Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Legion Of Souls Working In Tandem 

Group photo taken at Pauline Convention 2016
 Last month I joined the Daughters of St Paul (DSP), members of the Pauline laity, and one Pauline priest in resuming the annual national convention of the Association of Pauline Cooperators. Five years had passed since our last convention. Why had it been so long in between? Who knows? Life happens. I just know it felt good to be together again. I saw old faces and met new ones. Several writers who contribute to this blog were there, giving me the pleasure of meeting for the first time in the flesh. It was good to be together for prayer, Eucharist, and fellowship. And a special treat? My two sisters (siblings, not DSP) joined us as guests.

photo from SSP Centenary showing several Pauline family branches
One theme of the convention was that the entire Pauline Family -- priests, consecrated religious, laity  -- is "a legion of souls working in tandem" (Fr Jeffrey Mickler, SSP.)  A link to Fr Jeffrey Mickler's talk can be found here.  Blessed Alberione, in his lifetime, was prescient in championing the work of the laity in evangelizing the world. He presented Jesus Way, Truth and Life as the perfect model for ALL men and women, not just for priests and religious. He founded four religious orders, five secular institutes, and an association of lay cooperators in order to provide a place in his Pauline Family for EVERY person who felt the call to discipleship. He likened us to the seventy-two disciples the Lord sent out during His lifetime, and to the men and women in the 1st-century Christian communities who collaborated with St Paul.

What a vision, both inspiring and daunting! When I came home, I felt inspired to dig into the Founder's teachings more closely. As Blessed Alberione explains it, the Incarnation makes it possible for every one of us to imitate the perfect One who is not just divine but fully and perfectly human:

"Jesus Christ, apostle of the Father, was first of all the perfect man: 'perfectus homo.' This concept of 'perfect man' not only implies that He had a rational soul and an organic body, but signifies perfect order in His faculties. On the one hand they were in harmony with God; on the other, in harmony with reason.... He was the perfect child of the family, the perfect boy, the perfect young man, the perfect worker, the perfect citizen, the perfect subject, the perfect king. He was perfect at home, perfect in society, in dealing with others, in prayer, in solitude. His prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance were perfect. He was perfect in learning as a disciple and perfect in teaching as a master, perfect in seeking the glory of God and the salvation of man as an apostle. " (Carissimi in San Paolo (CISP), 755)

Gulp. Suddenly I become worried. Perfect man, perfect child, perfect boy? Perfect in learning, perfect
in teaching? How can I ever hope to follow Christ? How can I take him as my model?! I don't know about you, but the idea of perfection can be intimidating. Yes, I DO become enthusiastic when I read the stirring words of Blessed Alberione -- the call to arms, the zeal for the apostolate of social communication, the thrilling challenge of becoming St Pauls for the modern world. Dear Lord, how I aspire to that! How I long to spend myself in an authentic imitation of my divine and lovable Savior. How I long to turn friends, family, and even strangers on to the blessings and mercy of our amazing Triune God! Oh if only people would give Jesus a chance, would take Him at His word and trust Him!

But I know that I will fall down on the job. I know that even though my heart is full of love as I write these words, tomorrow will be different . I will lose my enthusiasm. I will wander away. I will binge on television, popcorn and beer. I will forget what the weekend has prompted in me. Not just once or twice, but over and over again.


Quick, can I find a remedy to this dark knowledge? I scan my notes from the convention. There they are! Some lines I jotted down from the talks:

"Worry always comes from the devil."

And also, "Armageddon took place on Calvary, and evil lost!"

And again, "The mercy and forgiveness of the Lord is without bounds."

Well, okay then. Whew. Bad as I am, I can strive for perfection with the best of them. I can join the priests and the consecrated religious of the Pauline Family in that legion of souls working in tandem.  Woman that I am, I can heed the words of Blessed Alberione: "God the Creator's designs for women, confirmed by God the Redeemer, have been elaborated and realized through a winding history of anguish, obstacles, and small and great heroism." I can strive to be the Founder's picture of the whole woman: "... a person who is cultured but not at the expense of spiritual values; at home in the family and in society; one who can make an effective contribution in civil and religious undertakings; a being who can so give herself to God as to belong to Him totally, and also belong to man so as to complete him." (CISP 1272, 1273.)

What, me worry? No, no and a resounding no. Get thee behind me, Satan. I'm with Alberione!


Rae Stabosz has been a member of the Association of Pauline Cooperators since 2003. She and Bill Stabosz, her husband of 46 years, have six sons, three daughters, nine grandsons and seven granddaughters; they eagerly await the birth of grand #17. Rae retired in 2007 from the University of Delaware, where she was a technology and media specialist for 27 years. She is co-founder and past president of The Society of Catholic Scholars of Delaware and proprietor, since 2004, of the Pious Ladies Bookmobile.

No comments: