1. IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF OUR LADY, THE FIRST PIOUS DISCIPLE
Rome, Christmas Eve, 1946*
The first thing I have to do today before anything else, is to extend to you my best wishes: heartfelt best wishes to all of you and to each one of you. These are not the type of wishes that wordly people give to one another; but are wishes for goodness, charity, goodwill, faith.
It is my wish that you will understand your vocation, this most wonderful vocation of yours. Your life is so linked to the life of the priest that something occurs similar to that which occurred between Jesus and Our Lady.
I want to tell you to pray for some special needs, to obtain some extraordinary graces.
Yesterday, I read a letter that came from Poland. It was dated December 8. The letter said that they were preparing the cassock for Fr. Ravina1 and they were hoping that by Christmas, he would be freed from the clutches of those who are holding him prisoner. Let us pray.
Then, in the world there are more than 200,000,000 Muslims and there is no way of getting in amongst them. What is needed is an extraordinary grace - the grace to raise up priests for the Muslims. Do you think you could obtain this grace? You have already paved the way with the establishment of your house in Alexandria, Egypt,1 but I want you to do even more. We have given much thought to this project for some time, but the means to do this is to form priests for the Muslims. For centuries missionaries have been working among them, but those who set out have been either killed or have returned home disillusioned. They say that it is impossible, that these people are too obstinate.
Likewise, it is necessary to have priests for Japan.1 Population-wise, Japan is one and a half times Italy. Over the years, there were very few conversions because the Japanese are very obstinate. In Japan, there have been so many martyrs, thousands and thousands of them. Since you have a mission that is so linked to the priesthood, let your prayer be that the blood of so many martyrs will bear fruit for that great nation still without Jesus Christ.
Expect a great deal from the Child Jesus. He says: Do not be afraid, I am with you.1
This Jesus comes to you through Mary: Factum ex mulier (born of a woman)2. The life of Jesus and the life of Mary are bound up together. Jesus and Mary were always linked together, right from the first proclamation of salvation in the garden of Eden.3
In the cave (at Bethlehem) inveniemus Infantem cum Maria Matre eius (we found the Child with Mary his Mother)4 and always and everywhere we find Jesus with Mary, at Nazareth, at Calvary, in heaven.
It is said: The Pious Disciples are so much for the Priests. It is obvious that you have followed the example of Mary Most Holy!
May you have the ambition of your vocation. Are you imbued with this pride? This is holy pride! May you have the ambition of becoming Mothers! Spiritual Mothers of Priests.
In my travels, I wrote a booklet on this theme.1 The young women in the world who decide to marry, naturally aspire to become mothers. Young women who consecrate themselves to the Lord, young women like you, aspire to become Mothers of souls, Mothers of Priests!
Are you advanced enough in your vocation? I wish you were, and you were that, which is still absent in the Church; otherwise, there was no point in raising you up! You got two things: Eucharist and Priesthood; the Real Presence of Jesus and the Mystical Body. Spend your life between the service at the altar and the deep-set union to the priestly ministry. You must get into the spirit of the Liturgy to a greater extent and be more united to the Priesthood. Perhaps I will let you recite a part of the Breviary, so as to have a greater understanding and grasp of the Liturgy.
It is needed that there be more communication between you and me. But this does not mean that I have always to be here in your midst. I will come or I will send a person like (Signor Maestro) Fr. Timothy Giaccardo,1 my most faithful and patient collaborator.
You have a beautiful marble altar; you have really made a beautiful chapel.1 Good as it is; Jesus' first crib was very, very poor but you have prepared a beautiful abode for him. It is not for us to make Jesus observe poverty.
Make wonderful adorations just like Mary. Oh, the wonderful adorations at the crib! Think a bit of how Our Lady passed the night of the nativity. It is needed to pray but with Mary's faith, being so sure that what you ask for is already granted, that you can see it already fulfilled.
You often ask me for holy pictures with my autograph. Well, to keep you happy once and for all, I will write to each one of you. Let me have the list of your names.
My desire is to be a holy priest, pleasing to the Lord, and for you, to be his Disciples, as he wishes you to be and that you may serve Jesus in the Priesthood. Now that you have a life similar to that of Our Lady, likewise, you will have a reward similar to hers. It is good for you now also to partake in her sufferings and sorrows.1
When Our Lady presented Jesus in the temple, she heard Simeon say to her: A sword will pierce your own soul1 and this sword went ever deeper in her soul, enduring it for the whole of her life. All the sufferings of Jesus were Mary's sufferings; what Jesus suffered in his body, Mary suffered in her soul.
Take part in this vocation of Our Lady, in her ministry, in her anguish. The suffering, the cross - these will help you to improve. Jesus shall never let anyone suffer more than Mary did, and no one is holier than Mary. May you be happy if you have to suffer for something: it is your apostolate.
Hodie scietis et mane videbitis...1. Today, know that the glory of God shall appear tomorrow. Call on all the angels to come and sing with you; tell them to help you in singing your hymns. They sing much better than you and you will believe this when you will be in Paradise listening to them. Then you will join your voices to theirs in one eternal song; Mary Most Holy shall intone the Magnificat 2 and you will answer, forever.
There are 180, 185 priests in the Society of St. Paul1 and in their Masses each day, you have a more intimate participation than the others.
As soon as you are able, start the Adoration by turns and continuously.1 This has to become a prayer centre.
Participate in Mary's ministry, in her passion, - you will have a part in her song, in her joy, in her glory!
* This meditation and the successive ones (up to n. 16, excluding n. 11) were given by the Founder in the Chapel of the Daughters of St. Paul, where the whole community was present, including the Pious Disciple novices and some professed sisters. It was a delicate moment wherein Fr. Alberione had to state the truth in its opportuned clarity and required prudence.
1 Fr. Ravina Domenico M. Tarcisio (1909-1982), Pauline priest; the Pious Disciples who returned to Poland in 1946, found Fr. Ravina in prison in Czestochowa and with courage, they helped him obtain his freedom.
1 House in Alexandria, Egypt: In November 1936, the Pious Disciples began their community for the Eucharistic Adoration and the possible exercise of their apostolate. For various reasons including those socio-political, they had to leave Egypt in November 1949. In the Calendario Atlante De Agostini, the Muslims numbered 690 millions in 1990.
1 The first foundation of the Pious Society of St. Paul in Japan was in 1934. The Pious Disciples began their life in Japan in May of the Holy Year 1950.
1 cf. J. Alberione, Abundantes Divitiae gratiae suae, 152.
2 Gal. 4,4.
3 cf. Gen.3, 15.
4 cf. Mt. 2,11. The exact text is: invenerunt puerum cum Maria Matre eius.
1 The citation is not clear. cf. A. Damino, Bibliografia di don G. Alberione. 2nd edit., Rome 1984, p. 34, n. 40.
1 The Pauline priest Joseph Timothy Giaccardo (1896-1948) was called Signor Maestro; he was beatified on October 22, 1989. He was made responsible by the Founder to accompany the Pious Disciples in the preparation needed for the juridical recognition of their Institute.
1 The chapel of the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master in their residence in the Pauline house, which was then on Via Grottaperfetta 56, Rome.
1 It was a time of particular difficulty for the attainment of autonomy.
1 Lk. 2, 35.
1 cf. Ex. 16, 6-7: vespere scietis...et mane videbitis gloriam Domini.
2 cf. Lk. 1,46-55.
1 The Pauline priests were 559 as of January 25, 1990.
1 Specific duty of the Pious Disciples: Eucharistic Adoration, continuous day and night as possible (cf. Constitutions of the Pious Disciples, 1985, n. 79).