Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Remembrance of Father James Alberione

Chapter delegates. Br. Al pictured directly above 3rd kneeling figure at Pope's left.

One of my earliest up-close experiences of Father Alberione was at the first General Chapter of the Society of St Paul in the spring of 1957. The Chapter would mark a certain coming-of-age of his maturing religious family. It would decidedly take it from a rudimentary adolescent stage to grown-up apostolic adulthood—spurred by the founder’s vibrant Paul-like faith, form and fire.    

The Chapter’s deliberations would take him from Founder to “Superior General”. And his charismatic leadership would now be situated in the great tradition of consecrated ingenuity in transmitting the Gospel to the generations of our age.

From the care and effort he made each morning explaining the essential  fundamentals of being Pauline, to forging an intelligent and indispensable heart/mind/will relationship with the living Christ, we were caught up in exciting vocational discovery, purpose, and challenge. 

Motivated within by Christ as Master, we had first to understand a God-given mission and its practical  approaches to today’s  cross sections of humanity. Like Paul, we aimed to meet this milling modern humanity where it was: in the pulsing and often bewildering marketplaces of today’s world. Soldiered on by Jesus, with competency of means and members, it was for us to become faith-bearing samaritans of his Way, Truth, and Life to the multitude of today’s  unknowing, wandering, and weary—”out there”—on countless digital and side-of-the-road lonely impasses.

Br. Aloysius offers deference to the new Superior General.
“The harvest is great.” The reach of preaching was not. For this, Father Alberione presented himself disposed to the Spirit’s guidance in recasting methods and means for effectively allowing the wisdom and power of Jesus’ message to make contact with a distraught epoch, its distant and yearning  humanity—now all within reach—and everywhere so very much in samaritan need.

Many have been the saints and right-minded men and women who have suffered and protested the awful human consequences of wrongdoing paraded as good: love and life squandered, a perishing sense of the sacred, the depreciated qualities of human worth and dignity, and, pitied most of all, the surrendered capacity of praising the Creator and intuiting Truth, Goodness, the Beautiful.

As Father Alberione himself summarized:
“a)  How much is Christian life practiced today in conformity with the Gospel? In what way is this life lived in the world today?  In what is it lacking?  What means are to be adopted for a valid purification and elevation in Jesus Christ, the Master? ‘Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’. ‘Learn of me’.  ‘I AM THE WAY.’  
“b)  How far has the doctrine of Jesus Christ been spread? With what acceptance and understanding? How has it been preserved in its wholeness and purity in the world? What are the means by which it can win all minds, mindful of the mandate of Jesus Christ, the Master, to the Church: ‘Teach all people’. ‘This is eternal life, that they may know the one, true God, and him alone whom he has sent, Jesus Christ’.  ‘I AM THE TRUTH’.
“c)   How and in what way do we pray in Christ and in the Church ‘in spirit and truth’? How and in what way are we fruitful in life and in grace as true children of God, as co-heirs of Jesus Christ? How can we better apply the words: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done’? What are the difficulties and application in actual practice? ‘Prayer must be made without ceasing’. ‘Whatever you ask the Father in my name, it will be given you’. ‘I AM THE LIFE’.”
On Christmas Eve 1947, Father Alberione issued a booklet of thirty brief meditations and prayers called “The Way of Humanity.” He proposed a review of the destiny of human beings—their “Way,” beginning with creation, then touching on revelation, Jesus’ life and ministry, the Church, eternal life, etc. Following are samples of these meditations in which the Founder proposes a theological expression (Truth), an invocation to assimilate the expression (Way), and a prayer (Life).

[1]
The Most Holy Trinity gathered in council, and issued the decree: “Let us make man in our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26).  In the plan of God, Mary is seen as the masterpiece of creation, the prime and final goal of all creation.
   My Lord, I am entirely the work of your omnipotent love.
   I adore you, my God, one in nature and triune in Persons.
   I thank you, because you have made me for the happiness which lies in you and for your eternal glory.
   Save me with your omnipotence!
Glory to God in the highest and peace to humanity!
Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us.   

[2]
After Jesus Christ finished teaching by example at Nazareth, he began the school  of the spoken word. On the Mount of the Beatitudes he outlined the way of peace and salvation, and revealed God to men and women, announcing the new law of love (cf. Lk: 4:14-30; 6:20-38).
   I adore and thank you, Divine Master, who declared yourself to be the Way and Truth and Life.
   I recognize you as the Way I must follow, the Truth I must believe, the Life which I must eagerly long for.   
   You are my all; and I want to be totally yours: mind, will, heart.
Glory to God in the highest and peace to humanity!
Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Apostles, have mercy on us.

                                                                             ****
Administrator’s note: One hundred years ago today the Pauline Family was founded. We join together in prayer, giving thanks to God for the good he has done through us and for his mercy in the face of our limitations. We ask for wisdom, courage, zeal, and joyful witness to Jesus Master  for ourselves and for every Pauline in the world, remembering in prayerful affection every Pauline, known and unknown to us, who has gone before us.
____
Brother Aloysius Milella entered the Society of St. Paul as a candidate for the Brotherhood on the feast of St. Paul, June 30, 1946, and pronounced first vows in September 1948. Following his perpetual profession in 1953, he was assigned to the staff of the SSP family monthly, Catholic Home Messenger, published in Canfield, OH, where he would be engaged in its editorial and production sectors for 14 years. He worked briefly as the province’s vocation director, before serving as a member of the congregation’s governing body in Rome for the next 17 years.  After returning to the States in 1986, he was involved in book center ministry and then in administration, guiding its day-to-day apostolic fortunes in various communities. After a period in Dearborn, MI, he returned to Staten Island in 2012.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

In two short days the Church will celebrate Mary’s Assumption into heaven, that marvelous event when “Mary was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (CCC 966). Mary’s assumption was a special gift from God. She had this unique privilege of bypassing the corruption of death, and going directly to heaven because she was sinless.

But what does this mystery of our faith say to us? What can we learn from it and try to incorporate into our lives? I believe that the Assumption of Mary has two particular lessons:

1)      That we have a mother and intercessor in heaven who prays for us!
2)       She gives us hope in eternal life, reminding us of our own goal, for she has already made it to the finish line!

Photo Credit: Margery Ketz/ Wikimedia Commons
      Mary as Our Mother and Intercessor
Most of us have either experienced the power and unconditional quality of a mother’s love ourselves or have witnessed it in another’s life. If we multiply this by a 100 or even 1000 times, I believe we can get a glimpse of Mary’s motherly love towards each one of us. For she is our heavenly Mother who awaits our prayers and requests. Did she not tell Juan Diego in 1531 on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City, “Do not let anything afflict you, and do not be afraid of any illness, or accident or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Do you need anything else?”

And in 1830 at Rue de Bac in Paris Mary explained to Catherine Laboure, a young novice with the Daughters of Charity, the meaning of her image on the Miraculous Medal, the medal that she wanted Catherine to have made: The words, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee” would be printed around the medal’s edge, honoring her Immaculate Conception; rays coming from her hands would symbolize the grace that comes through her motherly intercession and prayers. And when Catherine asked Mary about the stones on her fingers that had no rays of grace coming forth, Mary explained, “that’s all the grace I want to obtain for people, but no one asks me.” All we have to do for our Mother to help us, to intercede for us is to ask her! And so we pray, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”

Blessed Alberione shows us the power of Mary's intercession when he cites St. Anselm in his book, "Mary, Hope of the World," "St Anselm presents Mary as a merciful Mother" writes Alberione "who helps everyone who approaches her." ( p 15). She is our Mother who loves us all and notices our needs, just as she did at the wedding feast of Cana. So let us remember to ask for her help.

Mary Gives Us Hope in Eternal Life
Mary’s bodily presence in heaven near her Son also gives us great hope, hope in the gift of eternal life, hope in our own resurrection at the end of time. She goes before us to “save us a seat,” if you will. She points out to us our eternal destiny as her children who were bought at a great price: the price of her own Son’s death and resurrection. Let us believe in and accept him as our Lord and Savior, our Way, Truth, and Life (Jn. 14:6).

And so when life is difficult, even at times overwhelming, we can turn to Mary knowing that she listens, that she cares for us with immense love, and that she will obtain for us the grace that we need, if we but ask.

On this Feast of the Assumption we thank our Queen and Mother for her powerful prayers and for the hope that she brings to our lives: “Mary, assumed into heaven, pray for us! Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us!”

____________

Sr. Laura R. Brown has been a Daughter of St. Paul since 1985 and has been assigned to many FSP communities. Her current assignments in St. Louis, MO, include parish evangelization and outreach, as well as assistance with Pauline Book & Media Center events. She has an MA in theology and participated in the Pauline Charism Course in Rome from 2008 to 2009.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Setting Off Fireworks

With this article, we relaunch the blog of the Pauline Cooperators in North America! One of sixteen writers from six branches of the Pauline Family, including Cooperators themselves, will contribute a weekly article of formation and information to assist Cooperators in living their apostolic discipleship within their world, in imitation of St. Paul the Apostle.

In Redwood City the Daughters were really avant-garde. We had to be. After all, this was California! In 2007 our media techie, Sr. Domenica, scraped together some funds to buy a screen for our Pauline Books & Media Center, so we could show promo videos we made locally about our titles. They weren’t spit and polish, but they were attention grabbing. And people responded. 

So, when Michael Waldstein completed a new translation of the Wednesday General Audiences that Pope John Paul had delivered on his Theology of the Body, on-screen promotion was a given. Author George Weigel had once called the Pope’s series a “theological time bomb.” We knew we had published a monumental work in Man and Woman He Created Them, and we wanted to set off fireworks.

Perched atop a stool next to an instore display of the book, I told the camera that this was a must-have—challenging, but well worth the effort. Spontaneously, enthusiastically, to the camera’s utter delight, I described the features and read a passage or two. This was John Paul’s masterpiece: his Christian approach to anthropology, with unique insights into relationships and human sexuality, especially in connection with marriage. Since the presentation was unscripted, I hesitated at times, looking for the words that could do it justice. It didn’t take long, though, for me to hit my stride, and the finished product was presentable, if not professional. The camera, of course, agreed.

Soon after, our provincial superior and another sister were visiting from Boston. As they looked around the new PBM Center, they became engrossed in shelving, layout, and lighting. Sr. Margaret’s papal eloquence was soon ignored as white noise.

“And, if you’re like me and you’re not married, don’t despair!” Startled by my intensity, our two visitors spun around to face the screen. What on earth is Margaret saying now? Is she starting a dating service?

“It’s not that this doesn’t have anything to do with us,” I continued. “It does. There are at least fifty pages on what John Paul II calls ‘Continence for the Kingdom of Heaven.’” If you know what I mean.

If you don’t, allow me: It means that not even celibates miss out on the Theology of the Body. To live a healthy, integrated, and holy life, we’d better not! True, Man and Woman He Created Them is mostly about sexuality in marriage. One of its benefits, though, is its invitation also to those of us vowed to celibate chastity to understand the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of our sexuality in the light of God’s Word. As we do, we can esteem even more how it weaves into our relationships with God, our communities, our families and friends, and the people we serve…here and hereafter. This consecrated chastity then becomes the gift that not only God gives us, but that we give back to him and to the world in which we live. It’s a world that, even without realizing it, is waiting for just such a message.
 

This past July 9-11, seven hundred laity, clergy, and religious turned out to share that message at the annual Theology of the Body Congress in Philadelphia. Go to www.tobcongress.com for photos and news. Ascension Press is now selling CDs of the talks online. Paulines also lent a hand at the Congress, especially through the publications that first helped detonate such a “theological time bomb” over three decades ago.

Though a great event in its own right, the gathering served as a kind of dry run for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia in September 2015. Archbishop Chaput has invited Pope Francis. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Whether you’re a Pauline Cooperator or a consecrated member of the Pauline Family, John Paul’s Theology of the Body can spark something new in the way you see yourself and your relationships. Set off a Roman candle of your own from Pauline Books & Media


OK, here it is—the nine-minute video now on YouTube. What ideas do you think John Paul might have for you or someone you know? 




Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP, originally from San Francisco, has been a Pauline evangelizer since 1973 and has worked in various phases of the mission of the Daughters of St. Paul. Since attending the nine-month Charism Course in Rome in 2012-2013, she is now based in Boston, where she serves on the provincial Cooperator Team in the area of ongoing formation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pauline Cooperators Preparing for a Retreat with Brother Who Knew Blessed James Alberione

Annual Pauline Cooperator Retreat

     Across the USA and Canada the Pauline Cooperators, and others interested in seeing what the Association is all about, are welcome to the annual retreat. It will be held in various locations, especially where there is a Pauline center. Brother Aloysius Millela is our director this year. Some locations will receive a pre-recorded DVD of his presentations. click on the brochure to find out more about Brother Al. He will be "live" in Boston at the retreat house.
     St. Thecla's retreat house is reserved for September 19, 20 and 21st for the East Coast retreatants. Anyone is welcome from across the States and Canada. If you are coming to the East Coast retreat contact Sr. Mary Lea, as found on this brochure. If you desire to attend at another location contact the Pauline Center in your area. Blessings!
Please note: email is Lhill not Mhill

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Paulines Sponsor Film Festival, Pauline Cooperator Directs

Cana Film Festival members, with
Winifred Loh, festival director, seated in the center.
Credit: Cana Film Festival.
Paulines sponsored a Catholic Film Festival in Singapore. Winifred Loh, a Pauline Cooperator, was the festival director. The Cana Film Festival  was a first time gathering of filmmakers and viewers  reflecting together on the Church's social mission through the medium of film.