in the early community. A dual dimension presents the fact that Jesus had disciples around himself. On one hand, the need felt by Jesus to associate with his mission others who would multiply the proclamation. However, the election among his disciples of a more intimate group (that of the twelve) is important in remembrance of the twelve tribes, as sign of the new Israel which he started with the coming of the kingdom. Granted that this advent involved a new form of relationships with God, it required also new people of Israel, with a new covenant and a new form of relationships among the members of this people. The election of the twelve is also a living parable of this new people" (cf. José R. Busto Saiz, Jesucristo, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 648). (come back to text)

45 The same concept is strongly emphasized in the "Manifesto della catechesi integrale" as Fr. Alberione touches on the ties among Catechism, the Gospel and Liturgy: "Fundamental task of the Pauline is to give the Christian doctrine, dogmatics, morals, and liturgy. Among these three parts there is a tight unity. Teaching must be complete. Jesus Christ is the Master whom the Pauline must repeat; now He is together Way, Truth and Life. ‘Your Master is one: Christ’" (SP Nov.-Dec. ’54; CISP 847f). (come back to text)

46 Ritiro alla comunità di Roma, 1948. (come back to text)

47 HM IV, 1948, retreat of June. And presenting an outline for a news magazine in 1957, he summarized what he wanted it to contain: "The whole world, the whole country, the whole work of the Church: always seeing under the light of Jesus Master" (CISP 882). (come back to text)

48 PrPM, Es., Grottaferrata-Albano, 1954, 303. For relationships in general between Christology and Mission, cf. A. Álvarez Bolado, in Estudios Eclesiásticos, Jan.-March 1996, 3-29 (regarding the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus). (come back to text)

49 SP December 1957; cf. CISP 862. The unmistakable repetition of the verb "to give," is significant. "To give" is equivalent to "to propose" in an attitude of service, never "to impose," inasmuch as the Christian message always appeals to the freedom of the person. One could thus overcome in this manner the mistaken mode of conceiving the magisterium, which often divided the Church into two almost opposing trends: those who teach (substantiated habitually in the hierarchy at whatever level) and those who learn (someone has reached the point of saying, "Those governed have no other right than that of being led"). A consequence of this arrangement, bringing things to the extreme: that of at times interpreting the infallibility in docendo as cause of the infallibility in credendo (which ought to be the result of assent or sensus fidei); this infallibility in credendo is practically reduced to the infallibility in discendo (that is to the impossibility of erring on the part of him who assents to what he says to another, that is, he who could not err, properly speaking). But in good theology, every believer, hence the whole Church, is discente and docente at the same time, on the level of the experience of faith that is manifested in practice by the whole People of God (cf. R. Velasco, Magisterio, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 748-752. (come back to text)

50 He repeats the same thing in a text of 1968, when already Vatican II had solemnly sanctioned our apostolate of social communication: "The Lord has wanted our Congregation in order to make Jesus Christ be known in his doctrine, in his morals, in the means of salvation and of grace, to all men and with the means of our times. It must happen this way today, and it must take place for all the times that the Lord shall want to bless our service" (SP March 1968, cf. CISP 342). (come back to text)

51 "...Love is a basic category of Christianity and of its novelty; it could be considered also the central category of the Council renewal... Jesus associates closely the aspects of love of God to love of neighbor; but often, insofar as he wants to indicate his commandment, Jesus refers only to human love (cf. Jn 15:12-14); and Paul would say that the whole law reaches its fullness in love of neighbor (cf. Gal 5:14); the final judgment is the clearest and most dramatic expression of the centrality of love of brothers. On the other hand, Jesus never separates love from practice: love is the most profound moment of unity between the life and the message of Jesus. The new culture does not have as a pivot a commandment, but a Person totally given to his brothers" (cf. G. Girardi, Amor, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 20f). "The two great objectives with universal range that John Paul II proposes for the new evangelization [mentioned for the first time in Poland in 1979, solemnly proclaimed in Haiti in 1983 and spread in Europe in 1985] are: 1) the establishment of the ‘civilization of love’ (originally an idea of Paul VI) based on ‘solidarity’ with the poor, the dignity of the person, human life and the openness to transcendence in an interdependent world; 2) the renewal of the Church herself in order to accomplish such service, something that requires a kind of self-evangelization" (C. Floristán, Evangelización, ibid., 472). (come back to text)

 

           Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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