Monday, January 5, 2009

January 6, 2009

From A Year With Blessed James Alberione, Compiled by J. Maurus

The Epiphany of Jesus

     Today is Epiphany, that is, the manifestation of Jesus.  After manifesting himself to the Jews, he manifested to the Gentiles, by drawing to himself the wise men by means of a star.  
     And now we have to manifest Jesus.  Manifest him in various ways:  through teaching, preaching - both oral and written -, through our artistic work, frames, statues and through all that is the liturgy; it is all a manifestation of Jesus Christ carried out in the spirit of the Church and of the Gospel.
     The blessed Virgin was the first to make Jesus Christ known.  She carried in her womb the incarnate Son of God.  She manifested him without preaching, in silence and in deeds.  First she showed him to the shepherds, then to the Magi so that they may adore him; she showed as he was, that is, as Son of God, Master of humanity, Saviour of the world.

From Saint and Thought for Every Day, by Blessed James Alberione


     Epiphany (in Italy) is celebrated on January 6 where it is a holy day of obligation; elsewhere it is celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8.  
     Isaiah, in prophesying about Jerusalem, refers to Christ and His Church to which those who seek the true light turn their thoughts and their steps.  Let us pray for those who still grope in the darkness of error and for those who seek true peace.
     St. Paul explains that the prophecy of Isaiah is realized in Christ, the Light of the world.
     St. Matthew tells us about the Magi rendering their homage to Jesus Christ.  They offer gold, for they know Him to be king; myrrh, because they venerate Him as man; and incense, because they adore Him as God.  Let us offer to Jesus the gold of our charity, the incense of our prayer, and the myrrh of self-mortification.

The Best Offering to Christ

     The Magi came a long distance and it is believed that they did not limit themselves to a brief visit.  Filled with very special graces, they must have been overwhelmed by love and reverence in the presence of the divine Infant.
     What shall we offer Jesus?  Man can offer God nothing which does not already belong to God.  Man is nothing.  We can offer nothing of our own except our liberty which God gave us to administer so to speak.  We are free, in a way; this is a perfection because by it we can manifest our love to God.  At the same time, we always have the unfortunate possibility of doing wrong.  we have our freedom; we are its administrators.... Let us offer our freedom to the Lord.

What Strikes Me Most

     Blessed (soon to be Saint, I believe) James Alberione highlighted the word Light in the passage above; it wasn't me - but I like it!  Too many times the dim path is easier for me.  Especially when I am particularly stressed, I find it easier to eat more, drink more, avoid praying more, etc.  - all the things away from the Light.  I understand what he means by offering Jesus the "myrrh of self-mortification."  This is our Epiphany - the Light is Christ and His Church.  I should always be heading toward that light, as the Magi in the painting above have found the Light of Christ.

What Strikes You Most Today?  (Click on "Comments" below to share your thoughts).

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Why a blog? Why St. Paul? Why do I think I have any business doing this?
We are all on a spiritual journey. We all want that journey to lead us to heaven, to eternity with God. For this journey, we need one another.
The journey so far has led me to read and learn about so many forms of authentic Catholic spirituality - Ignatian, Benedictine, Carmelite, Dominican, Franciscan, etc. My biggest problem was that I came to love each one tremendously. I began reading more and more, spending more and more time at the Daughters of St. Paul bookstore on Watson Road here in St. Louis. Who would have thought my greatest conversion story would take place in a bookstore? Mine was not quite as sudden or dramatic as St. Paul on the road to Damascus, but getting to know the Daughters of St. Paul affected me no less significantly.
The sisters are Eucharistic by nature. The first time I entered the chapel in their bookstore, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and one of the sisters was on her knees, gazing at Christ, with an indescribably beautiful smile on her face. I had a glimpse of heaven. I knelt at one of the other kneelers and noticed on the wall behind the monstrance the words: "Fear not, I am with you. From here I want to enlighten. Atone for sin." I had that brief moment of absolute certainty that I was on the right path.
Over the last several years I have worked my way through as many books, CD's, DVD's and conversations with the Daughters of St. Paul that time has allowed. Time is at such a premium for all of us. Years ago we were told that with advances in technology we would have much more free time on our hands. We all know this has not been the case. Our lives are busier and more hectic than ever. Even if we are unable to find time to read good books, see enlightening movies or attend lectures and discussions, maybe we could all spend a little time on the internet supporting one another on our faith journeys. Many of you know more about many aspects of Catholic spirituality than I do.
Pope John Paul the Great called us all to a New Evangelization, to share the Gospel with the world. I am hoping we can all be St. Paul in this blog space by sharing Christ with one another and with others. St. Paul travelled to many foreign and often hostile regions to evangelize the world; we are fortunate to be able to use the internet to reach even farther and more quickly.
The idea of using today's means of social communication to spread the Gospel was given to Blessed James Alberione on the night between the centuries (December 31, 1900 - January 1, 1901). He was a 16 year-old seminary student adoring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament when a special light came to him from the Host. Following this, Blessed James Alberione became the founder of the Society of St. Paul priests, the Daughters of St. Paul, the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd, Sisters of the Queen of Apostles, and numerous institutes that are also part of the Pauline family.
So what is Pauline spirituality? In my experience, Pauline spirituality encompasses all the teachings of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and love of all the other spiritualities and Saints of the Church. It is the members of the Pauline family who are the happiest people I know! It is loving God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit with all our hearts and souls, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and St. Paul.
So why St. Paul? I can relate to St. Paul. We first meet him in the New Testament as a sinner. He has a thorn in his side that God decides is best not to take away. I sometimes wish I knew what that thorn was, but it's probably better I don't know. I like to pretend it is one of my many weaknesses or faults. If St. Paul could go from persecuting Christ and His Church to becoming the person responsible for spreading the Gospel and establishing the Church in foreign lands, the least I can do is start a blog. I have been especially inspired by my two favorite bloggers, Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry, fsp, and a Pauline Cooperator named Rae Stabosz. I believe Sr. Margaret and Rae are doing just what St. Paul and Blessed James Alberione would be doing with the internet.
In future blogs (which will be shorter than this first post!), I would like to share writings of St. Paul, Blessed James Alberione, and many others. I look forward to others sharing writings from other Catholic spiritualities and writers. An especially Pauline way of sharing is to point out to one another what aspects particularly speak to each of us.
Another Pauline trait is to pray for one another. My prayer is that we support one another on our path to holiness. Our goal is to glorify God in all that we do - so let's do it!