Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Night of Light

Taken from a biography of Blessed Alberione by Sr. Mary Tiziani dal Masetto, SDDM found at here.
On the night between December 31, 1900 and January 1, 1901, James knelt in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. He was sixteen, still somewhat confused as a consequence of his recent crisis.

The Cathedral of Alba was filled with parishioners and seminarians in response to the powerful, prophetic voice of Pope Leo XIII. The ardent pontiff had already called on the Catholic world to spend a Holy Year of prayer in preparation for the twentieth century and had written the encyclical Tametsi Futura, in which he vigorously pointed to Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life leading humanity to salvation.

After the celebration of midnight Mass, James and the other seminarians stayed at length in prayer. Four hours of fervent prayer! Young James was the last to rise to his feet. Later that morning another seminarian, Giordano, expressed astonishment upon meeting him; James must have let something of his interior state show.

Let us listen to how Alberione, fifty-three years later in Abundantes Divitiae Gratiae Suae, described his experience of God:

“ Particular enlightenment came from the Host, and a greater understanding of that invitation of Jesus: ‘Come to me, all of you…’ (Mt 11:28).

“ He seemed to fathom the heart of the great Pope, the Church’s call (for help), and the priest’s true mission. What Toniolo said about the duty of being apostles today and of using the means exploited by the opposition made sense to him. He felt deeply obliged to prepare himself, to do something for the Lord and for the women and men of the new century with whom he would spend his life” (AD 15).

“He had a clear grasp of his own nothingness. At the same time he experienced a message from the Eucharist, ‘And know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time’ (Mt 28:20). He understood that he could count on the Eucharist—on Jesus—for light, nourishment, consolation and victory over evil” (AD 16).

“His prayer was…for the century to be born in Christ in the Eucharist; for new apostles to reform the law, education, literature, the press, morals; for the Church to give fresh impetus to mission; for good use of the new means of apostolate; for society to welcome the great teachings of Leo XIII’s encyclicals.

“ His mind and heart became so fixed on the Eucharist, the Gospel, the Pope, the new century, the new means…and ‘Come to me, all of you’…from then on these things always dominated his thoughts, inspired his readings, his study, his prayer, his spiritual work, and his yearnings. He felt an obligation to serve the Church, the women and the men of the new age, and to work with others in an organized way” (AD 19-21).

“ Projecting himself mentally into the future, he felt that, in the new century generous people would experience what he was feeling and that teamed up into an organization they could bring about what Toniolo kept on repeating: ‘Unite; if the enemy finds us alone he will defeat us one by one.’ …This idea of his at first was quite confused; with the passing of time, it became clearer and more specific” (AD 17, 21).

In that first and extraordinary prayer he saw and felt clearly the specific mission, and the particular spirit, in which the Pauline Family would be born and live.

Though Alberione wrote the above experience in his characteristically laconic, under-stated way, we can gauge the magnitude of the mystery that had enveloped him that night. The huge growth in holiness, the enormous development of the works of God for which he would become a tireless instrument throughout his long life, would find in this “night of light and fire” its official onset.