Blessed James Alberione

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Almost fifty years after its initial partial publication, this book, now in a new revised edition, warrants more and more the fame it has acquired and the subtitle definition given it, Charismatic history of the Pauline Family. This book in fact is a vibrant expression of a new experience in the Church, one which grew out of an authentic charism and became enfleshed in the multiform religious institution known as the Pauline Family.
This document throws light on all the personal events of Fr James Alberione, as both a man and a Founder, as well as on the individual works started and animated by him. We can liken it to a Book of the beginnings surfacing in the river of Church History, midway between hagiography and the canonical-theological report of an ecclesial foundation. In any case, it throws real light on the motivating factors that have guided the life and the works of one of the most prolific Founders of modern times.
1. The text’s genesis and changes of fortune

As to the origin of the text we have the first-hand 19821 testimony of Fr Giovanni Roatta:
Our Founder wrote Abundantes divitiæ, the book-summary of his basic inspirations, in these circumstances.
We were approaching the 40th anniversary of our Congregation (1914-1954), and some of us (Fr [Valentino] Gambi, Fr [Renato] Perino, and Fr [Giovanni] Roatta) thought it opportune to take advantage of it to attain a deeper understanding of our Pauline vocation and of our Founder: both for the sake of our members and for the general public. One day I myself [Fr Roatta] presented this idea to the Founder. He replied: ‘Do as the Holy Spirit inspires you. True, we have as yet neither written nor published anything; but I have already had reminders (from Fr Guido Pettinati in Argentina and from others) on the need to make something known about what God has done among us. I think this is the time to do so.’
We looked for other contributors and set to work. For some months we were fully engaged right up to the beginning of 1954.
At one stage Fr Alberione called me and said simply: ‘I would like it to be known and I regard it as important: that after my death there be no more talk about me, but only of Saint Paul: he is our Founder, our model, our father, the one who inspires us. This needs to come out clearly in the work you have started.’ I nodded and we went on with our work. Not long afterwards he called me again and I had another surprise. He showed me a number of rather large-sized originals written in his own small handwriting and then handed them over to me. He said: ‘See if these are of any use to you.’ They were the manuscript of what would become the book Abundantes divitiæ. We read them with more than passing interest but, with the work so far advanced, we could no longer count much on them in the various articles. Nor was it immediately possible for us to grasp the importance and value of his memoirs.
I kept the manuscript right up to the end of our work which resulted in the publication of the rather large-sized Mi protendo in avanti (summer of 1954). Then we started putting in order all the material we had used up to that time. Fr Maggiorino Povero, who had contributed to the work as regards the photos, asked me to give him the abovementioned manuscript so as to keep everything in order. I was quite happy to do so. I saw those memoirs re-appear only a long time later [in 1969, on the occasion of the Special General Chapter], when they were published, the first time, for private circulation, for the use of the Chapter members in particular, with the title Io sono con voi.
Consequently, reading again and again those simple and sparse pages of Abundantes divitiæ, I have become more and more convinced of the exceptional importance of those memoirs for our history, for our charism and for our spiritual journey which has seen God bring to birth and give increase to our religious Family.
Divine Master House, Ariccia, 10 January 1980.


The text does not make for easy reading since it is made up primarily of various layers of notes. The first layer is a manuscript (ms) text consisting of loose sheets, with no fixed numbering; the second is a typewritten (ds) text which varies in numerous points from the original, but which certainly has the same Alberionian paternity. This represents the second revised drafting.
The ms is a makeup of 39 sheets: 18 measure 18x24 cm; a further 18 measure 11.3x17 cm. Two measure 15x17.8 cm and one is 9.3x14.5 cm. Two of these sheets are cut and glued into four pages. Moreover, of these 39 sheets, 29 are written on one side only; seven are written on both sides; one has on the back the headings of the financial income report for November 1952 while another two have passages crossed out (perhaps a first draft). The written pages thus number 46 (plus two crossed out). Moreover, 31 of the 39 pages have double numbering, while a further eight have three distinct numberings, written by those who attempted to give the pages a logical or progressive historical order.
The first use of the ms was in view, as we have said, of the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of the Pious Society of Saint Paul. We find Fr Alberione’s thinking on this subject expressed also in parallel writings of the time, as in the San Paolo in-house bulletin.2 The ms was then partially used for editing the history photo album Mi protendo in avanti (1954). In 1969 a more polished version was printed for the use of those taking part in the Special Chapters of the Pious Society of Saint Paul and of the Daughters of Saint Paul. Its title was Io sono con voi.3
In 1971 this text came out with the new title of Abundantes divitiæ gratiæ suæ: Storia carismatica della Famiglia Paolina [abbreviation AD], edited by Fr Giuseppe Barbero, who published the first factual edition of a historical nature, complete with explanatory footnotes. In the second edition of this work (Rome 1975, pp. 6-7), Fr Barbero added further details on the formation of AD, where he compared the two drafts of the original, that is, the manuscript text and the typewritten one, seeking to harmonize or to integrate them.
A new critical edition, enlarged with the addition of numerous appended texts, was published in 1985 and edited by Ezechiele Pasotti and Luigi Giovannini. This edition, part of the new series of the Opera Omnia, was based on the manuscript and included a rigorous critical apparatus.
In view of a reprint, we felt it appropriate to adopt not the manuscript text but the follow-up typewritten text. This had been revised, corrected and approved by Fr Alberione and can be thus considered more in tune with his definitive thought. Likewise, the critical apparatus has been scaled down and excludes all typographical signs except the footnote numbers. The wealth of explanatory and historical notes in the 1985 edition, as well as the appended texts, with the sole exception of the introductory details of some of them, have been retained.
2. The title

The phrase Abundantes divitiæ gratiæ suæ is taken from the letter to the Ephesians (2:7). The Author wrote it at the top of the first page of the ds. It is a Pauline expression dear to Fr Alberione and, like John 14:6, represents one of the pivots of his spirituality.
Right from the beginning John and Paul are indivisible in the soul of the Pauline Family. The two apostles are often quoted in AD, and the whole passage of Ephesians 2:5-7 in particular (AD 4) aims to list all the riches of the new institution and those bestowed on the Founder, evoked in the context of events and ideas ranging from the end of 1800 up to 1954. We shall reflect on these riches shortly. Meanwhile, let us observe that the title AD throws a biblical and Pauline light on what the Author narrates about himself and his work, experienced and lived as God’s work.
The scriptural quotations evoke a journey of faith, almost a biblical exodus; and certainly they explain the development of a work willed from on high for the 20th century; an undertaking guided by Providence (cf. AD 43, 45) right up to its maturation.
Even before he narrates anything about the humble origins of the institution, Fr Alberione is mindful of who he is. He is a person who is guided, a half-blind man, who is being led [by God]; and in moving along he is enlightened from time to time, so that he can proceed further (AD 202); he is a servant under obedience and, at the same time, he is mindful of the fact that he is a spiritual guide and a Teacher for his own followers. In all of this there is, on his part, no pointless withdrawal into himself nor any self-satisfaction in his own gifts.
3. Problems regarding interpretation

We mentioned how AD came to birth as an occasional writing, one requested for a fortieth anniversary celebration. But such a circumstance already places it in the category of memoirs, and posits a number of questions on its value and on the criteria for interpreting it.

a) Is it an autobiography?
The Dictionnaire de Spiritualité devotes a noteworthy study4 to the definition of Autobiography, citing examples of authors, titles and criteria in view of an explanation. It quotes such famous autobiographies as those of Gregory Nazianzen5 and the Confessions of Augustine, in the fourth century; the Life of Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) and the Story of the vocation and mission (or Story of a Pilgrim) of Ignatius of Loyola,6 in the sixteenth century. Closer to us is the well-known Story of a Soul of Thérèse Martin (of the Child Jesus), who was recently honored with the title of Doctor of the Church, like her great Patron, thanks to the spiritual teaching contained in her autobiographical writings.
But rather than these examples, perhaps the model that Fr Alberione follows most closely, if not in style then in spirit, is that of Saint Paul. There is the same humility of the convert; the same gratitude to Christ who has taken him out of darkness to make him an instrument of his Light; the same ultimate goal: to glorify God’s mercy and to undertake a work of evangelization. Paul, too, preached the Gospel narrating his spiritual experiences. In speaking of his visions, he used the third person (cf. 2 Cor 13:3-4). Although played down by the Apostle because of the weakness within which the power of the Lord is made manifest (cf. 1 Cor 12:9), visions are certainly a highly significant testimony, even if difficult to communicate to others who have no such experience of them.
Fr Alberione probably found himself in a situation similar to Paul’s. The experience of spiritual gifts is of itself unrepeatable: What effect might it have if narrated to others? This explains his reluctance to manifest personal secrets. We feel that what induced him to write about such matters was his desire to pass on to others the best of himself; that is, to pass on what God accomplished in him and through him in favor of the Christian community. And if the Pauline Family is the heir of such a legacy then it will be in a position to understand and treasure AD in its true meaning.

b) Is it a story?
Here we could ask if the best viewpoint for interpreting AD might not be that of the Author himself. Fr Alberione recounts a series of remembrances, wherein we can bring together the elements, the direction and the meaning of a story. What he intends to leave to his Family is a story of God rather than a teaching or a narrative of human events. A story that must be recognized as being guided from on high – a sacred story – that must be further developed through the efforts of his followers.
From a critical point of view there can be questions, for example, as regards the non-verifiable historicity of his dreams or additional details concerning the famous night that bridged 1900-1901 (cf. AD 13). Whatever, certain such experiences mark the whole of one’s life. Perhaps there was such powerful enlightenment on the part of Christ present that it changed the life of Fr Alberione, as it did that of Paul. Such an experience of the Spirit is what is called in present-day theology charism of the Founder: a light experienced personally, but a light to be shared. It is obvious that, even on the historical level, it constitutes a significant datum and entails consequences for all who recognize in such an experience their own charismatic roots.7
If so, what then are the criteria for correctly interpreting AD? We shall attempt a few brief answers further on. Meanwhile we shall take the liberty of developing a reflection on the sobriety of Fr Alberione’s narration.
The basic viewpoint that emerges from a reading of AD seems to be well expressed by the word distance. A distance or detachment of the Author from himself so as to allow the facts to speak for themselves; distance, too, from the events that he observes all around, and from the major currents of ideas and praxes of his time. He distances himself so as to see, understand and evaluate better the riches that God has showered on him and on the Family he founded.
We come to understand Fr Alberione’s experiences by way of identification or empathy. We must learn to interpret reality with his eyes, to do away with every veil, except that of the humility typical of those Piedmontese farmers, a group that Fr Alberione was proud to align himself with (cf. AD 125): ordinary persons, tireless people, whose perception is immediate, because it is fixed on the reality of everyday life.
AD then appears to us as a great landscape, to be traveled over, not just contemplated, following routes both old and new, beyond the rim of the horizon, in the perspective of eternity.
Eternity! A vision of everything in God, in eternal life, through the light of glory (AD 194). This is the lofti-est and the most inclusive observation post.
From such a perspective, the narration of the over-flowing riches of grace... to be revealed in the centuries to come by religious women and men, [these] new angels of the earth (AD 4), takes on the characteristic of a handbook of prayer and meditation, like an inspired text. To read AD is a little like reading Saint Paul: we are admitted to contemplate the reality of God and the world in a greater light, that light radiated by the Master (AD 153): the light of the risen Jesus, the same light that enlightened Saul (AD 159) on his conversion journey from Jerusalem to Damascus, from the Old to the New Testament.
In summary, our approach to the reading of AD will be objective and fruitful to the degree we adopt not only a historical perspective but also a biblical and charismatic one. Only thus shall we be able to gather all the riches of gifts or of grace that are being offered to us here.
4. The riches of the Pauline Family

In AD Fr Alberione comes across as a man inspired, just like Saint Paul does when he narrates to his readers his own experiences. Both Paul and Fr Alberione communicate the charis, the gift and the fragrance of their con-secration, which has made them apostles and prophets of Christ.
Perhaps prophet might be the best word to describe Fr Alberione. He experiences being such – and he will develop this later on – when under God’s guidance he recalls his own particular mission and that of his Family in the present-day world. For us his prophecy consists here in his witness to the abundant riches which these pages help us rediscover and reevaluate.

a) Riches of nature and of grace
In our typewritten text Fr Alberione uses the words grace, supernatural sense, holiness, and mission to indicate the transition to wholeness: from nature to grace, from reason to faith. We need to be raised up, welcom-ing God’s call to a particular mission, so as to raise up everyone and everything; so as to bring the truth of the Gospel to everyone.
This ministry of truth and of grace is strengthened by a person’s being raised to the consecrated life, the true enrichment of all those who become religious women and men in order to pursue the highest perfection, the perfection of those who also practice the evangelical counsels – and to the rewards of the apostolic life... [so as] to give more cohesion, stability and continuity, [not to mention] a more supernatural sense to the apostolate (AD 24).
For Fr Alberione, the starting point of every apostolic vocation is to perceive, in an atmosphere of faith and zeal, the concern that was Paul’s: to bring human beings to God and God to human beings. What opens the eyes and the heart of apostles is pity, enabling them to perceive – as was true of the Virgin of Pentecost, the Queen of Apostles – that the world needs Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life (AD 182).
Our specific mission is also a grace, a communication of God’s riches for the salvation of the world; it is this grace, too, that illumines with a theological meaning the regulations regarding the apostolate and formation, and the very Constitutions of the individual Pauline Institutes.
Fr Alberione is inspired to model his life program on the primacy of grace or holiness, another word that expresses the same reality. In the dream... he seemed to have an answer. In truth Jesus Master was saying: ‘Do not be afraid, I am with you. From here I want to enlighten. Be sorry for sins.’ He spoke about it with his Spiritual Director, mentioning the light in which the figure of the Master was enfolded. His reply was: ‘Keep calm; dream or otherwise, what you heard are holy words; make them a practical program of life and light for yourself and for all the members’ (AD 152-154).
A further gift of grace for Fr Alberione was the discovery of Saint Paul, before whom he remained wonderstruck: his personality, his holiness, his heart, his intimacy with Jesus (AD 64): the universal apostle, a model of holiness and of dedication to the Gospel. Hence the rule: The first concern in the Pauline Family will be holiness of life, and the second [will be] holiness of doctrine (AD 90). Pauline experience will always bear witness to the fact that exte-rior action derives from an interior action of grace. Thus, everything: nature, grace and vocation, for the apostolate (AD 100). Mission is love for peoples. Without intimacy with the Lord it is not really possible to become apostles.
And so the examination of conscience, especially in times of particular difficulty, focuses on possible im-pediments to the work of grace, which are to be uprooted to make room for the presence of the Divine Master in the house. With him it becomes possible to grow in wisdom, age and grace, right up to the fullness and perfect age of Jesus Christ (cf. AD 160); right on up to identification with him, or to Christification.

b) Richness of historical perspectives
Side by side with the events of grace narrated in these memoirs of his are the further riches which seem to lie precisely in the vast sweep of history itself.
Fr Alberione’s own history is a twofold story, which he goes back over in a context of meditation and prayer: It is the story of God’s Mercy, so as to sing a marvelous Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus. And then, the humiliating story of his lack of conformity to the overabundance of divine love and [his need] to compose a new and sorrowful Miserere... (AD 1).
History has the Creator as its key-player. It is a teacher that always goes on teaching; perhaps we could better say that it is a continual lesson of the Divine Master. Hence the young Alberione passionately studies the sweep of History: World History, Church History, History of World Literature, the History of Art, of War, of Navigation, of Music in particular, of Law, of Religions, and of Philosophy.
The study of history confirmed his belief in the universality of salvation and hence of mission. From the study and then from the teaching of history he learned to think big, ecumenically. What resulted from this was a corresponding commitment on the level of action: the decision to intervene effectively within his own sphere of life, not as a follower but as a leader, as a founder of an institution whose goal is to reach everyone apostolically. This is why, in narrating AD, Fr Alberione inserts his own personal story in the universal history of salvation.
Having become a public person by calling, he no longer intends to backtrack into privacy. He lives his vocation to the priesthood, which he was conscious of from early childhood, as a call to corresponsibility for the salvation of the world. Hence, he understands the need to prepare himself since in view of one’s own salvation and in view of a more fruitful apostolate one needs to develop the whole human personality: mind, will and heart (AD 22).
Circumstances, even the most sorrowful, help him to grow and to act more effectively for the good of others.
To make history with the Church of one’s own time means to journey with human beings in the following of Christ. This gives a sure sense of direction in the midst of many cultural trends, among them progressives and conservatives, disciples of the Gospel and teachers of dubious authority. Fr Alberione learns to think and to work pastorally.
Throughout AD he continually cites events and historical dates. They all show the importance that Fr Alberione attaches to the historicization of his work; in other words, to working out salvation history together with the people of his own generation. He is ready to live dangerously and, if needs be, to pay personally in order to remain faithful to the task entrusted to him by Providence.
In the personal ups and downs of Fr Alberione’s existence there are times when his life is in danger as a result of his excessive work. It is in the midst of a serious health crisis, which seems to irreparably compromise the continuity of his work, that he experiences that nothing is possible without God, and that life is to be gambled on faith.
To push ahead with faith along new roads, urged on by an apostolic spirit that revives the missionary and organizational thrust of Paul, becomes thus a further expression of salvation history and, in our case, a charismatic paradigm for the whole Pauline Family.

c) Richness of spiritual themes
The mind, will, heart triad offers us abundant wealth on the anthropological level. The whole human person exists for God and for the world. Just as the whole human person is saved in the totality of her or his make-up, so the whole personal wealth of human gifts is to be spent for the apostolate. Formation, too, must be whole: The whole person in Jesus Christ, in view of loving God completely: intelligence, will, heart, and physical strength (AD 100).
Then there is a theological and ascetical wealth to be found in the way, truth and life devotion and method that allows a person to assume the whole Christ in an integral way. Hence, the Pauline Family strives to fully live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Way, Truth and Life, in the spirit of Saint Paul... (AD 93). Likewise, prayer, formation, the apostolate and studies are to be always directed and cultivated in such a way that Jesus Christ, our Divine Mas-ter, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, be ever more known and understood by us and that Christ be more com-pletely formed in our mind, will and heart. Thus we shall become skillful masters of souls, because we have been, first, humble and diligent disciples of Christ (AD 98).
The whole God: the Trinity. Fr Alberione does not often mention the Holy Spirit; he opts mostly for grace. But everything must conclude on Sunday in one great ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus’ in honor of the Blessed Trinity, [words] sung by the angels, as Jesus Christ’s program of life, apostolate and redemption: the Pauline lives in Jesus Christ(AD 183).
The Church, understood globally as Christ’s Body, the people of God and a hierarchical guide, is an inexhaustible wealth. The Church is the summit of God’s riches: she sums up the whole doctrine of the Master, his example and his life. From its beginnings the Pauline Family has drawn from the Church, that is, from when it was decided to open a foundation in the center of Christianity. We are in Rome to experience better the fact that the Pauline Family is at the service of the Holy See; to draw our doctrine, spirit and apostolic action in a more direct way from the Source, the Papacy. Rome is the world’s teacher; all the same she holds open her doors to humanity; from Rome go forth those who are sent in all directions (AD 115).
5. Between history and the present time

AD was written in 1953. In the span of those months the proverbial ongoing activity of Fr Alberione reached its peak. Around him was a ferment of undertakings – a drive on all fronts. Accustomed from adolescence to breathe the air of wide open spaces and to perceive signs from the universal Church, he found the springtime revival following the peace of 1945 and endorsed by the charismatic authority of Pope Pius XII more than congenial.
Far-reaching initiatives blended with local movements that had a strong popular impact, such as the crusade for a Better World and the Peregrinatio Mariæ. These were symptomatic of a wider revival, encouraged by the 1950 Jubilee Year and the 1954 Marian Year. The theological debates and the timid signs of reform – liturgical, pastoral, and so on – which marked the Church’s journey in those years are well known. Fr Alberione strove to play his part with articles in Vita Pastorale, Orizzonti e Madre di Dio, in favor of, for example, pastoral renewal and a revival of Marian devotion, with the proposal of a dogmatic definition of Mary’s universal mediation. Controversies, coupled with suffering, vetos and socio-political tensions – all these prepared the climate for Vatican II.
Nor did the great national and international political events of that period escape Fr Alberione (for example, the Cold War and the events concomitant with the death of Stalin in 1953). His sources were the newspapers and, occasionally, contact with people directly involved in public life. It is well-known that Fr Alberione was not easily swayed one way or another, and that he followed the Church’s orientation by finding inspiration in the Gospel and looking at matters, as from on high, with God’s eyes.
It was within this framework that he carried out his most intense activity as a Founder, struggling with immediate problems, as, for example, the finishing work and the adornment of the Regina Apostolorum Shrine, which he wanted to inaugurate during the Marian Year. Supervision of the work and his concerns for its expense were such as to take up a great part of his time and energy. This was, however, but one external aspect of his activities. Even more worrisome was his concern for all the churches (cf. 2 Cor 11:28); his concern, in other words, for the spiritual structure of the Pauline Family, which at that time was not only in the phase of being juridically constituted, but was still incomplete as regards its membership, since the Congregation of the Apostoline Sisters and the aggregated Institutes ha not yet been founded.
The process for the canonical approval of the Pauline Congregations for women was proceeding quickly, following the serious 1946-1948 crisis that had threatened the very existence of the Pious Disciple Sisters. On 15 March 1953 the Daughters of Saint Paul received their pontifical approval and on 22 April 1953 the Sisters of Jesus the Good Shepherd received diocesan approval. But that did not stop the Founder from making his presence felt or hurrying the process along when difficulties loomed or matters came to a standstill.
At the same time Fr Alberione was making provision for the spiritual and apostolic formation of the communities. He committed himself to a catechesis that he developed in the meditations and sermons he gave almost daily to the groups present in the Rome area, and especially to the communities gathered in the crypt of the Shrine. These ongoing cycles of sermons, from 1952 to 1954, interrupted only by his trips, make up a process of formation that foreshadows the talks of Ariccia (cf. Ut perfectus sit homo Dei, 1960) and offer us anew a basic interpretation of the fundamental values of our charism.
Meanwhile, there was the ongoing organization of the apostolate, promoted by Fr Alberione with initiatives that emerged in those months and that were a prophetic foreshadowing of such future developments as, for example, the establishment of the Publications Centers at national and international levels (Publications Office for Italy, Publications Office for Spanish-speaking countries...); the Distribution Centers or rational promotion; the undertaking of catechetical documentaries and the production of such full length films as Mater Dei, Il Figlio dell’Uomo, and so on.
Last, but not least, he was deeply involved in visiting and animating his communities abroad by means of his great intercontinental travels. He undertook his most demanding and stressful visit, begun in the immediate post-war period, with his first trip to America (1946), followed by his circumnavigation of the globe, from East to West (1949) and resumed in 1952-1953 with a further visit to the East, Oceania and the American continent. During such travels – as the Superiors General of the Daughters of Saint Paul and of the Pious Disciples, Maestra Tecla and Madre Lucia Ricci, who accompanied him can testify – Fr Alberione faced such critical health problems as to cast doubt on his survival. But he refused to change his travel arrangements or program, concerned only to fulfill the commitments he had made to the communities waiting at the next stage. A document that reflects the spirit that governed his travels consists of personal notes drafted on the plane: outlines of prayers, such as the Invocations to Jesus Master that he penned while flying over the Andes, or reflections of a missionary nature, as the notes on the religious situation of the peoples as observed from on high, while he flew over the Himalayas and the Indian sub-continent (cf. the articles in San Paolo devoted to such trips and collected in Carissimi in San Paolo, pp. 1007-1043).
In between one trip and another Fr Alberione was writing AD. It is difficult to exclude from his observations his idea of today and the world, which he scanned not as a tourist, but with the penetrating eye of the apostle and prophet. Events, experienced from within or read about in the newspapers, became a source of meditation. From Canon Chiesa he had learned to transform everything into a theme of meditation and prayer before the Divine Master – a prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, atonement and supplication (AD 68).
Every apostolic opening must be preceded by a period of information-gathering. Such knowledge results in a programming that ranges worldwide.
6. Concluding points and reading suggestions

In conclusion, we would suggest the following points to help the reader draw profit from reading AD and apply it to our contemporary situation it in a correct way:
a) As with all things that evolve, many events narrated or simply hinted at in AD acquire full significance only in the follow-up they have had in the later activities and writings of the Founder. Of primary importance, therefore, for an understanding of AD are the fifty Instruc-tions given by Fr Alberione at Ariccia in the extended exercises of 1960, and republished in a single volume in Ut perfectus sit homo Dei (also in English, Opera Omnia, Rome 1998). This book, which to some degree integrates AD, forms with it perhaps the Founder’s testament for the authentic interpretation of his legacy.
b) If we are to enter effectively into the stream of charismatic history initiated by him, it is not sufficient to repeat literally, in today’s world and in the various cultural contexts in which the Pauline Family lives and works, what the Founder wrote in 1953.
c) If we are to establish continuity with the riches of the text we need to continually update our mental outlook and our praxis. Thus, even as we work in our own environment, we need to move with the times, advance, be organized, mentally explore the future, and so on.
d) Visions, inspirations or dreams, too, are useful for discovering God’s will, over and beyond the limitations of an arid intellectualism, a suffocating legalism or a scientism from which the supernatural or grace have been excluded.
e) Ongoing discernment is indispensable. Such insight can take the form of spiritual direction, advice, and reading geared to one’s own growth and to a clear-sighted pastoral view of the world’s needs.
f) We must not be afraid to adopt a progressive and modern mentality – a daily effort to strain ahead in the fulfillment of our apostolic vocation.
g) If we are to develop as a Family, in such a way as to effectively realize the missionary and spiritual program of Saint Paul alive today, then cooperation among the institutions and with the laity is a prerequisite.
h) We need to come to a new appreciation of narra-tion as a literary genre, as a vehicle for communicating the message of the Divine Master, in the style of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.
i) Lastly, we need to come to a new appreciation of the study of history, not just as a recollection of the past, but also as magistra vitæ [a teacher of life]: a mandatory way for making our Pauline roots our own and for ensuring harmonious growth.
Such pointers as these, and others, could be summed up in even simpler expressions, such as: the primacy of the Spirit over instruments, the supernatural over the natu-ral, grace over institution; the omnipotence of faith de-spite human deficiencies: the apostle may be a fragile and inadequate person, but with God everything is possible.
In conclusion, reading AD, we are enriched with a set of memoirs and, at the same time, we catch a glimpse of a new and demanding program of things to be realized, a journey of riches still to be acquired. AD proves itself to be not only a story of past events but also a key to interpret the present and a prophecy for the future of the whole Pauline Family.
Rome, 4 April 1998.



1 Testimony given to Fr Antonio DA SILVA and published in Conoscere Don Alberione, I (1982), 35f.

2 San Paolo, July-August 1954. See the “Greeting” given to the Visitors to the Pauline Display, staged in Alba (Cuneo) in August-September 1954. There is still a copy of a Sermon of the Founder to recall the date 20 August 1914 (the foundation day of the SSP).

3 48-page pamphlet measuring 11.5 x 17.7 cm. There is no indication as to where or when it was published. The Daughters of Saint Paul published an edition, dated 2 October 1969, 56 pages, measuring 11 x 15 cm.

4 Cf. F. VERNET, Autobiographie spirituelle, in DS IV (1935) 1141-1159.

5 In the Latin translation: Poëmata Historica de Seipso, in particular the 1949 verses of poem XI.

6 Regarding Ignatius see the critical text in Monumenta Ignatiana and Fontes Narrativi I, 323-507. – This text takes on a particular interest for the incessant spiritual and psychological “discernment” that the Author carries out on himself, as well as for the fact that he adopts the third person, as Fr Alberione will do in AD.

7 Cf. Evangelica Testificatio, 11; Apostolic Exhortation of PAUL VI, in AAS (1971) 497-526; and Mutuæ Relationes 11-12, directives of the S. Congregations for Religious and Secular Institutes, and for Bishops, in AAS 70 (1978) 473-506. – F. CIARDI, I Fondatori uomini dello Spirito, Città Nuova 1982, where a study of Fr Alberione takes up several pages.