This is what the celebration of Christmas is all about. The darkness of winter, the shorter days and longer nights have turned toward the light. The days are becoming longer and the light is revealing what we couldn't see in the darkness. The great gift of Christmas is the coming of our salvation. All that we long for: whole relationships, security, control for a planned future... We don't have to give them up - we just gift them up to God and receive them back in such a way that they become the fullness of life.
Paul tells us "It is all yours, all is yours, you are Christ's and Christ's is Gods!" Our longings and desires are now turning toward the light. Our eyes are enlightend and we rejoice in the hope that is our vocation (call). Rejoice, Paul exhorts. Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say Rejoice!
Have a blessed and glorious revelation of God's love in Jesus through the Spirit this Christmas. May Jesus be born in us and grow to full stature.
Sr Margaret Kerry, fsp
The saints can help us see the world with different eyes. They have left their daily witness written on the hearts of believers. They intercede for us from within the communion of the saints as our brothers and sisters. Their eyes have seen what Paul said "eye has not seen nor ear heard what is prepared for us by the Lord." Our waiting can happen in real waiting situtations: the line in the grocery store, the traffic, waiting for a phone call or a letter, waiting for friendship, waiting for reconciliation. Our advent waiting with the saints reminds us that we can celebrate hope in Jesus coming to live among us to prepare a place for us to live forever.
The inner diary of love that we write as we wait in silence is contemplation. Our eyes are open to the mystical reality of communion with God and with one another.
Mark 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.
Like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.
who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'
And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
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One of the “icons” of Paul’s description of Christ in this passage is the community of L’Arche. These are places (Arks) that enable people with and without disabilities to share their lives in communities of faith and friendship. Community members are transformed through relationships of mutuality, respect, and companionship as they live, work, pray, and play together. In a recent letter to his communities, the founder, Jean Vanier, wrote: “The most important time is to help each person become more human and governed less by fear. It is about keeping an open heart, creating communities where we truly love one another despite our differences and where we become a source of hope for one another and where we celebrate life. It is also about discovering how faith in God and the Gospel can help us to become more loving, more giving and not bow down to the tyranny of normality: being strong and beautiful, fleeing from suffering and discarding the weak. The greatest value of L’Arche, like faith and light, is to show that weak people are not only important, but that they have a message for society and the Church.” This is a difficult concept to grasp, yet our deepest longings point in this direction. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in Introduction to Christianity that “Christian faith is more than the option of a spiritual ground to the world,; its central formula is not ‘I believe in something,’ but ‘I believe in you.’ It is the encounter with the man Jesus, and in this encounter is experienced the meaning of the world as person.” Jesus, he continues, is God’s witness through whom the intangible has become tangible. Each of us has to ask the question: “Are you really he?” as we experience the darkness and indifference of the world. This question is an assertion that we want to know and love him more and more so we can confess: “I believe in you, Jesus, as the meaning of the world and of my life.” Fr. Crespi, S.S.P. writes: before carrying out mission it is necessary to promote a spirituality of communion. Then we answer the deep needs of the world knowing our brothers and sisters in the profundity of the mystical Body, in the mystery of the Trinity. The great program, Alberione says, is the one of the tabernacle: From here I will illuminate. We are light in the measure we live in communion with God. “I am the light of the world, you are the light of the world” Jn. 1:4. This is the mission entrusted to us. We are called to radiate God, to diffuse God’s light.
TRUTH Read 1 Corinthians 1: 24-25 You may also want to read the surrounding versus introducing Paul’s reflection.
WAY Meditate How did Paul arrive at this proclamation? As we read Paul’s letters often we realize that he strove to live Christ as a new way to be human.
LIFE Pray Cardinal Ratzinger said each of us ask the question: “Are you really he?” As we profess Jesus to be Life what questions do we want to share with him? Turn these into a prayer.
LIVE Act “Meaning, is the bread on which we subsist. Without the word, without meaning, without love we fall into the situation of no longer being able to live, even when earthly comfort is present in abundance. Meaning is the ground on which our existence stands and lives. It cannot be made but only received. We respond to the Word that upholds and maintains all things. Meaning is already granted to us. We share this meaning, the light of Christ, with everyone we meet.” Cf. Cardinal J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity.
Jesus, Good Shepherd,
Who brought from heaven the fire of your love, give us your heart.
Inflame us with a great love for our brothers and sisters. Make us sharers in your mission.
Live in us so that we may radiate you
In word, in suffering, in pastoral action,
In the example of a good life.
We offer ourselves as faithful sheep who share in your pastoral mission in the Church. Dispose all minds and hearts to receive your grace. Come, divine Shepherd, guide us; may there soon be one flock and one Shepherd.
Jesus Good Shepherd, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us. Amen.
(Prayers of the Pauline Family, Fr. Alberione).
In his book, Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master, Fr. Robert Barron has a chapter entitled “The Strangeness of God.” Citing the Summa Theologica, Fr. Barron retells the story of God’s presence in and to the world. Thomas quotes from the prophet Isaiah: “Lord...you have accomplished all we have done.” Fr. Barron would have us notice the tension in this line—all we have done has actually been achieved by God. “We act, and God acts in us, and, in the imagination of Isaiah, there is no final contradiction between these two affirmations. Especially in the light of the Incarnation, it becomes obvious that the proximity of God in no way overwhelms the creature but rather lifts her up to perfection and intensifies her independence and integrity.” This is what Paul is reminding us as he invites or rather begs us to offer our lives as worship, as a living liturgy. It is because of the life, death and resurrection of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, that we enter this priesthood. We trade, as one author puts it, our earthly identity for our true identity in Christ. We are transformed into his image as we gaze with uncovered faces at the glory of the Lord. We are able to act with such great boldness because we have this hope, Paul says, that the Spirit gives life. “We have received this ministry through God’s mercy, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor. 3; 4:1). We no longer proclaim ourselves—we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Cor. 4:5). Paul reminds us that as we offer of our life Christ becomes manifest in and through us in each moment (1 Tim 4:3-5). Everything is sanctified by God’s Word revealed in our life. This is a new form of asceticism that Paul proclaims: Everything is yours, and your are Christ’s and Christ is God’s. “ When we drink the cup of blessing, aren't we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn't it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don't we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ? Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn't become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don't reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is” (1Cor. 10:15; The Message). Karl Rahner prayed that we look for the experience of grace in the contemplation of our life. One can only look for it by forgetting oneself; one can only find it by seeking God and by giving oneself to him in a love which forgets self. This, he said, becomes the pure wine of the Spirit. “Our mission,” expressed Blessed James Alberione, “is a sharing in the teaching and priesthood of Christ. If you learn how to sanctify this apostolate with the right intention and purity of heart, even the smallest action will have the value and the solemnity of a sacred rite” (Pauline Calendar, June 11, 1957.)
TRUTH Read Romans 12:1 Paul says that God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). Christ is manifest in and through us. God’s Word is revealed in our life.
WAY Meditate “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-18).
LIFE Pray that we may offer the ministry of reconciliation. Each day is the day of salvation. Each day is the acceptable time. This is the message that we share. All creation is new. Paul said, “Every day I die. I do!” (1 Cor. 15:30). We also die to our self so that our life is Christ. Jesus our Life transforms us so that all we carry out is, as Alberione wrote, a sacred ritual.
LIVE Act To be a minister of reconciliation is to express the compassion that God has for us. Become sons and daughters of your Father in heaven, because he causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and rain to fall on the just and unjust. (Matthew 5:45). Abide in Christ—remain always in Christ through the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). When we find ourselves controlling of others we offer the reconciliation of trust as we entrust ourselves to God. When we are angry we offer the reconciliation of compassion and kindness. We become ministers of reconciliation as we share the Good News of God’s compassion and mercy with toward us. This calls for detachment from self and loving union with God in Christ through the Spirit.
Jesus, Master and Good Shepherd, who brought from heaven the fire of your love, give us your heart. Inflame us with the desire for the Glory of God and with a great love for our brothers and sisters. Make us sharers in your apostolate. Live in us, so that we may radiate you in word, in suffering, in pastoral action, in the witness of a holy life. We offer you ourselves as docile and faithful sheep, to cooperator in your pastoral mission in the Church. Come, divine Shepherd, guide us; may there be one flock and one Shepherd. Jesus Good Shepherd, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us.
(Prayers of the Pauline Family, Fr. Alberione).
TRUTH Read Gal. 6:2 We are saved by the gift of God, not because of any works we do or any external actions. We love our brothers and sisters as expressions of our worship in Christ. We are the sign of God’s presence in the world as His sacred Temple. The fruit we bear is by God’s grace.
WAY Meditate God is rich in Mercy. While we were dead through trespasses and sins He made us alive in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2) to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). Fr. Alberione based Pauline spirituality on a love for the scriptures and the Eucharist. He wanted to bring this spirituality to bear on the media ministry.
LIFE Pray May the eyes of our heart be enlightened so that we know the hope to which we are called. Christ is head over all things for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way (Eph.1:22).
LIVE Act Paul was irreproachable in the way he fulfilled all external responses to the law. He was zealous in the way he comported himself and in the way he upheld all that was expected of him in the faith/culture he was immersed in. On the road to Damascus, as he continued to carry out all that he knew to be right, Paul encountered the person of Christ. He was enlightened. This new awareness of Christ temporarily blinded him in its brightness. Paul refused to eat. To rise from his desolate state would take great humility and trust, and not just on Paul’s part. Ananias was called to bear Paul’s burden, to encourage and strengthen Paul who was a dangerous persecutor. Paul accepted the help of Ananias who than led him to the Christian community. From this experience Paul knew that to love was to fulfill the law. The wisdom that overshadowed his former knowledge was that the Church is the body of Christ and we are God’s Temple. Christ became Paul’s true identity. Paul tells us that our true identity is in Christ. Transformed by this love we realize that “charity is the fulfillment of communion with Christ” (Benedict XVI).
Lord, Jesus, you know we have no faith in our own powers; in your mercy grant that we may know and glorify God. With your grace we promise to do our utmost that the gospel may be diffused in the spirit of our father, St. Paul.
Alberione saw Mary as a mother who cares about everything that concerns her children. “The Pauline Family strives to live fully the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life, in the spirit of St. Paul, under the gaze of the Queen of Apostles.” Living under Mary’s gaze--this is the essence of Alberione’s Marian spirituality. Living under someone’s gaze means living in that person’s presence. For Alberione, Mary is present in the life of each Christian through every stage, from birth to death. Because presence implies relationship, living in someone’s presence means being in a relationship with that person. Mary’s presence is an active force. Marian devotion makes her present in our lives, set within the context of what Alberione called the “pact” with the Lord. The pact or covenant was first at the beginning of the institute, when scanty resources had to meet great demands. The pact was rooted in a spirit of faith that God will supply all our needs--material as well as spiritual. In extending this pact to Mary, Alberione wrote:
“Today,” Alberione wrote, “something must be done between us and Our Lady, a kind of pact must exist between her and us. I looked for something in this regard that would express well what I would like to tell you, and it seems to me that this is the most fitting: ‘Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm’ (Song 8:6). It is a seal of love, a strong seal, because love is strong as death. It would be good for us to reflect on this thought, which tells us what our devotion to Mary most holy should be. To set Mary as a seal upon our heart and upon our arm means to set devotion to Our Lady as a seal upon our whole life, to live in such a way that she is always before us, presiding over our studies, our spiritual work, our apostolate: that she be always present in our entire life.”
Marian spirituality has one purpose, to bring people to Jesus: He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life; He who is Teacher, Priest, Victim, God! “God willed us to have everything through Mary.” Jesus is the Apostle: “We have our high priest and apostle, Jesus Christ” (Heb 3:1). Mary is the apostle with Christ, in dependence on Christ, sharing in the apostolate with Christ. The Christian life begins at baptism and grows ‘until Christ is formed in you’” (Gal 4:19).
The main goal of our life is that Christ be formed in us to the point where we can say “It is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me” (Gal 2:20). Mary plays a key role. Just as she formed Jesus in her womb, bringing the Word Incarnate into the world, so she forms Jesus in us. Mary “brought forth” the Savior--in Latin, edidit. Mary then was the “editor” who brought forth the life of Christ in us. Alberione chose the word editions to describe the work he was doing--the apostolate of the editions. He wrote: The first edition: from all eternity the heavenly Father is the “Editor” of the Son. . . . The divine Son is the “Editor” of the Gospel. . . . The Holy Spirit is the Author and “Editor” of Sacred Scripture. The second edition: Mary “edits” the Word become man. Mary was the teacher of Jesus and then of all Christians. Mary was the teacher and also the first disciple of Jesus: Mary is our teacher in association with, in dependence on and in relation to Jesus Christ. Because she was a disciple, she became a teacher. In Mary there were the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge. To Mary, Alberione declared: “You gave the world the book to read, the Eternal Word.”
(Excerpts from “On Alberione and Mary by Sr. Marianne Trouve, F.S.P. Used with permission.)
TRUTH Read Gal. 4.4 Mary is God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. She is Mother of God—Theotokos. The Council of Ephesus decreed in 431 that Mary is Theotokos because her son Jesus is one person who is both God and man, divine and human.
WAY Meditate The main goal of our life is that Christ be formed in us to the point where we can say “It is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me” (Gal. 2:20). Just as Mary formed Jesus in her womb, bringing the Word Incarnate into the world, so she forms Jesus in us. Mary “brought forth” the Savior. Mary then is the “editor” who brings forth the life of Christ in us.
LIFE Pray Marian spirituality has one purpose, to bring us to Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. “God willed us to have everything through Mary” (Alberione). Jesus is the Apostle: “We have our high priest and apostle, Jesus Christ” (Heb 3:1). Mary is the apostle with Christ, in dependence on Christ, sharing in the apostolate with Christ. The Christian life begins at baptism and grows ‘until Christ is formed in you’” (Gal. 4:19).
LIVE Act “The first to open her heart and contemplate 'the Word made flesh' was Mary, the Mother of Jesus. A humble girl of Galilee thus became the 'Seat of Wisdom'. Just like John the apostle, each of us is invited to welcome her into our homes in order to know Jesus more deeply and to feel His faithful and inexhaustible love” (Benedict XVI). Just like St. Paul and Alberione we welcome Mary as our Mother, Teacher and Queen of Apostles. Mary presents Jesus to us. The ancient hymn in Paul’s letter (Phil 2:2) is an invitation to live his kenosis, his emptying. He who took on our very nature transforms us into the icon or “likeness of Christ”. Jesus reveals and communicates to us “the true ‘face’ of the good and faithful God who loves us and does not abandon us, not even in death” (Benedict XVI). Mary goes in haste with this news and to be of service to her cousin Elizabeth. In our daily visitations we carry Jesus to others. This is an indispensable element in Pauline life. Meditate on the second joyful mystery of the rosary for inspiration and grace as you encounter people with the gospel in your daily life.
Mary, you had faith in the incarnation of the Son of God in your virginal womb and you became the Mother of God. Jesus entrusted himself to you from the incarnation to the ascension. I too place myself entirely into your hands. May we meditate on the words of your blessed Son as you preserved them in your heart and meditated on them. Obtain for us the grace to know, imitate and love ever more the Divine Master, Way, Truth and Life. Come, O Jesus, live in us and reign!
“The decisive event in the life of the Apostle of the Gentiles was his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. ... The Apostle saw the Risen Jesus; and in Him he beheld the full stature of humanity. As a result Paul experienced an inversion of perspective; he now saw everything in the light of this perfect stature of humanity in Christ".
“Let us make haste to know the Lord', the Risen One! As you know, Jesus, perfect man, is also our true God. In Him, God became visible to our eyes, to give us a share in His divine life. With Him a new dimension of being, of life, has come about, a dimension which integrates matter and through which a new world arises".
“This new dimension comes to each of us through faith and Baptism. This Sacrament is truly death and resurrection, transformation and new life. ... I live, but no longer I. In a certain way, my identity has been taken away and made part of an even greater identity; I still have my personal identity, but now it is changed and open to others as a result of my becoming part of Another: in Christ I find myself living on a new plane.”
“But if we are convinced and have come to experience that without Christ life lacks something, that something real - indeed, the most real thing of all - is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life.”
“Let us enable human poverty to encounter divine mercy. The Lord makes us His friends, He entrusts Himself to us, He gives us His Body in the Eucharist, He entrusts His Church to us. ... Let us embrace His will, like St. Paul: 'Preaching the Gospel ... is a necessity laid upon me; woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). Benedict XVI
In the gospel of Matthew Jesus asks us to “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:8). “The Greek word Matthew uses is teleios, often translated as perfect. Paul uses the same term in first Corinthians where it is translated as “mature” (2:6) and “complete” (13:10). Mature implies “full growth. Is this what Jesus is implying? The Hebrew word for teleios is ta’am “to be complete, be duplicated, to be a twin.” Jesus is urging us to be a splitting image of the Father….God’s completeness far surpasses a human’s. In the context of the Sermon on the Mount, however, Jesus is saying “Grow up! Go for it! Be all you can be!” We’ll never be as perfect as God but we can be complete” (Fr. Norm Langebrunner).
In Jesus Paul saw the fulfillment of the invitation: “Be holy as I am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). Paul remembered the promises God made through the prophets: “I will pour out my spirit” (Ezekiel 29:39; Zechariah 12:1). All of God’s promises find their yes, their fulfillment, in Jesus. God is faithful, good, true, beautiful, and brings all to life, Jesus reveals God’s love and what it means to be fully human. “Yes” has always been in Jesus (2 Cor 1:18-22). To become what God is calling us to become we live in the manner Jesus did. When we are faithful we reflect God’s glory. God has established, anointed, sealed us with and given us the Spirit in our hearts.
In Romans 5 Paul expresses this good news as the Spirit poured into our hearts. The nature of love is to spill over. The Spirit, according to Paul, is God within us (church) speaking the language God understands. Our very identity is the temple of the Spirit God dwells in.
“If Christ Himself is inside me and I inside him, the two of us are not separate individuals. This is where the doctrine of the Body of Christ begins, because we are all incorporated...in Christ Himself. Therefore, our neighbour is truly someone at our side. We are not two separated “I's”, but we are united in the “I” of Christ. In other words, Eucharistic and sacramental catechesis should really reach the depths of our existence, be an education in opening my existence in its most profound depths, so that we can become truly just. In this sense, it seems to me that we could all increase in our knowledge of the liturgy, not as something exotic, but as the heart of our being as Christians, which does not easily open itself to a distant person, but is precisely openness to the other side, to the world” Benedict XVI.
Paul says “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). This is an empowerment of the Spirit. We can know the truth of ourselves and the truth of others in Jesus attitudes and way of being.
“Jesus, Way of holiness, make me your perfect imitator. Jesus Way, render me perfect as our Father in heaven. Jesus Truth, may I be light for the world. Jesus Life grant that I may live eternally in the joy of your love” (Blessed Alberione; Invocations to Jesus Master).
TRUTH Read - Ephesians 4:11-13. Blessed Alberione tells us that “Without Christification” there is no authentic proclamation. “Your own identity with Christ is the indispensible premise for being able to preach. The entire Pauline life and mission is an act of proclamation.” (Fr. Silvio Sassi).
WAY Meditate - The Vatican II document Lumen Gentium confirms our call to reflect God’s holiness. Through each of us the Church makes Christ present. The same Spirit who anointed Jesus has anointed us – we have been “Christed” or christened at baptism as priest, prophet, and shepherd-king. The word anointed (in Greek, Christ), appears six times in reference to Jesus in the New Testament In Luke 4:21 Jesus quotes scripture saying he is the awaited Christ: “God has anointed me…this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” In the letters of Paul the word anointed appears once and in reference to our anointing. “He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts”(2 Cor. 1: 22).
LIFE Pray - Christening, also known as Baptism, literally means "to bring to Christ". Let us thank God for the gift of baptism and the indwelling Spirit of God.
LIVE Act - The first work of the Pauline and the first task of the Pauline Family, is to be an image of the Father in the Son, the image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15) through the Spirit. This conformation to the Master is a response of love for love coming from the Father: “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5).
Jesus Master, we thank you for having made yourself our model. You left us examples of the highest perfection. You invite us to follow you on earth and in heaven. We contemplate you during your earthly life. We place ourselves in your school. Draw us to you. Fill all our powers with yourself. Spill your love into us. Live in us so that we may overflow with you and radiate you (Cf. Blessed James Alberione; Prayers).
Saul... tentmaker, Pharisee and persecutor of the Christian Church. After his conversion Saul identified himself as “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus.” Saul’s religious transformation began in his youth. He was born and raised in the city of Tarsus (Acts 21.39) Tarsus was a crossroads of the world, a great trade center on the Mediterranean. It was also a university town filled with young scholars and philosophers. Saul was a devout Jew, “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee” (Phil. 3:5). He traveled to Jerusalem to study. As a Pharisee, one of the “separated ones,” (Acts 23:6; 26:5; Phil. 3:5) his life dream was to “sit at the feet of Gamaliel” (Acts 22:3), the most distinguished and revered living rabbi in his time.
Growing up in Tarsus as a devout Jew and later sitting at the feet of Gamaliel started Saul on the road to conversion. Paul alludes to this in Galatians 1:15-16: “When he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace.”
At one point Saul was resisting ongoing conversion. He became fundamentalist in his approach to followers of the Way of Jesus. The story of Saul continued with the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1) and his persecution of the church: “entering into every house, and hauling men and women out, committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3). Even though Gamaliel taught him that God is the One who judges, Saul thought he alone heard the voice of God, he defined himself as pious; he did not hear the cry of the poor.
The striking religious conversion on the road to Damascus Paul attributes to God. “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Donald L. Gelpi, S.J, presents five forms of conversion: affective, intellectual, moral, social political and religious. Religious conversion always results from a Divine intervention. Saul’s religious conversion in Acts 9:1 held the seeds of his “continual conversion.” Paul testified that “the grace he has given me had not been without result.” Gelpi writes “In all five forms of conversion, if those initially converted resist ongoing conversion, they introduce a measure of inauthenticity in their lives.” Paul did not resist ongoing conversion. He was attentive to the need for conversion in every area of his life. Blessed Alberione’s prayers for living in continual conversion correspond to the forms of conversion identified by Gelpi: “Jesus live in our mind, will and heart, that we live in faith working by means of charity. Unite us to You, incarnated sanctity, in whom is the divine life” (Cf. Until Christ be Formed in You, pg. 60).
On the walls of every Pauline chapel the words “live in continual conversion” or “be sorry for sin” are written. The original Latin “Cors poenitens tenete” means to live with a penitent heart. This exhortation to live in continual conversion is a core charismatic principle and belief of Pauline Christian living. Blessed Alberione received these words through revelation in a time of particular difficulty. “While examining all of his actions anew to see if there were impediments to the work of grace on his part, it seemed that the Divine Master wanted to assure the Institute, launched just a few years earlier…. In truth Jesus Master was saying: ‘Do not be afraid; I am with you; From here (the taber-nacle) I want to enlighten. Live with a penitent heart’” (Alberione; Abundantes Divitia Gratiae Suae; 151-152).
Ongoing conversion is at the heart of the Christian and Pauline experience. Jesus himself called for our ongoing conversion as he announced: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). That the grace given us will not be without result “the Pauline Family strives to live fully the Gospel of Jesus Christ….A secret of success is to model oneself on God by living in the Church and for the Church; of being wild olives grafted onto the olive tree, the Eucharistic Lord; of reflecting and nourishing oneself with every word of the Gospel, in accord with the spirit of St Paul” (Alberione; Abundantes Divitia Gratiae Suae; 94-95).
LECTIO DIVINA Praying with the Word of God
LECTIO DIVINA Praying with the Word of God
LECTIO DIVINA Praying with the Word of God
LECTIO DIVINA Praying with the Word of God
TRUTH Read 1 Corinthians 15:10 in which Paul presents us with a synopsis of his conversion and his correspondence to this grace. Then read it again silently and slowly. Pay careful attention attending to your inner response.
WAY Meditate on how St. Paul has captured the eternal struggle that we all go through in our call to conversion. “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate.” ‘Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:15; 24-25). Blessed Alberione tells us of himself, “Here is a half-blind man, who is being led; and in moving along he is enlightened from time to time, so that he can proceed further: God is the light” (AD 202).
LIFE Pray in the light of this passage. Christ’s redemptive death inaugurates the new creation: “By new creation, Paul means that God in Christ has created humanity anew, giving it newness of life” (Romans 6:4; Fr. Joseph Fitzmyer), a life in union with the risen Christ, “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20), a life destined to share in the glory of God. After encountering the risen Christ on the road to Damascus Paul uses the expression to be or to live in Christ 164 times. Through baptism the resurrected, glorified Christ truly dwells within us (Galatians 2:20). Through the Holy Spirit Christ brings about our ongoing conversion, the discarding of the old man/woman in order that we might live in Christ according to the new woman/man (Colossians 3:10).
Live in us Jesus, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so that we may love you affectively with our whole heart; love you with our whole intellect uniting our mind to yours; love you with our whole will and love our neighbor as ourselves. May we be faithful witnesses to your gospel in our society. Make your grace in us fruitful!
LIVE Act on God’s invitation to you. Paul admitted that he was still on the road to conversion, “I do not consider that I have made it my own, I strain forward to what lies ahead, pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). What faithful decisions am I called to make today? How do I assume responsibility for my growth and development in one area of human experience? Am I able to accept responsibility for “doing the things I hate” while giving thanks to God for the grace of the indwelling of Christ who transforms my life? Name ways that you continue on this road to conversion in each moment toward fullness of life in Christ. What actions in my life witness to my faith, love and the “hope that is in me?” “With Christ in us we are a new creation!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
This is the text most quoted by Blessed James Alberione. It is an identifying passage for the Pauline charism. Here are some passages from his book“Abundantes divitiæ gratiæ suæ” recounting the foundation of the Pauline Family that highlight Blessed Alberione’s encounter with St Paul:
“Saint Paul: the saint of universality! My admiration and devotion began especially from the study and meditation of the Letter to the Romans. From then on the personality, the sanctity, the heart, intimacy with Jesus, his work in dogma and morals, his mark left in the organization of the Church, his zeal for all peoples, were the subject of meditation. He appeared to him to be truly the Apostle: therefore every apostle and every apostolate could take from Him”.6
Talking afterwards about the search for spirituality proper for the Society of Saint Paul and for the Pauline Family, Fr. Alberione reviews a certain number of traditions already existing and then explains:
“But then if we pass to the study of Saint Paul, we find the Disciple who knows the Divine Master in his totality; he lives him completely; he fathoms the deep mysteries of his doctrine, of his heart, of his sanctity and divinity; he sees him as teacher, victim, priest; he presents to us the total Christ, as he has already defined himself, Way, Truth and Life. In this vision is religion, dogma, morals and cult; in this vision is the integral Jesus Christ; through this devotion the whole man is taken and conquered by Jesus Christ. Piety becomes full and the religious like the Priest grows in this manner in wisdom (study and heavenly wisdom), age (maturity and virtue) and grace (sanctity) until the fullness and completed age of Jesus Christ; until he substitutes in man or to man: ‘I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me’ (Gal 2:20)”.7 (James Alberione; AD 64; 159-160)
The fascination that Saint Paul has on Fr. Alberione constitutes his “complete” style of loving and communicating to others an “integral” Christ. In Saint Paul is personified the model of a Christian life that is lived and proposed in its totality of way, truth and life. If it is true that the trinomial “way, truth and life” is a Christological definition present in the Gospel of Saint John, it is also true that Fr. Alberione gives it an “interpretation” starting from the style of life and preaching of Saint Paul. For Blessed Alberione the person and the work of Saint Paul are the exegesis (analyzing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating) of the Johannine trinomial “way, truth and life”. Fr. Silvio Sassi, Superior General, 2009
“’Way, Truth and Life’; the foundations of true sanctity are there. And it is exactly the way that we must hold fast as Paulines. We must reach this point. ‘For me to live is Christ’ (Phil 1:21); and ‘I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me’ (Gal 2:20). (Meditazioni per consacrate secolari, 1976, p. 412) Remake oneself because we must become another person and have afterwards just one personality ‘in Christ’. Christ is one personality and the more one grafts himself to Christ the more he possesses an elevated personality: the divine one. So then ‘vivit vero in me Christus’ (Gal 2:20). How sublime is this!”( Alle Figlie di San Paolo, Spiegazione delle Costituzioni, 97.)
TRUTH - read the passage aloud once. Then read it again silently and slowly. Pay careful attending to your inner response.
- WAY – meditate Paul says “For me to live is Christ: Christ is my life, it is he who lives, who guides, it is Christ. What would St Paul do today? He would fulfill the two greatest precepts: love God with all your heart, with all your strength, with your entire mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Live as Christ who lives in you. Think of someone who has lived the life of Christ. What is it that attracts you to their way of living? Gospel for Paul is not a book but the person of Jesus Christ.
- LIFE – pray What do you feel when you pray the passage again? Do you believe that you are called to this fullness of life in Christ? Do you believe that Christ lives in you? St Paul is here to tell you: “My child, for whom I suffer again the pains of childbearing, until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). Paul reminds you that he lived by faith – not by sight. “I live by my faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave his life for me.” (Gal. 2:20) Open your heart and pray aloud or silently: “Christ, live in me.” Invoke in prayer the fruits of the Spirit for a new life in Christ (Gal. 5:22-26). “When the Spirit penetrates a soul, it becomes a living plant that bears fruit for eternal life” (Alle Figlie di San Paolo 1940-1945, p. 61.)
- the Gospel LIVES in me – how can I live this passage in my life? Alberione says: “Live Christ first and then give him; live him first and then bring him to the world as St Paul has done. First Paul is able to say ‘I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me’ and then ‘I have made myself all to all.’ Through baptism the Christian ‘puts on’ Christ. Through baptism the Christian receives the gift of liberty that is used to love our neighbor. Paul invites you to “walk according to the Spirit” (Gal 5) and bear the burdens of one another (Gal. 6:2). The Pauline mission is putting into action the charity of Christ. Write anything you want to remember or ponder later. When you have had an experience of living these words write it down in a journal that may be brought to prayer.
You are invited to share your reflections and experiences of life as inspired by this scripture passage, you may post them on the Internet site http://gospellivesinme.blogspot.com or send them for publication in the Pauline Cooperator magazine firstname.lastname@example.org Sr Margaret Kerry 50 St Paul’s Ave, Boston, MA 02130
A Sentence of Scripture offered as a monthly guide for inspiration and daily life.
© Daughters of St Paul 2009
Here is a suggested outline: 1. Preparing the environment (or context) where your encounter with the Word will take place. For example you may open a Bible in your home, bring the leaflet to Mass or Eucharistic adoration.2. Next, the Holy Spirit is invoked so that "as the Word was made a book," as in the experience of the first Christian community, so now "the book becomes Word."3. The third step is the reading, or rather, the proclamation (especially in a group or family setting) of the Biblical text followed by a moment of silence for personal reflection. The participant(s) are then encouraged to annotate the passage, using, for example, question marks beside passages that seem more difficult to understand and underlining verses they consider particularly important. In this way you discover the key points of the passage. The passage is read again, marking it this time with exclamation points beside those verses that invite them to actions or changes of attitudes. With an asterisk mark those passages that help you to pray.4. Move on to meditation, following the exclamation points. A group may be invited to ask questions that apply to their lives.5. Next you (or the group) begins to pray, using the asterisks -- to pray from and with the word of God and what has been lived in the encounter with the Word, that is, with Christ.6. Time is left for contemplation in silence or with music. What is important is that "Jesus takes hold of me, looks at me and I at him, an exchange of gazes."7. You then move to the last stage, "action," writing a word (for example, dialogue or help) that indicates to them the path to follow and share. If may be shared on the Internet or in the Pauline Cooperator magazine.