On important feasts of the Church or the congregation, our Mother General Sr. Anna Maria Parenzan writes a letter to all the sisters and I wanted to share this one with you all. This letter was written for the feast of St. Bernard August 20th, which is the Anniversary of the Foundation of the Pauline Family. It was on this day that the Society of St. Paul was founded (priests and brothers), with the Daughters of St. Paul being founded a year later in 1915. The other institutes of the Pauline Family were begun in the years that followed.
Sr. Anna Maria begins her letter recalling the beautiful days of World Youth Day which we have just lived as a Church. “We still carry in our hearts a picture of the thousands of hands joined together as dusk fell on the Campus Misericordiae (Field of Mercy) in Krakow, Poland–the most beautiful and meaningful image of World Youth Day, chosen by Pope Francis as the setting from which to launch his message of peace, reconciliation and love at this very difficult moment in human history. In fact, it seems that in these days more and more space is being given to every kind of violence, to frequent and sudden terrorist attacks, to the mass migration of peoples: phenomena to which we cannot and must not remain indifferent….”
Even though these days so marked by violence can shake our faith and our courage, as Paulines we were founded in a similar period of world history, precisely on the eve of the First World War. Our Founder Blessed James Alberione shows us how to live through these turbulent times, and we have numerous stories of the heroic courage and self-offering of our first brothers and sisters. She continues, “It is truly a challenging time–one that can be compared to the period of ‘serious upheaval’ (cf. AD 48) during which, with extraordinary faith, our Founder laid the foundations for what would become the Pauline Family. The date was August 1914, the eve of a horrendous world war. But for the Pauline Congregations, tragic moments such as this have also been occasions for growth in faith, in reciprocal communion, in a spirit of atonement, in a more conscious apostolic participation ‘in the many sufferings of the world’ (VPC 66).”
Sr. Anna Maria Parenzan invites all of us to live today with the faith of the first sons and daughters of St. Paul, but to live with a response precisely to the problems that plague our own society. “Today too, the response to the darkness that surrounds us is faith and a reinvigorated witness to communion. Let us ask ourselves: ‘How can we, all together, try to conquer evil with good? How can we make our voice heard in this time in which millions of our brothers and sisters are suffering?’ The Pope reminded us that ‘our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brotherhood, its name is communion, its name is family.’”
We Daughters of St. Paul look at every situation in the world through the lens of communications. How is the use of communications playing a part in the rise and perpetuation of violence and terror today? Where is there need for reparation? For wisdom? For communion? And where is there need for our personal conversion so that we can become channels of grace and solidarity in today’s world? The prayer that summarizes this is a prayer we call the Pauline Offertory. At the end of this article is printed a version of the Pauline Offertory from the small volume Live Christ! Give Christ! A Prayerbook for the New Evangelization.
Mother General encourages all of us to take this personal step to conversion this August 20th.
“As a community, let us reflect together on what our response should be today and dedicate the day of 20 August to prayer in a spirit of atonement, focusing above all on the intentions in the Pauline Offertory. Experts have said that ‘a specific feature of terrorism is that it is a communications phenomenon.’ We have a tremendous responsibility to pray that communications will offer people increased opportunities to meet one another and manifest solidary in our divided and war-torn world. And since our 230 FSP communities extend from the Far East to the Far West, from Australia and Papua New Guinea to Hawaii, we are assured of 24 hours of uninterrupted prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist. Let us spend the day in active and heartfelt mercy toward one another, putting into practice the invitation of the Apostle Paul:
Let no offensive talk pass your lips, only what is good and helpful to the occasion, so that it brings a blessing to those who hear it. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, for that Spirit is the seal with which you were marked for the day of final liberation. Have done with all spite and bad temper, with rage, insults and slander, with evil of any kind. Be generous to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you (Eph. 4:29ff.).
“So then: let us observe a day dedicated to ‘building bridges,’ to ‘holding hands’ with one another, to spreading mercy, love, communion and tenderness first of all in our own communities and from there outward to the broader communities of the Congregation, the Pauline Family, the world….”
Sr. Anna Maria Parenzan, Superior General
Won't you join us in prayer August 20th? Below is the prayer that Sr. Anna Maria refers to:
A Eucharistic Offertory for the Media (Pauline Offertory)
in union with all those celebrating the Eucharist throughout the world,
I wish to unite myself with the heart and intentions of your beloved Son, Jesus,
who offered his life for our salvation:
—that the media may always be used to support the good of each person and the common good; to uplift the sacred dignity of every human person, especially those who are poor and most vulnerable; to nurture marriage and family life; to bring about solidarity, peace, greater justice, and equality for all people; and to build respect for the gifts of God’s creation;
—in reparation for the errors and scandals spread throughout the world through the misuse of the media;
—to call down your mercy upon those who have been deceived or manipulated by the misuse of the media, and led away from your fatherly love;
—for the conversion of those who have spread error, violence, or a disregard for the dignity of the person by wrongly using the media and rejecting the teaching of Christ and his Church;
—that we may follow Christ alone whom you, Father, in your boundless love sent into the world, saying, “This is my beloved Son, hear him”;
—to acknowledge and to make known that Jesus alone, the Word Incarnate, is the perfect Teacher, the trustworthy Way who leads to knowledge of you, Father, and to a participation in your very life;
—that in the Church the number of priests, religious, and lay people who are dedicated as apostles of the media will increase in number and grow in holiness, making resound throughout the world the message of salvation;
—that all those who work in the media with good will (writers, artists, directors, editors, technicians, producers, advertisers, and distributors) may grow in wisdom and uprightness, living and spreading worthy human and Christian values;
—that the undertakings of Catholics in all forms of media may continually increase, so that by more effectively promoting genuine human and Christian values, they will silence the voices that spread error and evil;
—that well aware of our inadequacy and unworthiness, we may recognize our need to draw near the font of life with great humility and trust and be nourished with your Word, Father, and with the Body of Christ, invoking light, love, and mercy for all men and women.
Based on a prayer of Blessed James Alberione