Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Looking at 100

In today's Mass readings, Gideon--the least gifted member of the least significant household in the tribe of Manasseh--is chosen to deliver the people from marauders. He pleads his case, but the call is only confirmed by God, who says, "I will be with you." And in the Gospel, Jesus reminds the disciples that "many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."

In some ways, it's hard to see today's saint in those readings. Bernard was a charismatic leader of men before he was even a grown man. When he left his family and joined the monastery, the young ladies of the town went into mourning, and not just for the loss of the attractive young Bernard, but because he brought his whole circle of friends into the monastery with him!

You wouldn't necessarily associate the feast of St Bernard (the monk) with the Pauline Family, but on this day in 1914, the Founder blessed the first little house and print-shop that were the "acorn" of the great tree (in Italian, "alberone") that was about to germinate. That means that today opens our centennial of foundation.

On the 10th anniversary of that foundation, Blessed Alberione was already overseeing four groups of followers: the priests, seminarians and aspirants of the Society of St. Paul, the sisters and aspirants of
the Daughters of St. Paul (indistinguishable in their dress from any other soberly-attired young woman of the locale), the first few sisters of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master in their simple monastic style habits, and a cadre of associates (priests and lay) who collaborated in the spirit of St. Paul--the Pauline Cooperators. (This last group was the only one at the time to have any kind of official status in the Church.) The family went by the collective name "St. Paul" and they already numbered in the hundreds. They had undertaken a huge building project which included a massive church, and Alberione was foretelling the day when trains would pull up to their loading dock to pick up shipments of the Gospel, destined for all over the world.

And yet on that day, he commented: "People talk about 'admiration'; what is most admirable is what you don't see: the vocations and hidden sacrifices of the cooperators. But this is not a human work; it is what God has done in his love. It is the will of God that guides and rules, and everything is done for God alone. Take away the will of God, and even humanly speaking, you take away all the fruitfulness and vitality; there would be nothing but aridity left everywhere."

On another occasion he put it a little differently: "Everything comes from God; everything leads us to the Magnificat."

1 comment:

Diana Jenkins said...

Very interesting to read some Pauline history!