This is part 7 of a nine part series of meditations on the Word of God with reflections from the writings of Venerable Mother Thecla Merlo and Blessed James Alberione.
Mother Thecla lived her apostolic Pauline vocation in a spirit of exultation: “I am extremely happy in my vocation. I wish I had a thousand lives so that I could dedicate them all to this noble apostolate, in spite of the many vexations and difficulties” (Letter to her brother, in 1947). She lived her vocation with the generosity of St. Paul and the depth and self-donation of Mary, who went in haste to visit Elizabeth and preserved in her heart the Word she announced.
Meditating the Words of St. Paul
If I (preached the Gospel) on my own initiative I would deserve a reward; but if I do it under compulsion I am simply accepting a task entrusted to me. (…). So though I was not a slave to any human being, I put myself in slavery to all people…. I accommodated myself to people in all kinds of different situations, so that by all possible means I might bring some to salvation: All this I do for the sake of the Gospel” (1Co. 9:16-23).
Meditating the Word with Mother Thecla
Mother Thecla constantly reminded us of the responsibilities of our mission. She warned us against the temptation to say that our instruments are the most rapid and effective; she urged us to constantly return to the deepest motivations of our vocation and to a spirit of generosity.
The Lord has entrusted a very beautiful and vast apostolate to our small Congregation. When a Daughter of St. Paul reflects on the fact that she has been called to spend her energies and her entire life in “spreading the Christian doctrine,” she should be happy and should admit that the Lord has loved her with a special love. In fact, he wants to associate her to himself in his mission of saving the world (VPC 115).
The power-idea which must animate us is the thought of souls. This thought must goad us on. We must be concerned about how we are to reach people and bring them the word of truth and salvation. How many souls never hear a good word, never hear anything said about God, live as they did not have an immortal soul! Who will help them? Who will lead them to God, if not we who have received so many graces from the Lord and who have in our hands extremely effective means of apostolate?
We must not give souls that which brings more material gain but that which does them greater good, whether by means of the press, films, radio, or any other instrument. (VPC 140).
….have a heart and mind as large as those of Jesus and St. Paul, who “knew how to make himself all things to all people in order to win all to Christ.” (We) must increase in virtue, in spiritual, intellectual and moral strength; widen our perspectives in order to understand all people, whatever continent, nation or region they come from….
All people, together with their good qualities, also have defects and vice versa…Love, always more love…this is the path which will lead us to accomplish the greatest good possible (VPC 52)
Our apostolate is a participation in the apostolate of Jesus. May every Daughter of St. Paul make the effort to irradiate always better and to an always greater degree the light and grace of the Divine Master: to give Jesus to souls, like Mary and with Mary (VPC246).
No sooner had the Blessed Virgin received Jesus into her most pure womb than she left in hast to bring him to her cousin (Elizabeth). Let us imitate Mary, who spoke little, meditated on what she heard, walked quickly, and was always serene, modest and humble….May the Blessed Mother give her own heart to each Daughter of St. Paul (VPC 119).
Prayer to Mary, Woman of Communication
O Mother of our Lord Jesus, woman open to the gift of the Spirit, you are the true communicator because you revealed to us the Word of the Father. He sends his Son into the midst of the men and women of every age, so that they might discover his infinite love for them and learn to communicate among themselves as brothers and sisters.
You are the loving Virgin who made herself available to God; the temple of God who silently welcomed and guarded the great mystery of the Word made flesh in your womb, so that our eyes, blinded by sin and by our restless human longings, might contemplate the living Christ and see in him the face of the Father.
You revealed your beloved Son to the poor and the wise in the eloquent poverty of Bethlehem and in the simplicity of the little house of Nazareth. You followed him with total dedication as he carried out his mission, traveling the paths of the world with him up to the moment of his sacrifice on the cross.
In silent adoration, you awaited his glorious resurrection . After his ascension, your remained in prayer with the apostles in the upper room, so as to welcome the Spirit, who helps us understand and communicate, renew the world, and transform our lives in such a way that Christ, your Son, might always live in us.
O Mary, our Lady and Queen of communication, we pray for all who communicate the Gospel. Help us all to transmit a little of your light, your unshakable faith, and your vigilant, hope-filled love. Help us to work in a concrete way to give birth to a new world by working to establish the Kingdom of God. Amen.
Prayer to St. Paul
I bless you, O Jesus, for having given to St. Paul a heart so full of love for God and for the Church, and for having saved so many souls through his zeal. And you, great saint, obtain for me an ardent desire to carry out the apostolate of social communication in a holy manner of prayer, of example, of activity and of word so that I may merit the reward promised to good apostles. St. Paul, the Apostles, pray for us. Amen
Blessed James Alberione’s Thought
Mother Thecla’s words: This will do good; this other will not do good, encompasses everything. Nothing is left out. She was both disciple and Teacher and she represents you well. Therefore, humbly follow her.
Alberione, Catechetical Congress, 1960