Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ordinary Time, Extraordinary Faith

Brother Richard Brunner, SSP
(1945-2014)
As July draws to a close, I have two models of holiness in my thoughts. One is among the first Christian saints, Martha of Bethany, and the other a holy member of the Pauline Family I was blessed to know for the past decade and who died exactly a year ago yesterday, Brother Richard Brunner. When I first made my promise as a Pauline Cooperator, although I did not know him at all, he made a point to come over and welcome us into the Pauline Family. Brother Richard was both gracious and gregarious, a welcoming presence at all times. Like Saint Martha, he made great effort to make everyone feel welcomed at the various Pauline Family gatherings. Pictured here, his smile and openness project the welcoming character of his presence. I could almost see him in the kitchen–had he lived in Martha’s time–cheering and supporting her efforts in preparing for her guests.
 
Brother Richard’s biography describes him as “a man with a gentle spirit and great strength. He was loved by all those who were lucky enough to get to know him.” The biography went on to enumerate how Brother Richard contributed to the many aspects of the Society of Saint Paul’s worldwide media ministry in the over five decades since he made his first vows:
From 1981 to 1984 and again from 1989 to 1998 he was director of the Alba House Bookstores in the Southern Park and Eastwood Malls as well as the store on the congregation's property in Canfield. When stationed in Staten Island, NY, he participated in all aspects of the congregations book publishing ministry. He held in the course of his life many key administrative positions in the Society of St. Paul, including being general director of the Society in the United States from 2011-2012. At the time of his death he was director of the Society of St. Pauls Staten Island community. He helped promote and distribute millions of books, pamphlets and religious materials that deepened the faith, strengthened the spirituality and gave hope to countless people around the world.
Until now, I never connected Brother Richard with todays feast of Saint Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary of Bethany. She is most often remembered as the woman who is corrected by Jesus in response to her complaint that her sister, Mary, should be helping her with preparations for the guests. However, the usual overall message of the passage is that there must be a balance between the practical and the intellectualthat we each are not just like Mary or like Martha, but both sisters at once, striving for a balanced life which integrates both the mundane and the spiritual.

Martha, A Woman of Faith
In John 11, Scripture depicts this practical woman as well as a woman of great faith. When Jesus meets Martha after the burial of Lazarus, their conversation is about faith and salvation. This contrasts with Jesus’ meeting a few minutes later with Mary, which takes on a more emotional character with little dialogue. In that heart-breaking scene, Jesus responds simply to Mary, asking only where her brother has been buried. Jesus does not get into the details. He simply shows her what he will do.
Mother Thecla at work.

Instead, Jesus has a detailed dialogue with Martha. In spite of her feelings of loss and grief, this practical woman responds concisely to the questions posed by Jesus and demonstrates through her words that she is a true woman of faith who has heard, understood, and internalized the Good News of the Lord. In this sense, Martha’s words and actions echo the words and actions of the pre-eminent woman of faith, Mary, Mother of the Lord and Queen of Apostles. 

Martha’s story fits especially well into Ordinary Time on the Church’s liturgical calendar. She is a woman of faith who focuses on the practical matters of life. She sees the work that needs to be done, and she does it! In this sense, she is a wonderful model for all Paulines in their media ministries.

As Paulines, we hear the Good News through contemplative prayer and Scripture study. We respond, in turn, to this God-given faith and understanding by allowing it to lead us to Jesus through our respective work in the media. Our founder, Blessed James Alberione, and his collaborator, Mother Thecla, provided the finest examples to us of industrious and spiritually balanced dedication to the tasks of salvation through the modern media.

Humbly Living the Pauline Charism 
In a recent article in the Pauline Discover Hope newsletter (July 17, 2015), Sr. Mary Lea Hill, FSP, described her work as an editor in the following way:
“Blessed James Alberione, the founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, likened the editor’s work to the mission of Mary who edited God’s Word into our humanity. The editor helps an author bring his or her manuscript into the hands of today’s readers. Mary gave flesh and blood, breath and heartbeat to the Son of God. As an editor I help clothe the author’s word in today’s language and style; I guide the author through any modifications that will give breath to the work and a life that the reader will find in every word.

“At Pauline Books & Media, the work of an editor is truly a Gospel work. We are all about making the Word of God, clothed in many forms, available and accessible to those who receive it.”
Brother Richard contributed so much to this demanding Gospel work. Such ministries are rarely grandiose enterprises, but often routine, largely anonymous, sets of tasks–ordinary work in ordinary times. Yet, nothing short of the salvation of the world hangs in the balance of all this ordinary work. 

Closing Prayer
Jesus, Master, Way, Truth and Life: Enlighten our minds and hearts, and guide us to live a life of dedicated generosity and ever-increasing holiness.
_____________________________ 
Marie-Louise Handal has been a Pauline Cooperator for the past decade. She holds a Master’s Degree from St. Josephs Seminary, an M.S. in the Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and is a candidate for the S.T.L. from the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton. She also holds a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the New York Archdiocesan Center for Spiritual Development. Her professional work experience encompasses 20 years in international banking and finance, followed by a second career as a mathematics educator in Manhattan. Marie-Louise is a native New Yorker, born and raised in New York City.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Speaking the Truth--in Love

As small children, we were taught to distinguish right from wrong and that to tell a lie was on the wrong list.  Even when it was a difficult question, like “Who broke the lamp?” we knew that we were to tell the truth.  We may have been punished (I suspect most of us were, if we in fact did break the lamp), but the punishment was always worse if we lied or tried to cover up or “play dumb.”

We thought telling the truth was hard then; it seems it is getting much more difficult now.
Living an authentically Catholic life is becoming more counter-cultural with each passing day.  If any of you are on social media, you can find myriad examples of this in posts and discussions after the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the redefinition of marriage.  To say anything in defense of Catholic teaching on this matter is to be labeled “judgmental,” “bigoted,” etc.
How timely, then, was the Gospel for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, from Mark, chapter 6. Basically, Jesus returned to his “native place” and began to teach, and the response was: “‘Where did this man get all this?  Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary…?’…And they took offense at him.”
How many of us have run into this same situation, in conversations within our own families, with co-workers, neighbors, or even other fellow parishioners?  Then, when the labels of “judgmental” start flying, do we question ourselves, “Am I being judgmental?”  Perhaps we even wonder whether it’s worth the aggravation.
But, as Catholics, and particularly as members of the Pauline Family who are committed to spreading the Gospel through social communications, we are called to persevere.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks to our duty to speak the truth (CCF2471-2472):
Before Pilate, Christ proclaims that he ‘has come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.’  The Christian is not to ‘be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord.’ In situations that require witness to the faith, the Christian must profess it without equivocation, after the example of St. Paul before his judges.  We must keep a ‘clear conscience toward God and toward men.

The duty of Christians: to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it.  This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds.  Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.
Saint Augustine is quoted as saying: “The truth is like a lion.  You don't have to defend it.  Let it loose.  It will defend itself.” 

But what about being called “judgmental?” The Catechism also speaks to this (CCF 2478): 
To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: 

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it.  But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it.  And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love.  If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.
We must be prudent in when and how we do this.  The Catechism defines prudence as “the virtue which disposes a person to discern the good and choose the correct means to accomplish it.  One of the cardinal moral virtues that disposes the Christian to live according to the law of Christ, prudence provides the proximate guidance for the judgment of conscience.”

A close relationship with the Holy Spirit, through prayer, can help you discern when and whether you are called to speak.  Invoke him; he will give you the words to say. 

As Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, God has not called us to be successful, he has called us to be faithful.  So we must continue to speak the truth, in love, without blame or judgment, and be open to the outcome. 
______________________
Bernadette Boguski has been a Pauline Cooperator for over 20 years. She is a member of St. Columbkille Parish in Parma, OH, where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister, cantor, and member of the music ministry. Bernadette holds a degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and currently serves as the development director for Womankind, a nonprofit agency providing free prenatal care and support services for pregnant women in need.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mother Church!

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.  I appointed you a prophet to the nations.   – Jeremiah 1:5


Those who know me know that I really love celebrating life and birthdays.  I am thankful for the time to reminisce on the joys as well as the sorrows of the year gone by, as well as wait in joyful anticipation of the wonders that lie ahead.  This year, however, is the first year I have found myself contemplative and feeling the same enthusiasm with the birthday of the Church, at Pentecost. 

For about six months now I have been officially helping Fr. Mike Harrington and Fr. Ed Riley with the Holy Family gatherings they have been hosting, by planning and running the children’s program with the help of fellow Cooperators.  The goal of these nights has been to gather families and discuss the Scripture readings from the following Sunday liturgy.  My role in running the children’s program is to help bring the children into Scripture as well, through crafts and hands-on activities.  I really enjoy it, because even though I am not a deep theologian by any means, I can help children understand God’s Word more fully and in doing so, I find myself being drawn deeper into the beauty that is God and his love for us, for me.

One time we made candles together to understand that Jesus is our light and the darkness will not overcome it (See Jn. 1:5). Another time we planted seeds to symbolize faith: There really is a “flower” inside of them even though we can’t see it, just as Thomas questioned the Resurrection when he was not able to see Jesus. (See Jn. 20:24-29. We just passed his feast day, July 3.)

But to be honest, when it came to Pentecost, I was at a loss.  I googled, checked Pinterest, called friends for suggestions, attempted to do one activity I found online with the after-school program kids I worked with, but it failed…. It just wasn’t happening.  I read and reread the Gospel for that session but NOTHING. I was even tempted to tell Fr, Mike that I wasn’t feeling well, which wasn’t a lie. But I didn’t want to quit either.

How could I explain the Holy Spirit’s role in a way that was understandable to first-graders?

The day before our scheduled meeting, I still doubted I would come up with anything.  I once again took some time to read and reread the Scriptures and I was struck by the thought that these men were hiding and probably feeling a little like failures, as I was at that moment, until the Holy Spirit came and set their hearts on fire.  I starting thinking about their lives, their talents, the way God had called them from so many different places and how he didn’t leave them alone in their ministry. Neither would he leave me.  Then I thought, hey, maybe I should ask him to help. After all, Pentecost is one of his big moments. 

So, driving in my car, on the way to visit a friend I prayed, “Holy Spirit, you know far greater than I ever could what project I can do in my meager attempt to explain your awesomeness to those kids. Please help me!”  Suddenly I had the inspiration to have a birthday celebration for the Church. We could make cupcakes!  Well, my attempts to be healthier these days changed cupcakes with frosting and candy into Greek yogurt strawberry banana muffins with cream cheese frosting—mostly cream cheese. 

I began to think about the baking process and how it relates to Scripture: how the heat from the oven transforms the batter into something greater, a lot like the way the fire of the Holy Spirit changed those men in hiding into great evangelizers.  The image came to me how we are like the batter, with all of our talents and gifts from God, like the individual ingredients God has put into our mix. Some people are content to remain batter or enjoy their talents on the own, but in the end it can lead to Salmonella poisoning of the soul.  Instead, when we invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts, his fire is like the oven which can raise our talents to new heights, even beyond our expectations and make them into something that is enjoyed by many. 

The pieces fell together; the lesson was planned and came together quite beautifully.  I was very impressed how during our discussion the kids recalled the previous lesson about Thomas—how the Apostles were scared and hiding.  The muffins were also a big hit with the kids, and I think that the more we talked, the more deeply we were immersed into that first Pentecost. We understood better how the Holy Spirit wants to work with and through us.  On a personal level, I am still in awe and completely thankful for how much God has transformed my own life and I am very eagerly anticipating the great things he has in store for me. 

Thank you God for loving us so much.  Thank you for our Mother Church and having the gift of your Spirit within us, breathing life and helping us to grow into the beautiful fulfillment of your dreams for us.  Thank you for loving us, and for giving us the awesome gift of being able to love you back.  To you be all glory, honor and praise. Amen.

By the way, if you wanted to make your own “Holy Spirit Birthday Muffins,” follow the recipe below. If you slice fresh strawberries vertically and stand them up inverted on top of your frosted muffin, they look like tongues of fire.

Holy Spirit Birthday Muffins (Strawberry Greek Yogurt Banana Bread)
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes Servings: 1
A moist, light and fluffy strawberry banana bread with Greek yogurt.
Ingredients
·     1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
·     1 teaspoon baking powder
·     1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·     1/2 teaspoon salt
·     1/2 cup brown sugar
·     3 large over-ripe bananas (mashed)
·     2 eggs
·     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·     1/2 cup Greek yogurt
·     1 cup strawberries, sliced
Directions
1.       Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
2.      Mix brown sugar, bananas, eggs, vanilla extract, yogurt, and strawberries in another large bowl.
3.      Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
4.      Pour the mixture into a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan.

5.       Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven until golden brown and a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. (For muffins spoon batter into greased or paper lined muffin pan about 2/3 full and bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean; makes 18 muffins.)
________________________________

      Christine Dufresne has been a Pauline Cooperator for almost a year. Originally from New Bedford, MA, she served at a mission in Kentucky for 14 months before settling in Waltham, MA. In addition to being a foster parent, she has been working with children in various ways for the past 20 years and is currently a nanny for several families. She serves as a Eucharistic minister in her home parish of St. Mary’s in Waltham.



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Secret That Sister Assumpta Never Told Me!

I first met Sr. Assumpta Catalucci, FSP, at a “Birthday Party for Jesus” that she and the other Daughters of St. Paul had organized for their book and media center here in St. Louis.  She had never met my five children before, but she ushered them in from the blowing snow and warmed them instantly with her welcoming smile.  In what I would soon learn is her joyful, Energizer-Bunny-level energy, she led them to a life-size manger scene, where she helped Jeff Jr. dress as Joseph, Elizabeth as a Christmas Angel, John and Tom as shepherds, and Anne Marie as Mary.  All five gathered around Baby Jesus in the manger and had their picture taken.  Sr. Denise Cecilia brought out a huge sheet cake covered in thick, blue icing with the words, “Happy Birthday, Jesus” proclaimed boldly across the top.  The children all sat around Sr. Carmen Christi singing Christmas carols.  Finally, Sr. Assumpta pulled up a chair and read the Nativity story from Luke’s Gospel to us all.  The children were each given an individually wrapped present as they put their coats on to leave the warmth of the Pauline Books & Media Center.

I began to frequent the center more often to visit the chapel, talk with the awesome Sisters, and look for books for my wife and me and movies for the family.  Sr. Assumpta and the other Daughters of St. Paul seemed to know me well enough that they could always recommend a book that I needed at the time.  I talked about my family so often, that the Sisters frequently asked about each by name.  As my sons and daughters grew into adolescence and young adulthood, my paternal worries grew and multiplied.  I needed many more books from the psychology, self-help, spirituality, and I’m-so-confused-I-don’t-know-what-I-need sections of the bookstore.

I recall Sr. Assumpta one afternoon explaining to me that when she is not really sure where to find answers, she turns to Jesus in the Gospel and in the tabernacle.  She even shared with me a quote by Blessed Father James Alberione, the founder of the Pauline Family, which includes the Daughters of St. Paul and the Pauline Cooperators.  He advised, “When you are sad, open the Scriptures and you will find the passage that will console you. Do the same in times of doubt and fear. During every uncertainty or anxiety, the saints went to this font.”  My only serious voyages into the Gospel, other than hearing the readings at Mass, came from doing just that.  I was embarrassed to admit that I would just randomly pick a spot in the Bible, but if it was good enough for a beatified founder of a religious order, I was not as far off track as I thought.

After making longer visits to the chapel, praying more regularly, and becoming good friends with the blue nuns, I developed a true desire to not just know my Catholic faith better, but more specifically to know Jesus better.  The Sisters taught me that Pauline spirituality is not just knowing about Jesus, it’s simply knowing Jesus.  And when we know Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we cannot help but want to share him with the world.

One Advent, I discussed with Sr. Assumpta how I really wanted to read more to prepare for Christmas.  I asked her for recommendations about books, CDs, DVDs, or online Pauline blogs or podcasts that would help me to really know Christ better.  She recommended that instead of studying so much, I should set aside time during that Advent to sit quietly, in front of the Blessed Sacrament when possible, or even at home, and just listen to what the Divine Master has to teach me.  I was trying too hard to teach myself, when I simply needed to listen.  That was my best Advent ever.  And when Christmas arrived, Sr. Assumpta gave me the best Christmas present I have ever received – a beautiful black leather Bible to which she painstakingly and perfectly attached 73 index tabs, making it easy for me to find every book of the Bible.

We have several Bibles in our house, but Sr. Assumpta’s Bible sits on the table next to my chair in the family room.  The black leather cover is becoming well worn, as are many of the pages.  I read at least a little of it every day.  Sometimes I try to read an entire book through (from which I learned that St. Paul’s letter to the Romans is my favorite).  Sometimes I simply open to a random page and find myself amazed at how the words speak to my needs at the time.

Last Monday morning I sat in my chair, set my coffee on the coaster, and opened my Bible to begin reading John’s Gospel.  I was surprised not by the familiar words, “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1), but rather by the realization of just how much I have come to love Sacred Scripture.  The Bible excites me and makes me want to share it with everyone.  I smiled as I wondered how Sr. Assumpta instilled in me such a love for the Gospel, and I immediately knew the answer.

Sr. Assumpta’s secret is that she never told me that I should read the Gospel.  Instead, she showed my family and me what it means to live the Gospel.  From sharing the Gospel message with preschoolers at a Birthday Party for Jesus to leading book studies and discussions for the octogenarians in the Senior Lecture Series, she loves the Word of God infectiously.  Her non-stop crazy-busy days, her inspirational advice, and her love of every neighbor are all ways she exemplifies a Gospel centered life to the world. So do all the Daughters of St. Paul.  They bring Jesus to each of us by living the Gospel every day of their lives and inviting us to share in their Gospel joy.

So in my prayer, I ask myself and Christ how I can do the same. That’s my secret. What’s yours?
_____________________
Photos: Jeffrey E. Mathews
_____________________


Jeffrey E. Mathews, MD, has been a Pauline Cooperator since October 11, 2009. He and his wife, Carolyn, live in St. Louis, MO, and consider themselves blessed to have three sons and two daughters, two of whom still live at home. Dr. Mathews, a gastroenterologist, has a love for languages. He has studied French and Chinese in the past and he is currently studying to become more fluent in Spanish.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Of Paulines and Character

One of the constants of Father Alberione’s life was an awareness that he was meant to commit himself unreservedly to an emerging charism of the Lord, while at the same time prayerfully determining  its unfolding designs, step by step, with a truly faith-inspired humility. His earthly journey exemplified the great reality that no life is placed on this earth without graced hope for its distinct fulfillment. With the years, he came to more deeply understand that so much of that fulfillment depended on a closely lived relationship with Jesus Master. He proved himself extraordinary in seeing this through to the end of his days.

Such was echoed in a comment to Paulines in a special audience ten years ago (October 4, 2005), in which Pope Benedict perceptively observed:
“Your vanguard apostolate in a broad and complex field, offers many opportunities and entails at the same time, not a few problems.  To proclaim the Gospel  one also needs a firm personal adherence to the Divine Master. 
“It’s an activity that calls for preparation, specific competencies and constant updating, if you are to respond effectively to the challenges of the present day world...
“I recall Father Alberione’s particular devotion to the Eucharist, his listening to the Word, and his hours of prayer.  
“Enamored of God as Father Aberione was, he asked his priests, Brothers, Sisters and other Pauline members to cultivate a robust interior life, rich in balance and discernment.”  
As the Holy Father surmised, faced with today’s widespread disconnect of the spiritual and human, our specific missionary media outreach could struggle and scramble without sustained grounding in the living risen Christ. In this context, it was an unexpected and stunning delight to find a recent piece on the Web bemoaning the across-the-boards public sparseness of “character formation.” It announced that this sadly neutered topic is at the core of the current #1 best-selling book, The Road to Character.

More of a surprise was the author’s unlikely identity—a celebrated columnist of The New York Times. That such secular media stalwarts engage themselves in this serious and urgent study was for me something right out of Lourdes! An inexplicably hopeful media—and national—sign of the times. The Times columnist, David Brooks, continues to make headlines for the way his book presents the case for a societal  return to morality. Acknowledged as meticulously researched, the book poses this provocative thesis:
“We as a modern society are cultivating outwardly impressive but ultimately superficial ‘resume virtues’—not character. And it’s costing us dearly, the author concludes, both personally and communally.”
I hopped over to Amazon and the available reviews of the book, which by far, are positive. Interestingly, David Brooks, while not a Christian and comfortably secular, is sound in his understanding of key social, human, and spiritual values. The Catholic News Agency’s blog features a story about him entitled: “A priest’s powerful impact on the New York Times’ David Brooks.” It suggests that some of  the inspiration for his book came from this priest friend whom he describes as an “insanely joyful” person, a person of character who could, in turn, inspire the pursuit of character in others.

Fr. Alberione also had much to say on this subject. To him, a person of character learns to remain focused, without vacillating in his or her resolutions. In his little book, To the Pauline Families, he urged:
“Form the character of the young by educating the will. One who has a good character has an ideal to attain: to become a saint….[and] directs everything toward that goal—prayer, study, apostolate,…and docility to the one who guides.”
Those who guide the young, he says,
“should strive to form individuals of strong and decisive personalities founded upon profound convictions, with perseverance in fulfilling them. One day such an individual will influence the weak and the wavering, dominate a variety of opinions and surroundings, and be capable of attaining a personal ideal with constancy.”
Fr. Alberione may not have had the Apostle Paul in mind when he wrote those words, but he could have:
“Train yourself for devotion, for, while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future….Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity” (1Tm. 4:7, 8, 12).
May Paul gain for all Paulines a mind, will, and heart—convictions, sentiments, and human/spiritual values—for life and for eternity.
______________________
Photos - vine: Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP; tree: Mary Emmanuel Alves, FSP
______________________

Brother Aloysius Milella entered the Society of St. Paul as a candidate for the Brotherhood on the feast of St. Paul, June 30, 1946, and pronounced first vows in September 1948. Following his perpetual profession in 1953, he was assigned to the staff of the SSP family monthly, Catholic Home Messenger, published in Canfield, OH, where he would be engaged in its editorial and production sectors for 14 years. He worked briefly as the province’s vocation director, before serving as a member of the congregation’s governing body in Rome for the next 17 years.  After returning to the States in 1986, he was involved in book center ministry and then in administration, guiding its day-to-day apostolic fortunes in various communities. After a period in Dearborn, MI, he returned to Staten Island in 2012.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pauline Eucharistic Spirituality and the New Evangelization

Image of St. Paul on the Liturgical altar
circled by Paulines.
Patrick Padley, a speaker at the 2015 Catholic New Media Conference, made this insightful statement, “We are not just consumers of Christ.” Receiving communion and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are not an end in themselves. Consuming Eucharist is a call to go out to others. Father John Jay Hayes writes:
“When we eat the heavenly food of the Eucharist…we become what we eat. ‘What material food produces in our bodily life,’ the Catechism says, ‘Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life’ [No. 1392]. We, who have been made members of Christ’s body in baptism, become his members afresh in the Eucharist. The Catechism says: “Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ … preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism.” [No. 1392]. Through the Eucharist we become people through whom Jesus continues today the works of love and compassion which he accomplished during his earthly life through his physical body. United with him in the Eucharist, we are united too with one another. That is why, before coming to the Lord’s holy table, we share with one another the greeting of peace. “Those who receive the Eucharist,” we read in the Catechism, “are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body – the Church” [No. 1396]. Our continual eating of the food God gives us is corporate.[i]
When we consume Christ in the Eucharist, becoming what we eat, we are not just consumers. In our consumer society it is easy to regard receiving Communion as a personal gift. In Holy Communion, as we receive the true body of Christ, we also receive all of the members of the body of Christ. We are called to go beyond consuming. The message of our society tells us that there is scarcity – if you don’t get to this sale now you miss out! If you don’t have this item, food, car, house, you don’t fit.  The message of the Eucharist tells us “There is always enough!” When we consume Eucharist and become what we eat our message is “You are enough because God loves you freely.” Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI clearly explains, 
“Molded by the Eucharist, the [community of believers] will become a beneficial ferment amidst the widespread consumerism and individualism of our time, reawakening solidarity and opening, in faith, the eye of the heart to recognize the Father, Who is gratuitous love and Who wishes to share his own joy with His children.”
“In Pauline Spirituality there is also an intimate connection between the Word and the Eucharist.
In Pauline Spirituality there is an
intimate connection between the
Word and the Eucharist.
Blessed James Alberione asks that the same devotion to the Eucharist be given to the Gospel. ‘The Divine Master, in order to unite to himself the whole man, gave us his teaching and himself: the Gospel and the Eucharist.’ The Gospel and the Eucharist, which are organically united, are tremendous expressions of Christ’s self-revelation and self-giving. This intimate connection or ‘nexus’ between the Word and the Eucharist is like the pair of rails on a train track, or the two hands of a mother supporting a child in his first steps. Our Founder has an organic vision of the Divine Master, synthesized in the binomial Gospel-Eucharist. He asserts: ‘The Divine Master, in order to unite to himself the whole man, gave us his teaching and himself: the Gospel and the Eucharist.’ The Gospel and the Eucharist are tremendous expressions of Christ’s self-revelation and self-giving."

“In his mystical experience at the cathedral of Alba, the sixteen-year-old seminarian, James Alberione, contemplated both the Sacred Host and the Gospel words of Jesus: ‘Come to me, all of you …. in Jesus Host is to be found light, nourishment, comfort and victory over evil. The Eucharist and the Gospel would always dominate the thoughts, prayers, interior work and aspirations of the ‘apostle’ Alberione. As God’s chosen instrument of the new evangelization, Blessed Alberione felt obliged to serve the Church, the people of the new century, and to work with others. ‘Born from the tabernacle the Pauline Family finds its nourishment, its life, its way of working, its sanctification, everything – holiness and apostolate – comes from the Mass, Communion, and the Eucharistic Visit.’ He reminds us: ‘The Pauline Family has a sole spirituality and that is to live the Gospel in its entirety.’” [ii]

As the Church prays, so she believes. In order to help us live this reality and fulfill our call to evangelize, Blessed Alberione wrote uniquely Eucharistic-Scriptural prayers. Here are some of my favorites, inspired by him, from the new book Live Christ!Give Christ! Prayers for the New Evangelization.

Prayer to Incarnate Christ in Our Culture
Jesus, you are the Way, the place where we meet the Father;
no one can come to the Father except through you.
You are the always new and living Way. To see you is to see the Father.
You are the Truth; to know you is to know the Father, 
because you are the Word of God. Your truth sets us free.
Your spirit leads us to the whole truth.
You are the Life, given to us by the Father for the life of the world.
This life is nourished with your living Bread.
Jesus Way, Truth, and Life, I want to live in you with my entire being.
As I respond to the needs of others, help me incarnate you in the culture and in society.
Based on Jn 14:6, 14:9, 8:32, 16:13, 6:33

Make Me Life for the World
Knead me, Lord Jesus, into the world of communication,
as Eucharistic bread that will nourish others.
Teach me the new media languages that will give your message 
the best paths to reach minds and hearts.
Guide me as I send words into cyberspace;
inspire my choice of activity in social media.
Your word is alive and active,
like yeast in the dough of our world.
Thank you for calling me to participate
in your plan of peace.
Grant us the grace to welcome your word
and allow its message to find a home in us.
May our communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and in the word
always be our light and strength.
We offer ourselves with him to you, Father.
May we, too, become bread broken for the life of many. Amen.

Prayers of Bl.Alberione, Ven Mother Thecla,
Bl.Giaccardo, Ven. Sr.Scholastica, and
 Pauline Sisters and Brothers
May My Life Be a Liturgy
O mystery of the Father’s incomprehensible
love for his children, made known in Jesus
through the gift of the Spirit!
I contemplate the total gift of yourself to us.
I ask that I may respond with a total gift of self through
full participation in the Eucharistic liturgy.
Participating in your mystery,
may I be a living communication of your love
to my sisters and brothers.
May my life become a liturgy
offering glory to you and peace to all men and women.Amen.

Becoming Bread Broken for the World
Heavenly Father, we desire to enter fully
into the mystery of your covenant with your people,
in the life and mission of the Church.
Grant us the grace to advance toward the fullness of charity,
so that we may seek only your glory and peace to all people.
Thus we can truly become a sign of your Risen Christ in the world.
Grant us the grace to welcome your word
and allow its message to find a home in us.
May our communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and in the word
always be our light and strength.
We offer ourselves with him to you, Father.
May we, too, become bread broken for the life of many. Amen.

June 29: The solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul; June 30: the solemnity of St. Paul the Apostle (Pauline Family)

[i] John Jay Hayes, Now You Know Media
[ii] Cf. A Pauline Centenary Pastoral Tool: Pauline Spirituality and Mission, 2.
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Photo: Eucharistic Liturgy; Paulines in Italy. All rights Reserved.
Photo: Stain Glass Window; Jesuit Retreat House. Sr Margaret Kerry, fsp. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Cover of Live Christ; Give Christ. Pauline Books & Media. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved.

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Sr. Margaret Kerry celebrates 40 years of life and mission as a Daughter of St. Paul. With a Masters from Boston College School of Theology & Ministry, she gives presentations on the vocation and mission of the laity, media literacy, and evangelization. She directed the Association of Pauline Cooperators for 15 years and was creative editor of The Pauline Cooperator magazine. An author (St. Anthony of Padua: Fire & Light; Strength in Darkness: John of the Cross), Sr. Margaret is working on a young adult book. You can reach her at mkerry@paulinemedia.com.