This is part 6 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’s constant concern was to guide the Daughters of St. Paul and its individual communities to communion, mutual understanding, and a deep sense of belonging. Her pedagogy was enlightened by the Pauline texts concerning love, summarized in the phrase from the Acts of the Apostles: “united, heart and mind” (cf. Acts 4:32).
Meditating the Word
Set your mind on the higher gifts. And now I am going to put before you the best way of all. Though I command languages both human and angelic—if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains—if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned—if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end (1Co. 12:31-13:1-8).
Meditating the Word with Mother Thecla
Mother Thecla returned over and over again to four verbs used frequently in the Gospel: to understand, to show compassion towards, to help and to forgive.
May each one commit herself to living well the Pauline religious life and coming to resemble our Father St. Paul, especially in love for the Lord, zeal for souls and in helping to create a familial spirit of love, which is so necessary for serene living together…. (VPC 192).
The faithful performance of our duties, harmony, peace, humility, mutual compassion and sincerity: all are virtues …. Where one can grow “in wisdom and grace” and enjoy a foretaste of the joys of heaven.
Is our family really like this? If we notice that in some things it differs from the Nazareth model, let us resolve to remedy the situation (VPC 118).
Prayers from the Scriptures
Jesus’ Priestly Prayer (John 17)
Prayer to St. Paul
Saint Paul, you wrote that love bears all things. Sometimes we don't feel very loving. You tell us that Jesus preached peace, yet we aren't always very serene. How do we live in Christ Jesus when we are hurting inside? Hold faith up for us as a shield to quench the flaming arrows of ambition, envy, self-pity and greed. Patron of patience, remind us that here we experience light momentary afflictions compared to the eternal joys that are to come. Enliven our hope!
You said that light shines out of darkness, and that Christ shines in our hearts no matter what happens. May we one day be able to say with you that it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us. Strengthen our love for him and for our sisters and brothers, especially the most vulnerable. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus, and we place all our hope in the living God, whose love never fails. Amen
Based on Eph 2:17; Rom 6:11; Eph 6: 16-17; 2 Cor 4: 6,17; Gal 2:20; Tim 4:10
Blessed James Alberione’s Thought
Let us recall another virtue of Mother Thecla: love. She kept each sister in mind, in spite of their increasing number. In thought, she followed those who were near and those far away. She was prompt to lend a helping hand in both major and minor difficulties. She knew how to correct when it was necessary, and how to encourage when problems arose. When the sisters approached her for advice, she first turned to God and then, enlightened, gave them her opinion.
Alberione, Meditation to the Superiors, March 1965