Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pauline Devotion to Jesus, Divine Master! It is about Receiving from Him Everything, and Giving to Him Everything

You might say the Pauline Family life has one mission, one goal: To find everything in Jesus and to give everything to Jesus! Blessed James Alberione knew this and tried to live this. And so, he wanted those who would walk in his path to know this and strive to live it. It is about being formed in Christ until we can say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

Jesus has always demanded one’s all in following Him. No exception! When Jesus along the Sea of Galilee called Peter, Andrew, James and John, they had to lay down their nets and their former ways of life if they were truly to be his disciples. When Paul encountered the light of Christ on the road to Damascus there was nothing fractional in that call. If Paul was to be willing to bear much fruit for the Kingdom and bear Jesus’ name before Gentiles, Kings, and children of Israel, then he had to give everything. Yes, Jesus demands everything from his followers. The good news is that when Jesus demands everything, He has already given us everything. When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Pope Benedict XVI said, “Open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.”

Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Pauline family, exhorted his disciples to devotion to Jesus, the Divine Master. His Christology has as its center and heart, the “total Christ”. He wanted the Pauline family, like St. Paul, to know the Divine Master in His entirety. Alberione understood the Divine Master as the one who gives Himself completely for us. He is the creator, the teacher, the doctor, the sure refuge, the light, the true friend, the consoler, and the shepherd. His complete commitment might be summed up in his own words, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” For Alberione, a person’s response to the total donation from God can only be a devotion or more appropriately a consecration, integral of our whole self, our thoughts, our affections and our actions that make His mind, heart and will our own. Our strength is being in Him from whom all strengths come. I quote St. Paul again who says, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” Alberione had experienced the incarnation of Jesus in his own life and he had heard the voice of Christ beckon him, “Come to Me all of you (Abundantes Divitiae, n. 13)!" Alberione understood that Jesus had given him everything, and that love demanded a total self-giving in return. For him, it meant to live in Him, through Him, with Him and from Him (AD, n. 22 and 160). You can say for Alberione, “God became his everything!”

On New Year’s Eve 1900, the Night Between the Centuries, James Alberione at just sixteen years old gathered with the seminarians of Alba at the Cathedral for all-night Eucharistic adoration. He stayed in silent prayer for four hours meditating upon the invitation Pope Leo XIII had made just a couple of months earlier in his encyclical Tametsi Futura, “to pray for the century just beginning.” Earlier in the year, young James had been dismissed from the diocesan seminary of Bra perhaps for his eagerness to read books that were not on the list of his Superiors. Nevertheless, due to the kind intervention of his parish priest, James was readmitted to the seminary of Alba and was, therefore, eager to re-focus his studies, piety, thoughts, and behavior. In a sense, James had become a prime vessel for God’s “invasion of grace”; that moment when God breaks into the bleakness of our state with a light that shines in the darkness. And break through God did! On that “memorable night of prayer”, the young seminarian had an encounter with Jesus that changed his life forever.  He described this encounter as “particular enlightenment that came from the host and a greater understanding of the invitation of Jesus, “Come to Me, all of you!” Mindful of his own weaknesses and former failures, he experienced in these words the profound and unconditional love of God for him and the beauty of His mercy and grace. He also understood in this invitation, the urgency of the Church’s mission. And although he was quite aware of his own littleness and inability to carry out this mission, he knew God would be his strength. Again, Jesus’ call had nothing partial about it. He was prepared to give young James everything for the mission and he was asking for everything in return.

From that encounter with Christ, Alberione, like a pencil in God’s hand, began to form the Pauline mission, because we first trust in the always victorious total self-giving of God. And when we respond, it is with the totality of our lives - each relationship, each task, each opportunity, each problem, each success and each failure - the offering of our everyday lives to God. Everything is born, as from the spring of life, from the Eucharist, the total donation of living, from the Divine Master. Pauline Family members accomplish their call or mission when “they have brought to realization their life of faith for the welfare of the whole Church, not only with doing, living, but also, like the Divine Master, with giving their life, which is the apex of love” (Caterina Martini, FSP, International Seminar Arricia).

Over 70 years later as he neared the end of his earthly journey, Father Alberione’s secret behind his multiform activities was his interior life with which he achieved the total adherence to the Will of God and accomplished in himself the words of the Apostle Paul: "My life is Christ." Pauline family members today can expect to receive everything from Christ and must in return give everything back to Him. Consecration to Jesus Divine Master means that we can respond to the urgency and the staggering mission of today’s Church, mindful of our own weaknesses, littleness, and inner poverty.


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Fr. Michael Harrington is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and a member of the Pauline Institute of Jesus the Priest. An economics and political science major, he worked in finance for five years, before entering the seminary in 1994. He was ordained in 2000 and has since served the Church as parochial vicar, state chaplain to the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus, and for the past several years, assistant director of the Office of Vocations and director of the Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity. Fr. Michael made his final profession of vows in the Institute of Jesus the Priest on November 8, 2015.

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