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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

72 In San Paolo of November 1950 he expands this idea: "We have in the Church the ordinary written teaching and the oral teaching in the Bible and in Tradition. Thus we have the preaching of the word of God by voice and the preaching in print. The press as apostolate has for its object faith, morals, worship; although in a very broad vision. Its aspiration is in the doctrine of the Church: the remote sources are the Scriptures and the Tradition. It is addressed to every man, faithful and unfaithful; to those who are illiterate through images" (cf. CISP 803). "... The Word of God is a current and familiar expression in the language of Christians. According to the history of religions, a great power of the word has been recognized for always. The experience and conviction of believers is that God manifests his intentions through the word; he makes his will known and leads things towards their respective ends. The word of God has two kinds of values: one informative (poetic function) and the other, transformative (dynamic function). The Hebrew term dabar means at the same time word and reality. The word lived long in the oral tradition. Then it was made permanent in writing; thus are born the Scriptures. The objective tendency of the word kept on growing and, in such direction, the written fixing represents a decisive step. The word is referred to in concrete images, as a fire or a hammer (Jer 5:14; 23:29), a scroll which the prophet receives (Ez 2:9), the prophet "keeps the word of God" and feel all his weight in his life (2 Kgs 3:12; Jer 20:8), the psalmist has trust in it (Ps 119:81).The written (or engraved) fixing of certain important words, like the decalogue or small books of laws, is documented by antiquity. Starting from a given moment, when speaking of the word, what is understood is the written word (Dt 13:1). To put something into writing means to contain a living power. Attempts would be made many times to use the word magically; this is a risk to which the word is exposed. As for the rest, to put something into writing is to guarantee permanence to a value that does not belong only to the past, but has the capacity to guide the life of man towards the future. The Bible begins to stand as Scripture with "the book of the law," during the time of King Josiah (2 Kgs 22:8ff); it grew with the book of Esdra as the foundation of the post-exile community, and afterward it is completed with other books, including "the Scriptures" which are fulfilled with the event of Jesus. For Christianity, the Scriptures are the norm of life that has Jesus as the hermeneutic principle. The Bible is born as expression of life of a community and, once born, it became its nourishment. The Bible is the fruit of a dialogue kept with God by the builders of the community, while paying attention to the events of history. The Church is born around the word, the logos of God, and her life consists in continuing to be born from such source. The word’s being in force lies in the life that it nourishes in the community of believers: without the living Church there would be no Scriptures (or vice versa?). It is not possible to "guard the deposit" by fanatically holding on to it literally, but by converting its spirit into life. The word of the Bible is the source of doctrine of the Church; but doctrine and truth understood not only in the poetic sense but in the dynamic sense, as force that generates life and sustains it. Here is the point where one can prove if the word is true, that is, effective and faithful to the hope that it elicits. The truth has synonyms, according to Jesus’ words, the way and the life; in the way of life where it becomes real and where the truth of the word is substantiated. The trustworthy witnesses are those who live of it" (cf. Á. González Núñez, Palabra de Dios, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 937-956). (come back to text)

73 Prediche del Rev.mo Primo Maestro [years 1952-1955] quoted by R. F. Esposito in La teologia della pubblicistica, EP, Rome 19722, 19. (come back to text)

74 With a greater strength would Paul VI affirm in the exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi: "In our century, marked by the mass media or instruments of social communication, the first proclamation, catechesis and the further deepening of the faith cannot but make use of these means... Placed at the service of the Gospel, they are capable of extending almost to infinity the field of reception of the word of God, and they let the good news reach millions of persons. The Church would feel guilty before her Lord if she would not make use of these strong means which human intelligence perfects each day; making use of them, the Church "preaches from the rooftops" (cf. Mt 10:27; Lk 12:3) the message of which she is the depository; in them she finds a modern and effective version of the pulpit. Thanks to them, she can speak to the multitudes" (no. 45). In this passage we find a typically Alberione terminology: "The [printing] machine, the microphone, the screen are our pulpit; the printing press, the production, projection and transmission rooms, are our church" (SP February 1952; cf. CISP 832; Pensieri, 170). Similar texts are frequent but let us just quote an especially expressive one, taken from chapter IX of the book that concerns us now, entitled "Il lavoro materiale nell’Apostolato stampa," a kind of "hymn of creatures": in it there is a strong approach to the "modern means" to the other "earthly realities" which traditionally formed the sacramental "matter": "Created things have to be subject to man and must serve him: then man, if he acts well, places creatures at the service of God. The Apostle of the press does this to a maximum degree that places created things and himself at the service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ everything is restored and receives a new mission, new meaning, new power for the glory of God and peace to men. Never have created things been so mobilized and honored during the course of centuries; they concurred in forming Jesus Christ in the souls, like water in Baptism. Truly everything has been redeemed in Christ; truly where the crime for the rebellion of creatures abounded, there grace superabounded by the obedience of Jesus Christ. Radio and telephone for the gathering of truths and of facts; the linotype, the monotype and the engraving machines for setting up; the web offset, the engraving machine and the printing machine; the mechanical manufacture and the organization of mail and airways for diffusion, these are examples which explain that the charity of the apostles calls all creatures to proclaim God, just as a prayerful faith full of love for souls invites created things themselves, and everything, to revere and praise their Creator: ‘Benedicite omnia opera Domini Domino!’ (loc. cit., 41; cf. R. F. Esposito, La teologia della pubblicistica, 19722, 184). (come back to text)

75 "We must bring the whole Christ to man and render the whole man to God, through Jesus Christ" (Unione Cooperatori, Dec. 1959, p. 10; quoted in Chap. Doc., no. 139). (come back to text)

76 Similar in some respects to this trinomial was the well known "sacred triad of the classical rhetoric," which presented nonetheless the elements in another order, perhaps more psychological: pathos, ethos, pragma; motus, mores, doctrina; heart, will, mind, favoring face to face with the known Aristotelian-Scholastic adage "nihil volitum quin præcognitum", the Neoplatonic-Augustinian aphorism, "I would not have known you if before I did not seek you" (cf. Agustin del Agua, in Estudios Eclesiásticos, no. 277 [1996], 186; cf. S. Agostino, Sul vangelo di Giovanni, in Liturgia delle Ore, Thursday XXVIII). (come back to text)

77 Predicazione sull’Apostolato, 88; cf. Vad 1011; also no. 1023: "Our Institute is a teaching one. It aims to give Jesus Christ to the world, that is, his doctrine, his morals, his worship." (come back to text)

78 "You are salt, you are light, you are the city placed on the mountain: respect for the world. It is the thought of the Divine Master. In the first place give the doctrine that saves" (AD 87). (come back to text)

79 He wrote in January, 1935: "In the Apostolate of the Press, [Sacred Scripture] is so essential that: with the Bible alone it subsists in its essential elements; without it the Apostolate of the Press cannot in any way live, although at times something like it is done" (UCAS 15 January 1935; cf. Vad 1057). "The Bible is the book we must give. Either we give it through films, or give through press, or give it with radio voice, or we give it through discs, or we give it through slides, or in another manner: use all means which the Lord has given us. Just as we clothe and nourish ourselves with what He has created" (Predicazione sull’Apostolato, February 1933; cf. Vad 1014). (come back to text)

80 Technically, evangelization (see above, note 69) is the first proclamation of the Gospel as a reality of salvation or good news. It has the characteristics of the first proclamation (kerygma) which tries to provoke conversion and global or fundamental option of faith. It is the typically missionary proclamation, for those who are not yet believers: that is, those who never had access to the faith or those who have gone away from it. Its content is centered on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (cf. J. Aldazábal, Predicación, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 1059). (come back to text)

81 Catechesis is the ecclesial duty through which those who have accepted Christian revelation are helped in order that they may deepen and interiorize the contents of the same faith, discussing, in a more or less analytical and systematic manner, the different aspects of the faith (cf. ibid.). (come back to text)

82 It deals with instruction, very similar to catechetical instruction, although less methodical, more circumstantial, just as preaching during a liturgical celebration (homily) is done: the explanation of the word of the bible listened to, with the exhortation to the faithful to assimilate it in life thus building one’s own Christian identity. Indeed, the three kinds of preaching are intimately related to each other and many times they complete and even are confounded with one another. Evangelization must lead to a process of catechetical deepening; the homily must make the biblical message and option of faith actual. In practice, however, in the world wherein we live, not all those who attend courses of catechesis or to a liturgical celebration are already adequately evangelized. Hence, catechesis, which in theory should be the maturation of what is already known and accepted, many times must try to elicit a first response of faith; on the other hand, the homily, without losing its characteristic of introducing the mystery liturgically celebrated, practically accomplishes the work of catechesis and evangelization on those who come for the celebrations (cf. ibid., 1060). All these aspects of preaching Fr. Alberione intends to accomplish with the fastest and fruitful means for good: "I allow myself to clarify the specific purpose of our Pious Society of St. Paul: it is intended to do with the written word what the preachers do with the spoken word" (Relazione al cardinal Laurenti, in L. Rolfo, op. cit., 165). (come back to text)

83 "Do not speak only of religion, but speak of everything in a Christian manner; in a manner similar to a Catholic university which completes itself with Theology, Philosophy, letters, medicine, economics, politics, natural sciences, etc., but everything is given in a Christian manner and everything is ordered to Catholicism" (AD 87; cf. Vad 1060, 1214). The theme of "inculturation" is touched here. Inculturation’s relationship with faith "...is an old reality and a new problem or, better still, an intricate web of new problems, more so because faith is always the faith of concrete persons, in the space of time and of history: in culture [and the world of communication today is understood more as culture than a sum of instruments]. "Faith is not an abstraction; it has heart, blood and nerves," Cardinal Newman said. "Inculturation," Fr. Arrupe wrote, "means the incarnation of life and of the Christian message in a concrete cultural area in such a manner that this experience not only arrives at expressing itself with the elements proper to the culture concerned (this would only be a superficial adaptation), but that it becomes an inspiring, normative and unifying principle that transforms and re-creates this culture thus giving origin to a new creation" (cf. Torres Queiruga, Inculturación de la fe, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 611-619). (come back to text)

84 Cf. Prediche del Rev.mo Primo Maestro [years 1952-1955], quoted by R. F. Esposito, op. cit., 135. (come back to text)

85 The last words, in Latin and with the "quidquid" in place of "quæcumque", are those of St. Paul in Phil 4:8: "As for the rest, brothers, whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovable, praiseworthy; whatever is virtuous and deserves praise, all this draw your attention." (come back to text)

86 "Apostle is he who carries God in his soul and spreads His rays around him. The apostle is a saint who has accumulated treasures and shares the bounty with men. The apostle has a heart burning with love for God and for men, and cannot suppress or suffocate what he feels and thinks. The apostle is a temple of the Most Holy Trinity, who in him exceedingly works. He, so to speak of a writer, exudes God from all his pores: with words, with works, with prayers, with gestures, with behavior, in public and in private, from the whole of his being. Live of God and give God!" (UPS IV, 277; cf. Pensieri, 155). (come back to text)

87 This spirit of service keeps away the dangers of aggression that the media of social communication possess, by considering them as instruments at the service of the apostolate, and at the same time obliges one to observe the laws typical to each of these means in order to benefit the apostolate (cf. Chap. Doc., nos. 192-194, 203-205). (come back to text)

88 This fits well with the doctrine of the following of Christ: "... The spirituality [of the following] is an unidentified, or not sufficiently identified, science, an extremely complex concept that varies according to age, sex, peoples, cultural environment, tradition, etc. Under the Platonic and Gnostic influence, it is the cult of the spirit, autonomously understood in opposition to the corporal being. Starting above all from the XVII century, the more personal and intimate dimension (even individual or intimistic) of the so-called "spiritual life" is underlined in a unilateral form by putting it at the center in the interpersonal relationship of the believer with his God (in the subjective conscience, at the margin of the world and of society). The biblical sources, however, lead to the overcoming of dualisms, root of so many unilateral divisions or reduced and opposed: divisions body-soul, matter-spirit, individual-society, interior life-exterior life, theory-practice. It concerns the recovery of all the richness that Christian spirituality, understood as a journeying according to the Spirit or as the concrete form of living the Gospel, under the urge of the Spirit, had in its very origins. Such is the concept of Paul when he speaks of being "pneumatikós" (1 Cor 2:13-15; 9:11; 14:1, indicating in full force the Christian life, the being of the person led by the Spirit of Christ, or the experience of God in the following of Christ. As a consequence, Christian spirituality is "the manner of living, under the action of the Spirit, a completely believing life, wherein the life of Christ’s Spirit is manifested in us through the historical conditions of concrete life." To confuse "flesh" with "body" and "spirit" with "soul" in Paul constitutes an authentic falsification by establishing in this manner a kind of anthropological sectoral antagonism and fomenting a disincarnate spirituality. For Paul, the antagonism "flesh-spirit" covers the totality of the human being. The spiritual man is man alive, completely liberated from death (and not only the soul), liberated from the tendency of the flesh (that is from egoism) that impedes loving and brings to death. Because of this, the fullness of spirituality is realized in the resurrection; Paul, in 1 Cor 15, speaks of soma pneumatikós. P. Richard defines spirituality as follows: "It is to go ahead in the faith of the resurrection, that is to say, the animation of the body through the immortal vitality of the Holy Spirit. This inroad of the Spirit into the believer, that transforms him into spiritual body by now liberated from death, is life according to the Spirit."... It is necessary to maintain this bipolar tension of the Christological and penumatological nature: reference to the story of Jesus of Nazareth and to the story that frees his Spirit assuming its different historical presences. The following of Jesus obviously presupposes intimate union with him; "to be like him," to allow one’s self to be "formed" by his attitudes of life and to have his same sentiments (Phil 2:5), to be like him (1 Pt 1:15-16), to live on like him (1 Jn 2:6), to follow his footsteps (1 Pt 2:21-22). It equally supposes taking up his cause, that is, to proclaim and make present the kingdom of God as Good News of liberating salvation; that which requires self-giving and total availability to the point of embracing persecution and the cross (Mk 8:35; Mt 10:16-18, 21-25, 38-39; Lk 14:27; Jn 12:24-26). Hence, the Christological dimension: to live as Jesus lived; and pneumatological dimension: sensitivity to the signs of the times. The Christological dimension involves: 1) as experience-source, the encounter with God in Jesus, conversion, following, uninterrupted following; 2) as content-basic nutshell, the unconditional surrender to the kingdom, the love that liberates in order to be for the others; 3) as in-forming spirit, that of the beatitudes (real poverty of spirit, purity of heart, bosom of mercy, capacity for understanding-forgiveness, seeking for peace beyond conflict; 4) as intimate horizon, the hope that generates faith-trust in the love of the Father; 5) as historical consequence, the misunderstanding and disregard, conflict, rejection, persecution and the cross. This is so because, in the words of J. B. Metz, Christianity alone can be radical or deplorable’" (cf. J. Lois, Espiritualidad, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 420-431). (come back to text)

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

90 SP October 1954; cf. CISP 1151; Vad 648. (come back to text)

91 In the Abundantes divitiæ we can find in outline a species of "inventory" of elements (of "richness") which Fr. Alberione brings as personal luggage to his foundation work: —the conscious perception of the social situations with the strong negative and positive urges; nos. 52. 101; —the awareness of the "new means for siphoning thought: (today we say, "means of social communication) which were breaking into the scene: no. 54 —the careful academic training and the social activities in the diocese: nos. 58-63, 91; —the profound impact of the figure of St. Paul, "the saint of universality": nos. 64-65; —the abundant readings in order to take the pulse of history in motion: nos. 66-67; —the crucible of intense prayer through which the other experiences and know-how went: nos. 68, 102; —the liturgy lived in connection with dogmatic and moral teachings: nos. 71-74; —the sensitivity towards Christian artistic expressions: nos. 76-77; —the constant catechetical work tested in the field: nos. 78-81; —pastoral spirit which pushed him to teach, write (then publish in 1913 Appunti di Teologia pastorale) and to study the works of experts and skilled pastoral operators: nos. 82-84; —to cultivate other auxiliary disciplines useful for preaching: no. 88; —vocation activities in preparation for the future: nos. 103-106, 110; —dedication to integral and not only academic teaching: no. 107; —giving value to the role of woman in the apostolate (with the publication in 1915 of the book La donna associata allo zelo sacerdotale): no. 109; etc. (come back to text)

92 Also in the material sense, Fr. Alberione gave all the little he could have for his religious family. He himself told the first young men gathered in Alba: "When I was a secular priest, I had a wallet and a coin-purse; when I entered here, for this family, since we had to spend much, I gave away the wallet and the coin-purse and I told the Lord: ‘Send what is necessary.’ (Mihi vivere Christus est, no. 113; quoted by L. Rolfo in op. cit., 150. (come back to text)

 

           Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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