Christmas Letter from the Superior General of the Daughters of St Paul

Christmas 2008

Dear Sisters, young women in formation and collaborators,
We spent a very joyous Advent season following an intensive itinerary of praying and listening to the Word of God, which was offered to us very abundantly by the Liturgy during this period.
The four icons proposed in the Synod’s Final Message: voice, face, home and path, helped us prepare for Christmas more profoundly, while the atmosphere of silence and contemplation that we cultivated helped us expand the boundaries of our hearts, communities and apostolic centers so as to welcome the Living Word–Jesus, the long-awaited Savior of all the nations.
Now we kneel before the manger, the visible presence in time of God-with-us. In contemplating this very meaningful tableau, let us focus first of all the central event of Christmas: the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word became a Child, one of countless other children, but also different from them because he is divine. In fact, he is the Son of God, the firstborn of all creation, the light shining in the darkness, the image of the invisible God, the Beginning, the first in everything because in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. He is the beloved Son of the Father, the true Light that enlightens everyone (cf. Jn. 1:1-18; Col. 1 :15-20).
At the side of the Infant Jesus is Mary, his Mother, full of grace and light. We see her contemplate and adore her Son as he sleeps in his crib, hearing once again in the depths of her heart the words of the angel: “You have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever” (Lk. 1:30-33). We contemplate Joseph, an upright man, an honest citizen, an exemplary husband, who found himself surrounded by a mystery. With faith and obedience, he embraced the divine will and safeguarded Mary, his wife, and her Child (cf. Mt. 1:18-24).
Before the manger, we also contemplate the shepherds whom the angels surprised in the middle of the night with their joyful announcement, causing them to run to the cave to meet their Savior, Christ the Lord (cf. Lk. 2:8-17). We note the presence of the Magi, who arrived from the East under the guidance of a star, seeking the King of the Jews so as to adore him and offer him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (cf. Mt. 2:1-12). The animals in the cave also have a role to play as the representatives of all creation, which shares and rejoices in this long-awaited event.
We pause at length before the manger we have fashioned in our hearts. Our inward gaze discern other figures there, some of whom are known to us and others who are unfamiliar; some with happy faces, some with sad ones. It is the human family, yearning for hope and salvation–an infinite multitude of people who, whether they are aware of it or not, file past the crib of Jesus. With joy and wonder, we welcome him into our hearts. We carefully receive him from the hands of Mary so as to offer him to all those we will come in contact with this Christmas, including people we have not yet met but who are entrusted to us through our ministry as passionate and courageous apostles of the Word. This is the most beautiful gift we can offer humanity during this time characterized by uncertainty, difficulties and a search for meaning.
Let us all cluster close to the manger. Let us allow ourselves to be illuminated by the light shining from the face of Jesus–a light that reflects on Mary, Joseph, the Magi, the shepherds and all humanity. May our faces too glow with this light, witnessing to the love and mercy that Jesus came to bring us. These are the Christmas best wishes that I and all the members of the General Government offer you, together with our prayers, gratitude and affection.
A Blessed Christmas to each and everyone of you.

Sr. Maria Antonieta Bruscato
Superior General
Istituto della Pia Società Figlie di S. Paolo, Casa generalizia – Via S. Giovanni Eudes 25, 00163 Roma, Tel. 06.661.30.39

The manger is way, truth and life


From the writings of Blessed James Alberione

The manger is way:
Descending from the heavens, Jesus does not choose to open a great university before men’s eyes. He comes to us instead, in a cave where the animals find refuge. And Mary, instrument of Divine Providence, places him in a manger. The reign of God begins always like a mustard seed. The works of God begin in this way. Blessed is the one who begins from the manger.

The manger is truth:
The manger is the center of the story. The manger is a lamp for humanity, a lamp that must give light to all humanity: ”He was the true light that enlightens every man.” (John 1:9) Since then, everything flows from the Son of God, who is the light, the Truth and Wisdom of the Father, so then all of the human and theological sciences find their center in the manger, because the true Master is Christ. All light comes from Jesus. God in his mercy, gives us His wisdom.

The manger is life:
The manger is grace. All the good things that we could ever desire or seek, we find in the Child Jesus lying on the hay in the manger. Jesus is totally poor as regards earthly goods but he is totally rich in heavenly goods, or better still, he is the wealth of the Father and of men. Let us go to him with trust and express to him our personal needs, the needs of humanity, the needs of our brothers and sisters, the needs of all we love and who love us. Let us remember everyone, widening our hearts, especially let us reach out to those in need of spiritual help.

Making sense our our economic times

Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide recalled that the love of God for every person never changes and lasts forever: “This Christmas, Christians all over the world will draw strength from knowing that far from being an anonymous cog in the economic machinery, each human being is precious beyond understanding, having been individually created, known, and loved by God. Indeed, God loves us so much that he became human.” Every member of the faithful is called to welcome Jesus Christ in his heart and in his life, so they can “begin to make sense of the things happening around us. Hope, joy and peace begin to take the edges off our anxiety and fear.” (PA) (Agenzia Fides 19/12/2008)

Links:
Complete text of the Message from the Australian Bishops' Conference
http://www.fides.org/eng/documents/AUSTRALIA_Christmas_Message.doc

Benedict XVI: Solidarity with those affected by Labor Crises

The Holy Father affirmed that the nearness of Christmas brought to his mind, "almost naturally, the labor crisis that currently worries all of humanity. ... The Christ Child, who was born on that Holy Night of Bethlehem to draw near us in our difficulties", he concluded, "looks with kindness on those who are sorely affected by this world crisis, awakening in them feelings of true solidarity".

Opening of Beatification Process for Pauline Institute Member




MONS. BERNARDO ANTONINI
Born: Cimego (TN), Italy 10 – 20 -1932
Died: Karaganda, Kazakhstan 3 – 27 - 2002

Fr. Bernardo Antonini was a priest of the Verona Diocese, a missionary in Russia and Kazakhstan, and a member of the “Jesus the Priest” Institute of the Pauline Family. When he made his perpetual profession of the evangelical counsels in 1991, he listed his reasons for entering this Institute founded by Fr. Alberione.

Reasons for making his perpetual profession
My reasons for professing the evangelical counsels and the special promise of fidelity to the Pope in the “Jesus the Priest” Institute, aggregated to the Society of St. Paul:

1. Because of the intrinsic value of the simple vows of obedience, perpetual chastity and
poverty:
• so as to honor the Most Holy Trinity;
• so as to consecrate myself more intimately to the Living God, Father, Son and Holy
Spirit;
• as my personal gift-commitment to following our Lord Jesus Christ with my entire being;
• for my greater sanctification and that of my neighbor;
• so as to strain toward perfect “pastoral charity,” the means of sanctification for the
priesthood (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, nn. 12-14);
• so as to carry out my pastoral ministry more effectively and forge a more profound bond
of supernatural obedience and filial collaboration with my Bishop.

2. Because of the spiritual wealth to be gained in life and after death through membership in the Pauline Family (I will have suffrages offered for me throughout the world by the members of the 10 Institutes founded by Blessed James Alberione), a Family already present in the heavenly Jerusalem and in the pilgrim Church by means of her apostles
scattered over the earth.

3. Because of the importance of the specific Pauline charism
• which is centered on Christ;
• which has a pneumatological-ecclesial dimension to its spirituality;
• which reflects the universal/world-embracing heart of St. Paul.

4. Because of the timeliness of the Pauline apostolate and the urgent need of it in today’s world:
• to give the whole Jesus Christ
• to all people
• using every means, especially the instruments of social communication (which Fr. Alberione called “today’s new pulpits”).

Resolution: I ask everyone for the gift of their prayers and on my part I will strive to live, witness to and preach the Christological, ecclesial, anthropological and eschatological significance of the beatitudes (Mt. 5:1-12).
Rome, 5 April 1991

Brief Biography
Mons. Bernardo Antonini was born in Cimego (Trent), Italy on 20 October 1932. While hewas still a child, his family moved to Raldon, Verona. In 1942, he entered the diocesan
seminary of Roverè Veronese and was ordained a priest on 26 June 1955. His first assignment was to S. Michele Extra Parish in Verona, where he served as assistant pastor. In 1962, hereceived a Master’s Degree in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature from the Catholic University and two years later he obtained a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology in Venegono. In 1975, he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and became a professor of this subject at St. Zeno Theological Institute and St. Peter the Martyr Institute in Verona. But the hand of God was guiding Fr. Bernardo toward a very different apostolic path, although he was perhaps unaware of it. In 1977, he entered the “Jesus the Priest” Institute of the Pauline Family. There he met Fr. Stephen Lamera, the Institute’s Delegate, to whom he confided his projects and apostolic anxieties. Although he continued to maintain strong ties with his diocese and to docilely obey his own Bishop, Fr. Bernardo’s contact with the Pauline Family induced him to pattern his heart on that of St. Paul, focusing on the centrality of Christ and the need to take the Gospel to the modern world with modern instruments. Fr. Bernardo also cultivated a tender devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, whom he loved and prayed to throughout his life. In 1989, when it had become easier to enter Russia after Gorbachev’s ascension to power, Fr. Bernardo went to Moscow as a student, but he quickly revealed himself to be a great missionary. He offered his services to Apostolic Nunzio Francesco Colasuonno, then to His Excellency Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, the Bishop of Moscow. Fr. Antonini was the founder of Queen of Apostles Seminary, Moscow, in which he held the office of rector and also taught courses on Sacred Scripture. He was a tireless speaker at conferences and the founder-director of Sviet Evanghiela, today the newspaper of the Russian Episcopal Conference. Yearning to help the Church’s poorest dioceses and to carry out the apostolate wherever it was most needed, in 2001 Fr. Bernardo, with the permission of his Bishop, Flavio Roberto Carraro of Verona, offered his services to His Excellency Jan Pawel Lenga, Bishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, who appointed him vice-rector of the seminary and Episcopal Vicar for Pastoral Work. It was in Kazakhstan, on 27 March 2002, that the white stole symbolic of his priesthood was laid on his funeral casket, which today rests in the cemetery of Raldon, Verona. But Fr. Bernardo had already gone to meet the risen Christ, to whom he had offered such zealous witness in “Holy Russia.”

“Jesus the Priest” and “Holy Family” Institutes
Circonvallazione Appia, 162 – 00179 Rome, Italy – Tel. 06.78.42.455 – 06.78.42.609

Link to all Pauline Web and Blog Sites

At the bottom of this page is a new link to all Pauline blogs and web sites - mostly English - with hyperlinks to Pauline sites around the world in various languages.

Less is more...signs of the time

De Beers Diamond Company Says More is Less
07.12.08, 10:21 / Retail
De Beers launched its promotional campaign for the diamond in hard times with a full page ad in last Sunday’s New York Times stating: "Here's to less." The ad also included a pair of glittery diamond stud earrings along with De Beer’s well-known slogan: "A diamond is forever."
How exactly does a diamond fit in with hard times? De Beers’ ad reads: "Our lives are filled with things. We're overwhelmed by possessions we own but do not treasure. Stuff we buy but never love. To be thrown away in weeks rather than passed down for generations."It continues: “Perhaps it will be different now. Perhaps now is an opportunity to reassess what really matters. After all, if everything you ever bought her disappeared overnight, what would she truly miss?" De Beers, which produces about 40% of the world's diamond supply, is currently cutting production, including a reduction of as much as 20% at its two Canadian diamond mines. Due to the drop in demand for diamonds, De Beers has launched a massive marketing campaign to boost diamond sales: The "Here's to Less" advertisement is one of a series of eight ads - "Fewer, Better Things" is the banner headline of another - focused on the six-week holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. An account director of marketing at J. Walter Thompson stated: "The overarching idea is really about fewer, better things. These are uncertain times and a lot has changed for Americans on a day-to-day basis, watching the stock market go up and down. It's really about a time to look inward, and look at your family, and the things that you treasure.”

In the same newspaper there was an interview with Michael Lewis (Boston Globe December 14, 2008). In this interview he was asked if financial collapse brought on a particular panic. The question was "Is the panic you describe (in Iceland) a crises of faith?" he talks about confidence in a system...and then the interviewer asks "You reveal that this financial system has its secret priesthood...." Of interest as we finally take a look at consumerism/materialism as Christians is the comparison in both the ad and the interview with "religion" or "spirituality."

My parents lost their home, furniture, and what little jewels my mom had to Hurricane Ivan. When I visited them a month later and looked at the collapsed structure that was home for 40 years I found myself picking up mom's pearls and pieces of jewelery and rosaries from their bedroom floor. Later Sr Beatrice created a rosary bracelet from the many and varied beads for mom to wear. The Sacred Heart statue (life size) given to us by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd was missing. Later on the heart from this statue was located by the bird bath and placed in a container meant for a signed baseball. The words "deep waters cannot quench love," from Song of Songs were etched onto the plastic. Now my mom lives in an even greater simplicity than I thought possible. Her heirlooms gone out to sea. The diamond wasn't forever - Jesus' love is forever in the image of his heart - and in the love that shines brighter through darkness, storm and trust. My dad used to tell me that if I couldn't sleep to imagine being in a snow storm and seeing a house in the distance with smoke coming from a chimney and lights from the windows. Think of the wind blowing and the cold. Walk toward that warm, lit place. Finally arrive, open the door, feel the warm air. Smell soup warming over the fire place. See the warm goose-down bed. The wind blows but you are warm. He said "You will be asleep even before you can sip the soup or get under the covers. This is our desire for what matters - the light that beckons in the cold and darkness of anything we face. This is the light of Christ - this is forever.

Theology and the Economy

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week1206/exclusive.html
From PBS Religion and Ethics

Benedict XVI on the Economic Crises

The current global financial crises illustrates why it is a mistake to build a life on passing realities like money and success, Pope Benedict XVI said. "We see this today in the collapse of the great banks: This money disappears, it's nothing. And so all these things we thought were real and were counting on are in fact realities of a second order," he said. "We need to change our idea of realism. The realist is someone who recognizes the Word of God, in this reality that appears so weak, the foundation of everything," he added. The pope made the impromptu remarks at the opening session of the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible. He said the morning's Scripture readings had brought to mind Christ's parable of the two houses, one built on sand and one built on rock. (Origins 10/08)

Dossier on St Paul from Congregation for Evangelization of All Peoples

http://www.fides.org/eng/documents/Dossier_S._Paolo_eng.doc

Pauline Charism LIVE! Feature Story

Sister,
We wanted to let you know the partner story is up and we are also featuring it on our homepage. Thank you again for participating and being part of the Magnify community.
Here is a link: http://www.magnify.net/spotlight/paulinecharismlive/?from=hp.featured
Best,
Billy
--
Billy Linker
Manager, Community Development
billy@magnify.net

Alberione in the Boston Pilot

Hi, when you have time, click on the pic of Alberione from the link below. It was featured in the weekly update from the Boston Diocese via the Pilot. (see at bottom, right side of the web page)
Sr. Mary Mark

http://thebostonpilot.com/article2.asp?ID=7310

New Blog on Pauline Evangelization for Cooperators

In order to have a page dedicated to Pauline Evanglization for Pauline Cooperators there is a new blog site

http://evangelizationplace.blogspot.com

Starting with documents which inspired Blessed James Alberione up to the new documents of Benedict XVI - this "place" or "space" encourages reading and re-reading these sources of charism. There are also original presentations on Pauline Evangelization either texts or PowerPoints. Eventually there will be suggested reading and sources that connect to the intial and ongoing formation for Pauline Cooperators.

Sr Margaret

Have you seen the movie, Expelled!

I just watched Expelled! by Ben Stein. It is a documentary of sorts exploring the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools that hold a Dawinist bias. If you have seen it this will be of interest to you especially since Expelled! didn't really talk about the Catholic viewpoint as clearly as it could have:

CONGRESS ON EVOLUTION TO BE HELD IN 2009

VATICAN CITY, 16 SEP 2008 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, the presentation took place of an upcoming international conference entitled: "Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories. A Critical Appraisal 150 years after 'The Origin of Species'". The conference is due to be held in Rome from 3 to 7 March 2009.

The congress has been jointly organised by the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, U.S.A., under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture and as part of the STOQ Project (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest).

Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Fr. Marc Leclerc S.J., professor of the philosophy of nature at the Pontifical Gregorian University; Gennaro Auletta, scientific director of the STOQ Project and professor of the philosophy of science at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and Alessandro Minelli, professor of zoology at the University of Padua, Italy.

"Debates on the theory of evolution are becoming ever more heated, both among Christians and in specifically evolutionist circles", Fr. Leclerc explained. "In particular, with the approach of the ... 150th anniversary of the publication of 'The Origin of Species', Charles Darwin's work is still too often discussed more in ideological terms than in the scientific ones which were his true intention".

"In such circumstances - as Christian scientists, philosophers and theologians directly involved in the debate alongside colleagues from other confessions or of no confession at all - we felt it incumbent upon us to bring some clarification. The aim is to generate wide-ranging rational discussion in order to favour fruitful dialogue among scholars from various fields and areas of expertise. The Church has profound interest in such dialogue, while fully respecting the competencies of each and all. This is, however, an academic congress, organised by two Catholic universities, the Gregorian University in Rome and Notre Dame in the United States, and as such is not an ecclesial event. Yet the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture serves to underline the Church's interest in such questions".
OP/CONGRESS EVOLUTION/...

Advent Reflections from Fr. Guido Gandolfo, SSP

We can live the “Pauline” exercises in this time by subdividing the six weeks of the Advent-Christmas season into three successive phases. We can, then, commit ourselves to live it in the following way:

  • First and second weeks (Nov. 30 – Dec. 13): I will daily live the lectio and the meditatio, attentive especially to the contents of God’s Word for each day. I will let God’s Word, or whatever the Spirit suggests to my mind, take up residence within me, seeking to recall it often during the day.
  • Third and fourth weeks (Dec. 14 – 23): I will make an effort to pass from the word to the Word, from the contents to Jesus, Living Word. I will devote the first part of the Eucharistic Visit as oratio and contemplatio: I will turn to Jesus, the living word, rereading the evangelical message of the day in terms of adoration, praise, blessing, etc.
  • Fifth and sixth weeks (Dec. 28 – Jan. 11): Again during the first part of the Eucharistic Visit, after having asked the intercession of Mary to help me be totally open to the divine action, I will try to entrust my mind to Jesus, asking him to share with me in some way his own divine thoughts: “Now we have the thought of Christ” (1Cor2:16). I will present to Jesus a person or a fact for him to interpret for me, and wait no matter how long until he reaches my mind with an image or a biblical word that will be the gift of his illumination for my mind.

Blessed Alberione prayed like this:

“Jesus, may my faith be always more profound, that I may become a shining lamp that illumines all those who draw near me”.

Let us, too, make this prayer our own. Through the intercession of Saint Paul, let us daily renew our willingness to live the “yes” of our religious Profession as a prophetic witness for the good of all those who we encounter through our mission. I wish you all a joyful and transforming journey through Advent that will enable you to live the happiness of the Christmas Feast in all its fullness!
In profound communion,
Fr. Guido, SSP