Paul: more than just a name

Brother Aloysius Milella, SSP, 01/09/2015

There's no understanding the Daughters of St Paul without an appreciation of the place of St Paul in the thought and heart of their Founder, Blessed James Alberione. He even wanted Paul the Apostle to be considered the actual Founder of the whole Pauline enterprise! Paul’s creative and energetic commitment to making the Way, Truth, and Life of Jesus known by all stirred every fiber of Alberione's being.  Paul’s love for, and extraordinary understanding of, Jesus struck a deep chord within him, prompting Alberione to hold St Paul up as a model not only of intense ministry, but of prayer.


Father Alberione wrote: “Without an apostle, there is no apostolate.” He expanded on this: “The whole secret of St. Paul’s greatness lies in his interior life. In vain do we ask God for the grace to become heroes to people. Our first need is to ask for the grace that will make us dear to God and only then for the grace to become apostles in the midst of the world.”


Under the tutelage of the Divine Master, Paul grew and made himself all things  to all people. He accommodated himself to every culture, convey that whatever its particular history or ethos the Gospel “belonged.” Nor did he ever nest in one place, in one approach, in one technique. The goal was to reach as many and as far as possible, wherever and however in the then known world. For him, a heart for the Gospel was synonymous with learning, determination, availability, and adaptability. Always, in whatever circumstances, he knew in whom he trusted (See 2Tm. 1:12).


St. Paul constantly strove to make Jesus known and to evangelize people. He seems to have mirrored the Gospel story of Emmaus: offering the most convincing insights about the Christ and then discovering him in the same way as the disciples (in listening to his word, in the “breaking of bread”). He evangelized street people, the great mass of common folk open and disposed to the touch of grace.  


Our community apostolates in the media and the marketplace are geared to do the same.


St. Paul spent more time in forming, building up, and deepening faith communities than in any other apostolic concern. Because our Pauline media outreach was to grow out of vowed faith communities, the Founder  matched him in bedrocking them in the temper of faith that carried Paul.


Now, as disciples of Jesus and fashioning our lives to his with all of its palpable concern for the good of humanity, so often we find ourselves naturally drawn to shield and protect others from whatever might bring harm, disfigurement, or outright evil to their lives. We find this preoccupation prominent in all of the saints, but especially in St. Paul. He was more than a father and educator in faith to so many. But once, through the Lord’s grace, he birthed anyone in the Gospel, he was more than determined that the precious gift of faith, however new, fragile, or immature, be utterly upheld, safeguarded, deepened…at whatever cost to himself.


And so we have his letters and the unparalleled witness of selfless outreach and a prayerful, devoted keeping of watch and ward over Jesus’ flock, however threateningly frightful the opposition.


How much Father Alberione patterned himself—and his sons and daughters—on this Paul. How much the infrastructure of the members’ apostolic life and apostolate reflected this vibrant and effective Paul in serving the Church, the Body of Christ.

Serving the media in opportune missionary outreach, our charism (the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes us Paulines) has found these media to be blessed tools in effectively communicating all that Jesus taught. It has also found itself challenged and mightily overrun in recent times by those who use the same media instruments in wide and hostile disaccord with elementary Christian faith and morals.  


For this, our venerated Founder had foreseen the need for unsparing prayer in support of the media as positive apostolate, while at the same time beseeching the mercy of God for those who would use these powerful means in harm, divisiveness, and outright evil. For this he inspired this Pauline Offertory prayer:


Father in union with all those who today celebrate the Eucharistic banquet a memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection, I offer my own self with our Lord:

To make amends for the error spread by the misuse of the media of social communications;

To beg your mercy for those persons who often allow themselves to be led astray by the indiscriminate use of the communications media;

For those who knowingly reject your Son and use the media of social communication with malice;

That men and women may hear and follow him alone whom you, heavenly Father, in your boundless love gave to the world, saying:  'This is my beloved Son, hear him.'

That the use of the media may help men and women learn and believe that Jesus alone is the perfect teacher;

That there may be a great increase in the number of priests, religious and lay persons who by prayer, example and professional work are devoted to the Christian apostolate of communications;

That all those who work with the media of social communications may strive to become holy, and proficient in their efforts, for the glory of God and the salvation of humankind;

That we may come to know our strengths and weaknesses, and your love which alone makes us worthy to call upon you as our Father, imploring your light, compassion and mercy.


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