Prayer and Reflection
Announcers of the Word like St. Vincent Pallotti
This year, 2023, the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God coincides with January 22. For us, it is a day of great feast, the feast of the Founder's birth into heaven, St. Vincent Pallotti. The Church draws The theme of this Day from the First Letter of John: "We proclaim to you what we have seen" (1 John 1:3); hence the title of the day itself: "Announcers of the Word!" And so, thanking the UAC General Secretariat for the invitation to write and following its outline for this month of January, I will try in this contribution to make the words of St. Vincent Pallotti and the Word of God, which is Jesus, speak to each other, to put them in dialogue with each other. It does not seem difficult to make this connection, because, fortunately, we have an infinite heritage of the Founder's words: the Complete Works, the Letters, the testimonies of those who knew him. So I said to myself, "I'll take a little bit from here and a little bit from there, and that's it: Jesus and St. Vincent said the same words."
But then, once again, I realized that just as with the Gospel, it is not enough just to read it or say it to call ourselves Christians, disciples of Jesus - Mary, Joseph, the apostles and all (men and women) who followed Christ understood it well -; in the same way, the words that St. Vincent wrote, said are - also for me, for us today - a mirror of what the lived Gospel matured in him and made him discover that the life of God, of the Trinity, is possible to welcome it in everyday life and in communion with every brother, sister.
"Remember that you are in the presence of God and say in faith - The Father who created me stands here - the Son, who redeemed me stands here - the Holy Spirit, who sanctified me stands here. I stand in the company of the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity - Oh what a company!" (OOCC XI, 236).
Yes precisely this always strikes and shocks me about the Founder: his relationship with Christ was vital and he lived it not as ethical or functional behavior but as active adherence, as participation in living Christ in all and with all.
"God is charity by essence; he is always solicitous for the benefit of every person, and he was solicitous even to the point of sending his Only Begotten Son to redeem humanity by his death on the cross. Since therefore all persons, as creatures, are living images of divine charity, so all must in their possibilities love God by loving their neighbor." (OOCC IV, 308)
And even more it strikes and shocks me that this life of his was not his alone, but he shared and broke it with everyone. As if to say that the life of Jesus in me does not separate me from others, but is to be lived with others, because Jesus is all in all.
"God, with infinite Love, and with His infinite Mercy created us in His image and likeness to come to be like Him in glory for all eternity. Out of the same infinite loving Mercy He called disobedient Adam, and as in love with man so ungrateful, and miserable, He promised him the Redeemer, and for Redeemer His own unique divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ true God, and true Man in soul, body, and divinity is ours, and the whole life of Jesus Christ, his infinite merits, his most perfect virtues are all ours" (God, Infinite Love, Med. XXII)
Many are the words of St. Vincent that touch us deeply and even if we repeat them many times, even when we happen to use them abstractly, we realize that they are our compass for loving God and loving our brothers and sisters.
"The pious Union has no new object, but the eternal Law of Charity" (OOCC IV, 317).
I believe that the greatest gift we can give the Founder on the occasion of January 22 is that we also commit ourselves, with God's grace, to re-practice among ourselves and with everyone the life of Jesus Christ as our fundamental rule. Thus, daily Practical Memory will gain more and more flavor as an experience to be lived.
Of course, sometimes it seems to me that it would be easier for me to think of Pallottine spirituality as a form of devotion, certainly there is that aspect as well; but in my dealings with members all over the world, I realize that it is a concrete way of ongoing conversion to the Good News of Jesus.
"Before beginning daily works, we must consider what the thoughts of the most holy mind of our Lord Jesus Christ would be in that case ... in a word, in everything we must imagine that we see our Lord Jesus Christ ... our model" (OOCC III, 36).
Might this not also be the deeper meaning of this other famous word of the Founder: reviving faith and rekindling charity?
I would like to conclude this contribution with the first prayer of the faithful during the Mass of the Epiphany of the Lord, and I think it is of value for the whole work of St. Vincent Pallotti, the Union of the Catholic Apostolate:
For the Church and her unity: may she walk in peace to manifest to the world the plan of communion that God wants for all peoples. Amen
Happy Feast and in communion with all,