I began the pilgrimage in a mood of expectant floundering. Three years into my retirement from the University of Delaware, I am finding my way into the rhythm and activity of the rest of my life. I have a mission as a Pauline Cooperator. I love the Pauline charism, I love Blessed James Alberione, I feel a fierce desire to help continue what he began in response to his interior vision from Jesus Master. But what is my next step? What is a Pauline Cooperator? What do I do, and with whom? Expectant floundering, at its best!
The picture at the top of this essay shows the Cathedral of Alba, where Blessed Alberione experienced his call from Jesus Master during the Night Between the Centuries. Our pilgrimage took us to this and many other sites that are of great importance to the Pauline Family. On our last day, we visited the open tomb of Blessed Alberione himself. In reflecting on everything that happened on the pilgrimage, here are my first responses:
1) I am reading Tametsi Futura, the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII that had such an impact on the young James Alberione. I decided to do this today, and in looking it up, lo and behold I discover that it was issued on this date, November 1 -- All Saints Day -- in 1900. No wonder it was fresh on Blessed Alberione's mind on the Night Between the Centuries! It had just been issued, and the young seminarian was just soaking up its message.
Take a look below at the opening paragraph of Tametsi Futura. How relevant it is for us today! Having just come from Rome, where thousands of people crowded the streets and churches of Vatican City, I can relate not only to the opening lines about the tenor of the times, but the later hope Pope Leo expresses about the revival of interest in all things holy. How odd it was to see, in the midst of what we are told is a very secularized Italy, the pilgrims from all around the world on their knees, in prayer, standing in long lines, cheering the Pope, and otherwise showing signs that although Christ may be hidden, He is not unsought. Pope Leo XIII writes:
2) I'd like to organize a weekly 24-hour Adoration from Pauline Cooperators and friends from around the world. Each Monday is dedicated to St. Paul. Could we not each make a commitment to spend one hour each Monday in A Visit to the Lord, in front of the Blessed Sacrament whether exposed or not as we can find in our local area?
The outlook on the future is by no means free from anxiety; on the contrary, there are many serious reasons for alarm, on account of numerous and long-standing causes of evil, of both a public and a private nature. Nevertheless, the close of the century really seems in God's mercy to afford us some degree of consolation and hope. For no one will deny that renewed interest in spiritual matters and a revival of Christian faith and piety are influences of great moment for the common good. And there are sufficiently clear indications at the present day of a very general revival or augmentation of these virtues.
For example, in the very midst of worldly allurements and in spite of so many obstacles to piety, what great crowds have flocked to Rome to visit the "Threshold of the Apostles" at the invitation of the Sovereign Pontiff! Both Italians and foreigners are openly devoting themselves to religious exercises, and, relying upon the indulgences offered by the Church, are most earnestly seeking the means to secure their eternal salvation. Who could fail to be moved by the present evident increase of devotion towards the person of Our Saviour?
The ardent zeal of so many thousands, united in heart and mind, "from the rising of the Sun to the going down thereof," in venerating the Name of Jesus Christ and proclaiming His praises, is worthy of the best days of Christianity. Would that the outburst of these flames of antique faith might be followed by a mighty conflagration! Would that the splendid example of so many might kindle the enthusiasm of all! For what so necessary for our times as a widespread renovation among the nations of Christian principles and old-fashioned virtues? The great misfortune is that too many turn a deaf ear and will not listen to the teachings of this revival of piety. Yet, "did they but know the gift of God," did they but realise that the greatest of all misfortunes is to fall away from the World's Redeemer and to abandon Christian faith and practice, they would be only too eager to turn back, and so escape certain destruction.
Many of you -- many of us -- already make A Visit daily. I thought that how wonderful it would be if the Cooperators cooperated to have a 24-hour praise and adoration to the Blessed Trinity each Monday, a prayer rising to the Father through Jesus Master, in union with the Holy Spirit, asking that we discern how we might best, individually and as a group of lay Paulines, continue Blessed Alberione's vision of using the means of social communication to evangelize the world. We can ask Blessed Alberione, Venerable Thecla Merlo, Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, and all of the Paulines who have gone before to join us in this prayer.
Who's up for it? This is my first call. Pass the word. I will be "taking names" as they say, and filling out a schedule hopefully to cover all 24 hours, setting Greenwich Mean Time as the standard for converting everyone's individual local hour.