At the Center is Jesus: Pauline Centers in Evangelization At the Center is Jesus Christ; Way, Truth and Life by Sr. Margaret Charles Kerry
The word “center” is a defining word for Paulines. Jesus is the Center of our lives. Jesus is the Center of our mission. Instead of saying Pauline Store we use the word “center.” Our Pauline Centers offer people a place of encounter with Jesus. “From within me”, Jesus said, “Living waters flow”. That is, from the Center. From the Pauline center emanates the light of the Gospel, the light of our Eucharistic Lord. If you did a thesaurus check on the word “center” you would find words like inside, interior, core, heart. You would also find gathering place, meeting place, foundation, meeting point, seat, focal point, focus, nucleus and spotlight. Fr. Alberione described Pauline centers as you would describe a church, the counter is a pulpit, the door is the place where the bread of the Word is distributed, and people who enter our doors are co-workers bringing the gospel out to the market place. John Paul II said “Father Alberione not only opened modern pulpits of social communication to evangelization, but he conceived his work as organic action within the Church and at its service.” Pauline Book & Media centers are called to have a clear Christian identity, “offering services, practicing dialogue and ecumenism, becoming true centers of culture. Techniques and channels of diffusion are built up in the region so that new ways of being present are preeminent. We don’t underestimated the role of the virtual bookstores where we interact with the public by means of e-mail and the new forms of relationship with people through the media” (CF Silvio Sassi 2005, 5.3). “The Lord and Creator of all things became a ‘grain of wheat’ to be sown in our land, in the furrows of our history”, said Pope Benedict XVI. “He became
bread in order to be shared; … He became our food in order to give us life, His own divine life”. This is why Pauline centers, even though they speak the language of retail – look and feel like retail stores – are really places where God’s Word is lived, broken and shared. This is a consumerism that is humanized – we consume the bread of life – Jesus is our consummation – we share the bread of the Word. Christians are called to open up a different kind of economic space – the space marked by the body of Christ. It is an economy of giving. Eucharist does not begin with scarcity but with one who came that we may have life and have it abundantly (Cf William Cavanaugh). Blessed Alberione told us that “A good part of today’s world suffers from a shortage of bread. There is a far greater shortage of the spiritual bread brought by Jesus. ‘I am the Bread of Life,’ he said. Countless people live complexly unaware of their destiny. They have no other thought than the present. Yet in a short time, death brings them to eternity. There are few to prepare them with this bread. “There is no one to break it for them.” They die of hunger without truly understanding their hunger. Jesus is Bread/Truth. The apostle of the media of communication is another Jesus Christ who echoes and amplifies to people of every age and place what Jesus preached and taught on earth.” Mother Teresa said that “Into each of our lives Jesus comes as the bread of life – to be eaten, to be consumed by us. Then he comes as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the bread of our life, our hearts loving, and our hands serving.” Through our Pauline centers we are feeding the hungry: not only with food but also with the Word of God; giving drink to the thirsty: not only for water, but for knowledge, peace, truth, justice, and love;
clothing the naked: not only with clothes, but also with human dignity; giving shelter to the homeless: not only a shelter made of bricks but a heart that understands, that covers, that loves; nursing the sick and dying: not only the body, but also the mind and spirit (Constitutions of the missionaries of charity) Br. Al Milella tells us that “The world has not yet felt the full, exhilarating influence of the Good News. When it does it will be transformed. At present, it goes about dazed and diverted by its own hunger for something undefined. “What is conversion if not a head-on collision with the Word, either in Scripture, in a saintly life, or in the action of charity?” Out of its own devotion to Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life is born a means to sanctify man’s mind, will and heart.” Sr. Veritas Grau also spoke of this hunger amidst the plenty of new technology: “It is taken for granted that this technological progress will automatically lead to a better quality of human life; deeper questions are ignored, such as those that relate to human nature, its hunger for communion, and its thrust toward transcendence and ultimate meaning.” In Pauline “centers of communication” we are apostles:
The apostle of the media broadcasts Jesus Way who leads us to fullness of life in the Trinity.
The apostle of the media communicates Jesus Truth who said “This is why I was born and why I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” He inspires the search for truth and knows the questions of our hearts: Who am I? Where am I going? For Blessed Alberione it is Christ who asks the questions, challenging the world to give an account of itself, of its deepest hopes and needs, and whether or not it is seeking what will truly make it happy.
The apostle of the media extends the invitation of Jesus Life who said “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” The media centers are open doors to this gratuity of God’s grace and authentic love.
In Ephesians 2:19-22 Paul says that: “In Christ the whole building is joined together and grows into a holy temple of the Lord. In Him you are being built together into God’s dwelling place in the Spirit.” This is the Pauline center – the building of God. In 1 Corinthians 3:9 we read: “We are God’s co-workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” “The house where the light of the Gospel must shine is the house where each one of us lives and also a house open to the world… .Blessed James Alberione, apostle of communications, said we are all called to the Christian apostolate, every one is called to co-operate in the task of transforming the world, to build together a world of fraternity and solidarity where human and Christian values shine in lives and in social structures.” The Pauline family is called to respond, as Father Alberione directed, to the needs of the Church in the twenty first century. It is a call to promote the integral Christian message with and through the media so that the Gospel influences the culture. Christ is the true teacher. Paulines living His Word are the channel of his art. As the Pauline diffuses the Word, she transmits Jesus Master. Fr. Alberione in 1949 in the introduction to the book of Fr. Lamera: the Founder summarizes his global vision of the Pauline formation and where the expression, “At the center is Jesus Christ Way, Truth and Life,” Pope John Paul II’s Mission Prayer Intention for July 2005: Comment by Sr M. Antonieta Bruscato, Superior General Daughters of St Paul FSP