Fully inserted as a living and vital “branch” of the great tree of the Pauline Family, the Cooperators are called to continually enhance the immeasurable richness of the spiritual life which this Family, as a singular and ineffable gift of grace, was conceived and lovingly offered by Blessed James Alberione.
The Vatican Council II in the document Apostolicam Actuositatem number 4 states: “the laity who have followed their vocation and have become members of one of the associations or institutes approved by the Church try faithfully to adopt the special characteristics of the spiritual life which are proper to them as well”.
This point, on the part of the Pauline Cooperators, is suitably combined with the spiritual and apostolic purpose of the entire religious Family founded by Fr Alberione, which announces the truth that liberates through evangelization with the instruments of social communication and with, to quote Primo Maestro, “all the inventions that human progress provides and the needs and conditions of the times demand”.
In order that this may truly be reversed in the life and concrete experience of the Cooperators, the current Statutes of the Association wanted to indicate precisely what content the spiritual and apostolic life of the members of our Association should be substantiated and what paths they are called to take in order to live this gift of grace to the full.
These contents constitute a true and proper spiritual charismatic formation process which, if constantly and progressively lived, will result in an authentic “integral lay Pauline”.
This process is accomplished through a specific succession of points that I would like to mention here:
- the reading, study and meditation of Sacred Scripture especially the Gospel, the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of St. Paul;
- the commitment to build a spirituality that places at its centre and has as its foundation Jesus Master Way, Truth, and Life, the integral Christ as Saint Paul knew him, who sees in him the fulfillment of the Holy Scriptures (cf. AD 159-160);
- the ability to entrust himself to Mary Queen of Apostles and St Paul the Apostle, the model of every Pauline, and guide in the process of Christification: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20);
- daily nourishment at the table of the Word, meditation and spiritual reading;
- mature discipleship which allows itself to be guided by Christ the Master during the liturgical year. There is no better school for the spiritual formation of each Pauline than participation in the life of grace that the liturgy gives;
- the “full, active and fruitful” participation in the Eucharist: “The whole person in Jesus Christ, in view of loving God completely [utilizing one’s] intelligence, will, heart and physical strength. Nature, grace, and vocation: everything [is] for the apostolate. [It is] a cart that runs on the four wheels of sanctity, study, apostolate, and poverty” (AD 100; cf. CISP 10);
- an ever more solid awareness that Pauline piety is Eucharistic: Everything flows from the vital source which is the Eucharistic Master (cf. AD 16-19, 82, 95, 155). From the Eucharistic Visit he learns to draw nourishment for his spiritual life and the apostolate;
- the daily examination of conscience carried out according to the thought of the Church and the Founder: “cor poenitens tenenete” “Sorrow for sins”. In this way he learns how important it is to restore a correct relationship with God, with oneself and with one’s neighbour and the value of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and he takes into due consideration the need for spiritual direction as an indispensable means of walking with confidence in Christian life (cf. AD 158);
- the prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours or part of it, especially Lauds and Vespers. In this way the Cooperator learns to sanctify time by participating in the common and official prayer of the Church;
- the harmonization of the exercises of piety with the sacred liturgy (cf. SC 13). In particular, with the careful and meditated prayer of the Holy Rosary, he learns to grow in devotion to the Queen of Apostles. The Co-operator will have in his hands an important instrument: The Prayers of the Pauline Family, which is given to him during the rite of the Promise and which, in addition to the prayers, contains the introductions written by Fr Alberione;
- the participation in meetings, gatherings, retreats which are expressly promoted by the Association and which allow him to know the spiritual heritage of the Pauline Family;
- the reading and study of Blessed Alberione’s thought and the documents that the Society of Saint Paul and the Pauline Family itself provide;
- the participation in spiritual and formative meetings promoted by the group of which he is a member, for a greater communion among the members, and for a progressive knowledge of the Pauline charism.
If all Pauline Cooperators enjoy and live, making a synthesis of their lives, this spirituality will broaden the soul to the needs of the contemporary world, they will be authentic apostles who live, feel and work with the same heart as the Apostle Paul, and therefore with the same heart as the Divine Master.
Fr Guido Colombo, ssp
Delegate of the Cooperators of the Society of St. Paul for the Province of Italy
Coordinator of the National Executive Directorate for Italy of the Pauline Cooperators Union