Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Icons of Holiness

This week, which is located on this year's Church Calendar midway between the end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Lent, provides us with beautiful spiritual images to contemplate. These images are in the form of the lives of the saints we celebrate this week, including Saint Francis de Sales on January 24th, Saints Timothy and Titus on January 26th (January 24th in some localities), and Thomas Aquinas on January 28th. In addition, the Pauline calendar commemorates the death of Blessed Timothy Giaccardo on January 24th. Theirs were lives of faith, courage, service and generosity, and they stand as great icons of spirituality to teach and inspire us.

In this meditation, we will take a comparative look at the lives of Saint Timothy of the first century and Blessed Timothy of the twentieth century. Although they lived in two very different eras, perhaps you will find some surprising details about the parallels between the life journeys of Saint Timothy and Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, and their relationships with their respective mentors, Saint Paul and Blessed James Alberione.

The lives of Saints Timothy and Titus and of Blessed Timothy Giaccardo provide especially relevant icons of holiness for members of the Pauline Family. Timothy and Titus were protégés of Saint Paul, and they eventually became trusted co-workers and missionaries for Saint Paul. Saint Timothy travelled for Saint Paul to a number of his beloved communities of new converts. He often had sensitive and potentially explosive issues to resolve, and helped many communities of Paul’s converts to survive those early days of challenge and, sometimes, turmoil.

Saint Timothy’s challenges in the ancient pagan world were not unlike the tasks and challenges faced two millennia later by his namesake, Father Timothy Giaccardo, as he worked to evangelize the people of the increasingly secular world of the early 20th century. The future Father Timothy's vocation and apostolate began early, and Saint Timothy became an important model for him. Just as Saint Timothy was a trusted companion and co-worker to the great Apostle Saint Paul, Father Timothy humbly and obediently worked to be a diligent and devoted co-worker to Blessed James Alberione.

Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, ssp
Timothy Giaccardo, born Joseph Timothy Giaccardo, took Saint Timothy as his namesake. Formation for his apostolate began in his early teen years. Young Joseph Timothy was only 12 years old when he first met Fr. Alberione. Because the young boy was interested in becoming a priest and displayed well-developed spiritual and personal virtues, Father Alberione invited him to attend the seminary. And so, there began over a decade of formation for this young man who would become not only a protégé but also a trusted collaborator for the Founder of the Pauline Family. Just as Saint Paul sent Saint Timothy to represent him in many important matters, Father Alberione would invest young Father Giaccardo with the highest levels of responsibilities in various tasks and projects.

Nine years after he began his studies, at the age 21 years, Joseph Timothy was admitted to the Society of Saint Paul. He took Saint Timothy as his model and namesake. Two years later, on October 19, 1919, Timothy was ordained a priest. His ordination was the first among the early members of the Society of Saint Paul. He also was the first Beatified member of the Pauline Family, by Pope John Paul II in 1989. Eventually, the day of his ordination, October 19th, was chosen as the day of his official Memorial on the Church Calendar.

Blessed Alberione & Blessed Giaccardo
But, now let us get back to the story of Blessed Timothy’s developing apostolate. Over the succeeding years, Father Alberione entrusted more and more responsibilities to young Father Giaccardo. Eventually, Father Alberione would appoint Father Giaccardo as his Vicar General and would entrust him with a number of key assignments and missions, not the least of which was the foundation of the contemplative congregation, the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master.

This was one task to which Father Timothy became particularly dedicated. At first, in 1928, Father Alberione’s request for approval of the foundation was rejected by the Holy See, which did not understand the need for a congregation, apart from the Daughters of Saint Paul, wholly for the purpose of contemplative prayer in support of the efforts of the Pauline Family. Father Alberione responded to the rejection by assigning communication with the Holy See to Father Giaccardo.

The task would be a delicate “diplomatic” effort which would take two decades of effort before the Holy See finally approved the foundation. His great dedication to the project was evidenced by his offering his life as a prayer intention asking that the Spirit guide the Holy See to approve the foundation. Perhaps it was no coincidence that the approval came through just days before Father Giaccardo’s death in 1948. He was only 51 years of age when he died. His last mass was a Mass of Thanksgiving for the members of the newly-approved Pious Disciples of the Divine Master. Twelve days later, he died and departed from his work “in the fields” to join Saint Timothy in a new role as an intercessor for the Pauline Family.

Blessed Timothy, pray for us, that we may receive rich and abundant 
 Lenten graces in the coming weeks.

Marie-Louise Handal has been a Pauline Cooperator for the past decade. She holds a Master’s Degree from St. Joseph’s Seminary, an M.S. in the Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and is a candidate for the S.T.L. from the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton. She also holds a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the New York Archdiocesan Center for Spiritual Development. Her professional work experience encompasses 20 years in international banking and finance, followed by a second career as a mathematics educator in Manhattan. Marie-Louise is a native New Yorker, born and raised in New York City.


Association of Pauline Cooperators said...

Thank you for this presentation of the two Timothys. Blessed Timothy has always inspired me. We finally put a very large photo of him in the Pauline Cooperator Office in Boston.
Sr Margaret Charles

Rae Stabosz said...

Good article, very informative! I also enjoyed the comparisons of the two. And I did not know that Blessed Alberione appointed Blessed Timothy to handle the diplomacy with Rome for the Pious Disciples and especially i didn't know it took two decades. Good persistence, Blessed Timothy!