“One night at adoration the Lord made us understand that with the start of the new century it was necessary to establish our life on the Eucharist and on activity”. Thus said Fr. Alberione in 1952, in a meditation given to the Daughters of St. Paul.
An intense and captivating spiritual event had conferred in his life, a decisive impression. And Fr. Alberione was becoming aware of his mission: at first generic “to prepare himself to do something for the Lord and for the men of the new century with whom he would live” (AD 15); then the ever more evident awareness of being called and sent by God “to serve the Church, the men of the new century and work with others”. (AD 20). Until the understanding that this mission that involves others – many others in the “wonderful Pauline Family” –, which is “to live and give to the world Jesus Christ Way, Truth and Life”, by means of the press and all the instruments of communication that progress would have gradually offer mankind.
That “half-blind who is being guided; (he would say) and as he moves along is enlightened from time to time” (AD 202) does not understand everything and immediately: there is a progressive maturation in him, an interior waiting, an availability to the signs of the times to which he always pays much attention. Because it is God who guides, it is God who opens the paths: for us it’s enough to watch in peace (cf AD 43-44).
That “founding” light will accompany the entire journey of Fr. Alberione, will nourish his “passion” for God and for humanity, will make him a great contemplative and a man of enterprising and bold action, because “love, true love, is inventive. When you have fire in your heart you find many initiatives and things to do. True love is that which shows itself in the hard work of everyday for the apostolate: it makes us think, organize, run” (Haec meditare II/8, p.182).
At the end of his life, Fr. Alberione will be able to say: “I have followed the work of the Apostolate from 1914 to 1968, aided by divine grace. Now I have come to 84 years of my life that is closing in time and is passing into eternity; every hour I say the prayers of faith, hope and love for God and for souls. All united in eternal joy”.
The basic secret of the spiritual-apostolic dynamism that had given a face to the prophecy of Fr. Alberione lay undoubtedly in his personal and vital encounter with the Master, renewed everyday, his only and constant reference as far as his being and operation are concerned. Because the apostle “emanates God from all his pores: by means of his words, prayers, gestures, behavior; in public or in private; from his whole being. To live of God! And to give God!” (UPS, IV, p. 278).
But we cannot leave out here those that were the other “pillars” that characterized his apostolic mindset and like that “secret”, evidence the identity of every Pauline apostle:
Attention to history. As a great fan of history, an acute reader and interpreter of every event in the light of the plan of God and of the Gospel, impassioned researcher of the “new” that the Spirit continually makes sprout, Fr. Alberione looked at the society of his time with love and empathy and, according to the Eucharistic style learned at the school of the Master, has said a word of blessing on the humanity of his days so full of the kernels of the Word; he has “embodied” himself in the most concrete and problematic situations; has given attention to those “poor in heavenly wisdom” as as to the youth, the agents of culture, the believers, and those far from the faith...; has spoken with the languages his contemporaries are familiar with.
Universality and integrality. The term that synthesizes this fundamental characteristic of the Alberionian apostolic mindset is the so-called “tuttismo” (everything-ism, whole-ism), as what the Founder wrote in his autobiography truly demonstrates: “The Family has a large path towards the whole world in all the apostolate: studies, apostolate, piety, action, editions. Editions for all the categories of persons; all questions and facts judged in the light of the Gospel; the aspirations: those of the Heart of Jesus in the Mass; in the only apostolate: “to make Jesus Christ known”, to enlighten and support every apostolate and every good work; to carry in your heart all peoples; to let the presence of the Church be felt in every problem; spirit of adaptation and understanding for all public and private needs; the totality of cult, law, the combining of justice and charity” (AD 65). From here comes the need to assume pastorally the concrete situation wherein one lives and operates; from here the need to open oneself ever more to the needs of communication and its instruments, and to enter in dialog with cultures and religions.
Pastorality, as constant attention to the recipients of the apostolate, expressed in the formulation of contents, in technical work and in diffusion, by means of which the Word arrives directly into the heart of every person: “For all and for each one [the Institute] must provide the bread of the spirit, breaking it widely and adapting it to the needs of the individual” (UPS, III, pp. 133ff.). From here the agonizing thought of reaching “all men”.
Ecclesiality, because the same vocation of Fr. Alberione is “in Christ and in the Church” (AD 3), and because he never felt himself as an “independent batter” of the Christian message. Rather, he lived with awareness and responsibility he being part of the Church, in fidelity to the Magisterium and conscious of participating in the Church’s work of evangelization by means of an apostolate that was undeveloped as yet, using the fastest and most efficacious means of communication.
Paulinity. The nagging cry of Paul: “Woe to me if I don’t preach the Gospel” (1Cor 9,16) expresses itself well in “he felt obliged to prepare himself to do something for the Lord and for the men of the new century with whom he would live” (AD 15). It’s almost to show that perfect harmony that Fr. Alberione always lived as the Apostle of the Gentiles who he considered as father and model and even as a “form” of our being disciples and apostles. The Pauline apostle has, in fact, the missionary daring of Paul, his universal horizons and his capability to adapt: “The apostle must learn from his model the art of “making himself all to all” and have that elasticity of adaptation whereby he can deal with all according to their physical, intellectual, moral, religious and civil conditions” (Apostolato delle edizioni, p. 59).
Sr. Anna Caiazza, fsp
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