Jesus, Alberione once preached, "opened a school during his earthly life and now he continues this school from the tabernacle, in his Eucharistic life [...]. The tabernacle is not just a throne of grace, but it is an official 'teaching Chair'." The Eucharist is the Chair from which the Divine Master communicates his entire life and that of his Father. In the Eucharist, Jesus invites us to do as he did: to take on the burden of others and of their sins. Jesus has communicated to us his capacity to carry what he carried: the weight of our brother and sister, giving our life for them, and he tells us: "Do this in memory of me."
Alberione's insistence on the dynamic Eucharistic presence sprang from personal experience, his own encounter with the Eucharistic Christ on the night between 31 December 1900 and the dawn of the 20th century on 1 January 1901. Speaking of that night of prayer more than 50 years later, he summed it up as "a special light came from the Host." Blessed James Alberione spent his life doing all he could to share that light with others, and to position them in turn to be sharers of light. And he considered there to be no better approach than by promoting a Christ-centered spirituality nourished by a daily hour of Eucharistic adoration (referred to simply as "the Visit"):
The Visit … took place during a night of adoration. It was then that the Lord helped [us] understand that, in this new century, our lives were to be rooted in the Eucharist and in activity…. You were born of the Eucharist. Always call yourselves ‘Paulines.’ Jesus drew Paul to himself. Grafted onto Christ, Paul produced the fruits of Christ. In the Visit, you will find encouragement, joy and the way to reach souls.” (Spiritual Exercises and Meditations, U.S.A., 1952)
Prolonged Eucharistic prayer not only allows us to spend time with the Lord, it also triggers in us an apostolic awareness that becomes “more vivid the more one grows in intimacy with the Lord” (1954 Memoirs, 120). On an interior level, we ascend toward the heights of the spiritual life referred to by Saint Paul.
The Visit: A Journey of Prayer
The Visit is not a simple practice of piety but a true journey of prayer. Blessed Alberione presents himself to us as a teacher of prayer, pointing out the stages of the journey we must follow: a substantial encounter with Jesus Master, the Truth, in the Word of God; gradual conformity of life to Jesus Master, the Way, in a discipleship that allows us to take on the features of the One we follow, making particular use of the Examen prayer; communion with Jesus Master the Life in prayer of the heart.
The Visit is a prayer that, due to its ample time span (one hour), integral method, and evangelical content, fosters the process of interior transformation in Christ. Alberione told the Daughters of St. Paul that the Visit can help every individual develop her qualities (Spiritual Exercises and Meditations, U.S.A., 1952). By this, he was referring to the interior qualities that make us totally receptive to the mystery of Christ and to the prompting to mature in him: “The Visit leads us to make habitual, ongoing, daily progress” (Fidelity to the Pauline Spirit, Rome, 1965).
In the words of the Founder:
Eucharistic Adoration has the purpose of grounding our life in Christ Jesus, through Jesus, with Jesus.
It is the secret of our transformation.
It is the creature meeting his Creator;
The disciple before the Divine Master;
The patient with the Doctor of souls;
The poor one appealing to the rich One;
The thirsty one drinking at the Font;
The weak one presenting himself to the Almighty;
The tempted one seeking a sure Refuge;
The blind one searching for the light;
The friend who goes to the True Friend;
The lost sheep sought by the divine Shepherd;
The heart led astray who finds the Way;
The foolish one who finds Wisdom;
The bride who finds the Spouse of the soul;
The nothing who finds the All;
The afflicted who finds the Consoler;
The youth who finds life’s meaning.
It is the shepherds at the manager, Magdalene at the house of Simon, Nicodemus who arrives by night.
It is the holy conversations of the Samaritan, of Zacchaeus, of Philip and of all the apostles with Jesus,
especially during the last week of his earthly life and after the resurrection.
— Blessed James Alberione
Giovannamaria Cararra, FSP served as Superior General of the Daughters of St Paul. She is currently stationed in Lugano, Switzerland. Annunciata Bestetti, FSP, served as a General Councilor of the Daughters of St Paul and is currently a member of the Council for the Italian Province of the congregation.