By Devin Watkins
The Pauline Family—which is made up of 5 religious congregations, 1 lay association, and 4 secular institutes—marked the eve of the 50th anniversary of the death of their founder, Blessed Giacomo Alberione, with a papal audience on Thursday.
Pope Francis spoke to members of the Institutes, which were founded between 1914 and 1959, about the charism and mission the Italian priest left them, calling it an excellent opportunity for the entire Church to reflect on Blessed Alberione’s legacy for the new evangelization.
“With farsighted vision,” he said, “your Founder knew how to embody for the 20th century the necessity that the ‘Word of God might spread rapidly’ by using and appreciating the most effective tools and manners-of-expression offered by technological progress.”
Pointing out the path of sanctification
The Pope recalled the words of St. Paul VI to the Pauline Family in 1969 praising Blessed Alberione as an untiring apostle who was able to read the signs of the times to find the best ways to reach souls.
Pope Francis said those traits still serve as a model for the institutes he founded and challenge their members to adapt their apostolate to the situations and needs of their contemporaries.
He added that the Apostle Paul can serve as an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the institutes that bear his name, as intended by Blessed Alberione.
“He always held [St. Paul] up as an inspiration and father, as a model to imitate in complete self-donation to our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel, being led by His love along the path of sanctification.”
Embodying passion and service
Pope Francis urged the Pauline Family to continue to live the passion and service embodied by St. Paul, since they are all spiritual sons and daughters of the Apostle despite the variety of the ways in which the various institutes live their common charism.
In off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope underlined the importance of passion for the Gospel.
“The Gospel cannot be lived without passion,” he said. “The Gospel of 'words only' goes nowhere; the Gospel emerges from the heart: passion.”
Enriching Church embrace of media technology
The Pope went on to note that recent decades have seen vast technological change in the area of communication, which every part of the Church has embraced to various degrees.
“However,” he added, “your presence is still needed today—I would even say ever more necessary—animated by your charism and enriched by your experience of work ‘in the field’.”
At the same time, each Pauline institute can contribute in its own way to the synodal process which opened in October and culminates with the Synod of Bishops in 2023.
Nourishing with the Word of God
“Fifty years after his birth into heaven,” said Pope Francis, “these celebrations of your Founder offer you the opportunity to better recognize the prophetic value of his witness.”
He encouraged the Pauline Family to embrace the means of modern communication as their “pulpit,” so that “Jesus Christ might be proclaimed to the men and women of our time with the means available to our time.”
The Pope concluded his address by thanking the members of the Pauline Family for their dedication and for their constant prayer that “the holy people of God might be continually nourished by the Word of God.”
“Never forget prayer,” he said. “It is the most important means of communication. If I speak to the whole world but not with the Lord, then it’s best to go home.”
“Seek ‘in all things and with your whole heart—in life and in the apostolate—only and always the glory of God and peace among peoples’.”