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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

93 This simple slogan brings to the fore the value that Fr. Alberione gave to personal efforts, although he begins with the great appreciation for the religious life considered in itself. Once more, personal commitment for the integration of values is asked. And once more we find mission at the center: "...The crisis of religious life can be formulated as the concrete and felt dissociation between what is there of "life" in the religious life and the "religious" of such life. With such a dissociation considered, came a crisis of personal identity (the "religious" life almost threatened with depersonalization and dishumanization) and of apostolic relevance (separation from some clear demands and evangelical values: inefficiency in giving to others life and Christian life). Vatican II perceived this dual crisis and tried to face it with the "renewal": return to the sources, following of Jesus, charism of the founder, adaptation to current reality... The religious is first of all a man or a woman whose fundamental duty is that of being Christian and is directly geared towards holiness. The religious, like every Christian, must place himself in the fundamental "ex-centrism" of Jesus: to give others fullness of life. Thus is overcome the supposed autonomy of the religious life and its theology (privileges!), as well as a sacral concept (the religious life does not bring to God as if ex opere operato). Also the tendency of religious life to be closed within itself is overcome, pushing it instead directly and radically to the saving mission of Jesus; a certain "essentialism" of the religious life, as this was already established in itself before his historicization. The radicalness of the following of Christ consists in seeking to more effectively reproduce the mission of Jesus or some of its aspects. Meanwhile, the religious is a Christian within the riverbed of life that has the capacity to give meaning more radically to the following of Jesus and which historically allows to achieve it with radicality. A successful religious life is that which brings to reality what it signifies" (cf. Jon Sobrino, Vida religiosa, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 1462ff). (come back to text)

94 "The strong dynamism which always characterized the Founder’s life must also characterize our vocation. And by the fact that our specific apostolic activity concretizes the general end of our Congregation thus conferring on it a precise identity, such interior dynamism must imprint and orient: a) the concrete practice of our spiritual and communitarian life...; b) the sector of spiritual, intellectual and professional formation with all the consequent distinctions... and updating which, from case to case, may be considered necessary; c) the structures of government and administration of goods... Meanwhile, the coordination of individual sectors of the same government regarding the movement of persons, financial and economic operations, etc., must overcome the provincial and regional limits, when this, in the judgment of the General Government, is considered necessary" (Chap. Doc. 1969-1971, no. 70). (come back to text)

95 These "updating" acts were progressive; for example, Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, in his Diary (op. cit., 285, dated 1 Sept. 1919), listing the devotions of the first week, does not mention anything for Sunday, and also he does not take note yet of the specific devotion to the Divine Master. (come back to text)

96 The idea is better clarified on other occasions: "In the Pauline practices of piety, aside from integral formation of the person, the social integration of one’s self in the apostolate, that is, the magisterium is aimed at. That is, one aims at locating one’s self ever more ‘in consortio veri Magistri,’ in order to clearly assume the form and transmit it more clearly to men" (UPS II, 12). (come back to text)

97 We are in the context of the chapter entitled "Things to achieve," where the much-desired "unification of sciences" in the Divine Master is augured. All the formation efforts must be aimed at mission: "Studies are to be oriented towards this ministry [editorial, of the apostolate]... It is necessary that all students must learn, aside from editorial, also the technical aspects, diffusion, administration... Other than an individual work, it is necessary that all learn the progress and the organization of the apostolate" (SP December 1953; cf. CISP 1091). (come back to text)

98 With this apostolic setup, Fr. Alberione practically overcomes the concept that existed at the time, and approaches that which would be an acquired heritage after the openings of Vatican II: "...The starting point of Trent and of Vatican II differ... as regards the theology of the ordained minister in the Church. While Trent starts with the Eucharistic Celebration, Vatican II starts with the mission (PO c. 1). It refers to the mission of Christ, which is extended in the apostles and in their successors, the bishops, and has followed and is extended through the presbyters, the bishops’ collaborators. In this manner, the vision and the theology of Vatican II regarding the priestly ministry expands and extends in a profoundly evangelical sense: the priesthood is no longer only or principally the man of worship or of the altar, but is configured and defined by the threefold function wherein the Christian mission is qualified: the prophetic role (on the word), the role in worship (on the eucharist) and the pastoral role (on the people of God). On the other hand, the priest is no longer the center of the Church: the center is the people of God as a whole; in this manner the role of protagonist is restored to the lay persons who recover their essential role in the workings of the Church" (cf. José Ma. Castillo, Orden sacerdotal, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 922). (come back to text)

99 In another passage (ibid., 168-169) the same concept is more clearly explained: "We speak of twofold study: docendi and discendi. It involves one’s whole life... Studies have for their end, or else, double end: to perfect the gift of nature, intelligence, and to prepare one’s self for the mission entrusted by God. ... The task studies then: the intellectual part and the technical part. The technical part, for the Pauline, is equal to the tongue of the orator and of the teacher." (come back to text)

100 The Founder was a born and convinced organizer, and he always insisted on this point: "Today, more than in the past, organization matters, especially the international one, in every sector; in a special manner in the apostolate. Be more Catholic... be united in the different apostolates [as Pauline Family]. Understand and love one another...; help each other through prayers and collaboration. Personal egoisms destroy community life; social, political, family egoisms destroy even Institutes, or at least condemn them to sterility. Always the prayer of the Divine Master; ‘Ut unum sint!’ applied not to one institute alone, but live in the huge Pauline parish that, for its limits has only the boundaries of the world, and for its fold, both those already in the fold as well as those which need to be lead there" (UPS I, 382). (come back to text)

101 "Concentrating our reflection on the specific charism of our Founder, we must distinguish in it two successive moments having between them the relationship of end and means, or more precisely, of abstract intuition and concrete realization. We shall focus our attention first of all on the end [= end of the work, the apostolate or mission, the so-called ‘specific end,’ which has created the so-called ‘general end,’ according to the old terminology: cf. no. 36, note 1], and, in the second place, on the structural bases [= the religious institution] of the work founded by the Primo Maestro" (Chap. Doc., no. 47). (come back to text)

102 With renewed importance given to the laity, brought about at least intentionally by Vatican II, Fr. Alberione would have been able to move with greater freedom in the difficult field of apostolate. In our time "... the lay person is the Christian without other qualifiers; he does not need other definitions or nuances. What becomes a problem today – in today’s ecclesiology with its accent on communion – is the definition of the religious life and that of the ministries. The break between the doctrines of communion (widely diffused in theological works) and the institutions (rooted on a hierarchical model) is one of the causes of the current negative experience of the Church and of the negative experiences and resistance over which the evolution of the lay persons stumble within the Catholic Church. Canon Law itself "nominally" gives new importance to the lay people, however it has in itself some forms of "resistance" in assigning to them tasks still carried by the clergy: preaching – and one would say more especially that one made through the means of social communication – the teaching of theology, juridical offices, finances, diplomatic representation, etc." (cf. Juan Antonio Estrada, Clérigos-laicos, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 173f). (come back to text)

103 Community life is not therefore an end in itself, but in view of the apostolate: "The Pauline apostolate requires a strong group of editors, technicians, diffusers. All must work together as artists. who present a beautiful artwork, work together" (ibid., 288). (come back to text)

104 Fr. Alberione often has these summary concepts which later branch into analytical aspects; in effect, the phrase quoted above concludes: "Like a cart on four wheels: sanctity, study, Apostolate, poverty." It is difficult to establish a scale of values among the various aspects; if ever we need to reach a vital synthesis which includes and amalgamates all. (come back to text)

105 SP January 1955; cf. CISP 1086. (come back to text)

106 The Chap. Doc. of 1969-1971 (nos. 66-70) explain this strong focusing of Pauline life as fidelity to two characteristics of the foundation charism: great sensitivity in discovering, reading and interpreting the "signs of the times" and "strong dynamism" which the Founder adopted like a uniform. (come back to text)

107 Every apostle, in the footsteps of Jesus, the Apostle par excellence, is sent by God for the salvation of men; this implies a two-fold relationship: with Him who sends and with those to whom he is sent; that is, the apostle is sent by Someone and to someone: he is an active mediator (cf. C. Floristán, Evangelización in Conceptos..., op. cit., 643). (come back to text)

108 Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris missio (7 Dec. 1990) takes up again this same point: "Jesus himself is the ‘Good News,’ as he declares at the very beginning of his mission in the synagogue of Nazareth, when he applies to himself the words of Isaiah about the Anointed One sent by the Spirit of the Lord (cf. Lk 4:14-21). Since the ‘Good News’ is Christ, there is an identity between the message and the messenger, between saying, doing and being. His power, the secret of the effectiveness of his actions, lies in his total identification with the message he announces: he proclaims the 'Good News' not just by what he says or does, but by what he is" (no. 13). Such is the paradigm of every evangelizer. As a consequence, evangelization is prior to the Church because the Church is of the Gospel and is at the Gospel’s service. On the other hand, it is not possible to evangelize without the Church. She is credible not only when her way of life is evangelical, but also when she evangelizes; holiness of doctrine or of the sacraments is not enough, proclamation is absolutely necessary (cf. C. Floristán, op. cit., 470). (come back to text)

109 In other words, the missionary nature of the Church is founded on the "missions" which is had in the Holy Trinity. No one would dare say that these "missions" are opposed to the intimate being of God; in fact, they belong to His constitutive essence: the immanent Trinity (the way the Trinity is, ontologically or "ad intra") is the same economical Trinity (the way He allows it to be known, historical or "ad extra"); cf. Bruno Forte, Trinità come storia, 19853, chap. I; J. Moltmann, Trinidad y Reino de Dios, 1983, 175-178. (come back to text)

110 Vatican II tried to give an answer to this question in the constitutions Lumen gentium (no. 1), Sacrosanctum Concilium (no. 1), Gaudium et spes (no. 40), and indirectly in all other council documents. (come back to text)

111 Said in another manner, the Church is in view of the world: "... The distinction by Cardinal Suenes between the Church ad intra and the Church ad extra gave origin to the constitution Gaudium et Spes, which reflects a new Christian attitude before the world. By the fact the Church is sacrament, she does not exist for her own self but for the world, with the end in view of transforming it into God’s kingdom. In the end, the Church can not be understood by herself, because she is at the service of two realities that transcend: the kingdom, end of God’s creation, freed from every sin and from death, penetrated by the divine and absolutely brought to reality; and the world, the place of the historical realization of the kingdom, that needs a process of liberation" (cf. C. Floristán, Iglesia, in Conceptos..., op. cit., 587-601). (come back to text)

112 The apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (8 Dec. ’75) develops this concept in more aspects: "Christ accomplished the proclamation of the kingdom of God through tireless proclamation of a word which finds no comparison anywhere... His words reveal God’s secret, his design and his promise and hence they transform the heart of man and his destiny" (no. 11; cf. also nos. 42, 78); "Contemporary man more willingly listens to the testimonies of teachers or, if he listens to teachers, he does it because they are witnesses" (no. 41; quoted in RF art. 107.1 note 121). "The good news must be above all proclaimed through testimony" (no. 21; cf. also no. 76). (come back to text)

113 "[The Church] is in fact urged by the Holy Spirit to cooperate in order that God’s plan be accomplished, a plan that has established Christ as principle of salvation for the whole world" (LG 17; cf. SC 5). (come back to text)

114 Regarding the Apostoline Sisters, but this is valuable to all, Fr. Alberione wrote: "The ideal of the Institute is synthesized in these formulas: ‘All Catholics, with all energies, with all means, for all vocations, for all apostolates. All the faithful for all the infidels; all the fervent for all the indifferent, all Catholics for all non-Catholics. All those called ‘faithful’ to their vocation; all holy priests and religious; all men ‘docile to the Church’ for their eternal salvation’" (AD 328). On these very broad horizons some ambitious projects of Fr. Alberione moved, for example, the magazine, ‘Via Verità e Vita,’ "which must address everyone..., consider the whole man, ... take everything under consideration... follow entirely the divine method of the Master Jesus..., to ask all the necessary help... to be translated and adapted to all languages..." (CISP 843); and other plans, unfortunately unrealized, like that of the magazine ‘Magisterium,’ wholly centered on Jesus Master (cf. ibid., 1238ff) or the Encyclopedia also on Jesus Master (cf. ibid., 1225ff). (come back to text)

115 At the background of this image, one could sense an echo from the Bible: "[The sons of men] are like yesterday which is past, like a watchman’s turn at night: [You, Lord] submerge them in sleep; they are like the grass growing: in the morning they grow and turn green, at night they are cut and dried" (Ps 90:4-6; cf. Ps 103:15-16). This rapid passage of human life renders the urgency of salvation dramatic. Also Paul pivots himself on the fugacity of things: "The image of this world passes away" (1 Cor 7:31). (come back to text)

116 SdC 232 [year 1961]; cf. Pensieri, 155 (come back to text)

117 The Chapter Documents 1969-1971 (no. 61) condense this attitude of apostolic zeal into four propositions: "If today we wanted to concisely formulate the original inspiration of our foundation, we could establish the following four points: a) In order that the world may believe in its Lord and Master (cf. GS 10), and the fullness of the mystery of Christ may save man in his integral vocation (cf. GS 11); b) a new missionary thrust is necessary in view of the proclamation of the message of salvation in the spirit of the Apostle Paul; c) Proclamation which can reach all men mainly through the instrument of social communication; d) utilized for the greater glory of God and peace to men, "whose future depends more and more each day on their proper use’ (IM 24)." (come back to text)

118 The passage deserves a careful analysis; the concept "apostolate" is presented both as part and as all, condensed and specified at the same time. (come back to text)

119 Along the line of 2 Cor 4:1-7, real paradox between human weakness and God’s power, we are necessary although limited mediators: there is no escape from the urgency of the mission. The Lord can reach men through other paths and with other means, but in fact he chose each one of us by giving us the responsibility of bringing his name ‘before the pagans, kings and sons of Israel" (Acts 9:15). At the beginning of the apostolic intuition of Fr. Alberione we find expressly the meaning of his own limitation and together the awareness of the call: "He had clear enough understanding of his own nothingness, and at the same time, he heard: Vobiscum sum, usque ad consummationem sæculi," in the Eucharist and that in Jesus Host one could draw light, nourishment, comfort, victory over evil" (AD 16) (come back to text)

120 SP May 1957; cf. CISP 165. (come back to text)

121 We ought not forget the combative tone Fr. Alberione lived: "[The talk regarded] the needs of the Church, of the new means of evil, of having to oppose press with press, organization with organization..." (AD 14; cf. Chap. Doc., nos. 49-51) commenting on that historical situation). (come back to text)

122 Regarding the temporal extension of the Apostolate of the Press, Fr. Alberione introduces the figure of "Mary, Queen of history" who dominates over time. She in fact "presided over God’s creative idea... in that Council of the Most Holy Trinity from where came the decree of power and of love for creation... Mary presides over the development of God’s plan [since the earthly paradise, then while sustaining Jesus, center of history, and while receiving the Holy Spirit]; finally, Mary shall preside over the consummation of the Council of God, because she shall eternally reign as Queen" (AS 44-47). (come back to text)

123 This concept of universalism is largely present also in the Chap. Doc. 1969-1971 (cf. nos. 59, 71-102, 237) and in the Constitutions and Directory (cf. arts. 8, 9, 12, 67, 69, 72.1-4, etc.). (come back to text)

124 AS 98. Regarding the overcoming of the opposition between "judgment" (or the law of talleon) and "generous life" (or love), as expression of God’s transcendence and the evangelical overcoming of the border between good and evil (Christ, the true Master, does not judge but offers salvation), cf. Pikaza, op. cit., 284-288. (come back to text)

125 HM II, 1, 79. And Fr. Alberione explains: "The Lord could assign you to many assignments, but I think that, having assigned you to the apostolate of the edition, he could not assign you to any better assignment. It... brings you very close to the mission accomplished by Jesus... you participate in the ministry of Jesus himself." Such closing of ranks is useful for the progressive identification of the Pauline with Christ Master: "Let us turn ourselves into God’s pen and mouth through Jesus Christ, our only Master" (SP 16 February 1936; cf. CISP 53), as part of the itinerary towards the "Mihi vivere Christus est." The apostolate constitutes then the benchmark of our response to the Lord, and hence of our fulfillment: "For the Paulines love for the apostolate is a positive sign; and at the same time a guarantee of perseverance" (UPS I, 118). (come back to text)

126 HM II, vol. I, 80. "As from a life source, everything is born of the Eucharistic Master. Thus was the Pauline Family born, thus it is nourished, thus it lives, thus it works, thus it is sanctified" (UPS III, 10). (come back to text)

127 HM I, vol. 5, 115. Fr. Alberione takes ample space on the motivations of this love, but he reaffirms: "There are persons who exercise more the apostolate of action, they are entirely absorbed in the apostolate. For you this is not just good, but it is a duty of your state of life" (ibid., 118). (come back to text)

128 AS 54-56. For a global vision of the various components of Pauline life strongly focused on mission, cf. R. Perino, Le ‘novissima verba’ di Don Giacomo Alberione sulla missione della Famiglia Paolina, in SP January 1982. Text of three homilies delivered on November 26, 27, 28, 1981 on the occasion of the X anniversary of the Founder’s death. (come back to text)

 

           Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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