Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

From A Year With Blessed James Alberione,
Compiled by J. Maurus
Mary, Mother of Jesus the Good Shepherd

Today is the feast of Mary, Mother of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and we shall place ourselves and our dear ones under the protection of this Mother.
You see, Jesus the Good Shepherd willed to be born of Mary, to be brought up by Mary, to be in the company of Mary all the years of his private life, and then to be listened to by Mary during the public life and also to be accompanied by her on the way to Calvary, during the crucifixion and the agony on the cross.
Give your hands to Mary, and she will lead you well and will give you consolation. And with her you can make people happy as well, you can serve them well.
And then, all together, all by different ways, will meet in paradise! That has to be the grand goal and the guiding principle leading us all in the right path, all of us!
All! Up in heaven, where shall reunite the families, communities and parishes.

What Strikes Me Most Today

Today is a little long - it is an explanation of the above mosaic from the Pastorelle Sisters (also part of the Pauline Family founded by Blessed James Alberione). Understanding this mosaic will help you know the Pastorelle Sisters better!

The mosaic of Mary Mother of the Good Shepherd
The figure of Mary Mother of the Good Shepherd is an image that was very dear to our Founder, Fr. James Alberione. In it he sees the model of the pastoral care that he entrusts to us, Pastorelle. The mosaic represents a true synthesis of the pastoral spirituality that animates us.
• The Virgin is portrayed in an attitude of great simplicity and sweetness, in the act
of offering “fresh grass” to the sheep that come to her, an element that Fr. Alberione interprets in relation to the Word and sacraments, and to all that leads to “life in abundance” (cf. Jn 10:10). Fr. Alberione understood Mary’s mission as the “threefold cooperation” with Jesus Good Shepherd: shepherding, guarding and guiding the flock with the simplicity, laboriousness, goodness and everyday life of the “shepherd”. She pleads and intercedes for the Pastorella who feels the needs of the entire people of God, and lives her ministry making herself mother and sister to all.
• In front of Mary we see Jesus the young Shepherd in the midst of the sheep in the act of welcoming them with love. Contemplating the face of Jesus allows us to understand the mission entrusted to him by the Father: to shepherd the flock even unto laying down his life for the flock (cf. Jn. 10:18).
Fr. Alberione used to exhort the Pastorelle to imitate the young shepherd by way of instructing, giving good example, grace, and making theirs the spirit of Jesus good Shepherd who knows and gives his life for the flock.
• Standing near Mary, respectively on the left and the right, are the apostles Peter
and Paul. The two greatest apostles of the Church. Both are in the midst of the flock, engaged in their effort of gathering the sheep and showing them the Way: Jesus, the young shepherd and Mary the shepherdess.
From Peter the Pastorelle learn how to serve God’s flock gratuitously and with joy, faithful to Christ and to the Church. From Paul, they learn the courage to search for a pastoral ministry that is in dialogue with history and all it various cultural expressions.
• The flock is very numerous and is placed at the centre, and here the attention and
interests of the different figures converge. The sheep are walking towards Jesus; they listen to his voice and hear themselves called by name (cf. 10:3-4). The Pastorelle Sisters feel the compassion of Jesus for those who still do not believe or are far from him, and to them they turn with special care.

What strikes you most today?
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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!