A further word should be said regarding Christ, the suffering Master, since this aspect is particularly relevant in the Asian setting. It was on the cross that Christ Master lived his powerless power most fully, revealing the totality of his love for his own. Other Asian religious traditions contain a similar ideal of master, for instance, the figure of the bodhisattva in Buddhism. The disciples who want to follow him must walk the way he trod, which is, ultimately, the way of suffering. At ordination a Buddhist monk undergoes the ceremony by burning—some spots on his body are burned. This is a symbolic act with profound meaning. The pain caused by the burning reminds the monk that life is suffering, that the world is pain. Through the act the pain of humanity penetrates him. The Buddhist ceremony of ordination is a sacrament of pain. The monk takes up the pain of the world and bears it on his body. It is said in the seventh-century Buddhist scripture: All creatures are in pain, all suffer from bad and hindering karma… so that they cannot see the Buddhas or hear the law of Righteousness or know the Order.… All that mass of pain and evil karma I take in my own body.… I take upon myself the burden of sorrow; I resolve to do so; I endure it all. I do not turn back or run away, I do not tremble… I am not afraid … nor do I despair. Assuredly I must bear the burdens of all beings… I must set them all free. This is Buddhist faith at its most sublime.… The divine power to save gets expressed in the human power to endure. The divine compassion for the suffering multitudes becomes actualized in the human compassion to bear the burdens of karma for others. At this deepest level the Asian spirit that gives glimmers of light through, for example, Buddhist faith can and must move the heart of Jesus who bore the pain and suffering of the world and died on the cross.14
This suffering Jesus is the Master whom the Asian Daughter of St. Paul must be helped to encounter, to experience and to proclaim in her own life and in the life of her people. Her formation is to unfold at the school of the suffering Christ. The image of the humble, suffering Servant-Master overturns the fatal tendency to see Christ as a foreign master, remote, unreachable, to be feared rather than loved. This tendency prevails for many Asians who come from a background of Western colonization; Christ Master is often seen as part of the oppressive, exploitative colonizing power. Only an alternative counter-image of Christ can help to overcome this tendency and to bring Asians to Christ. Formative Implications
From the earliest stages of formation, the formation project should foster a master-disciple relationship with Christ Master marked by intimacy, friendship, total dedication, aimed at union as expressed in St. Paul’s “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Some concrete formative areas of concern to achieve this are: 1. A prayer life built upon the Word—the Master’s teachings—and the Eucharist as the celebration of Christ’s total self-sacrifice as well as the humble abiding presence of the Master in the midst of his own. 2. The Alberionian prayer of the “Pact” or “Secret of Success” (PPF 211-212) as an organizing principle of one’s discipleship in as much as this prayer is built upon a covenant of mutual love and trust between Master and disciple. 3. The formation to sacrifice and the loving acceptance of the cross. This becomes a challenge in today’s world, with its stress on the pleasure principle and instant gratification. 4. The offering of one’s life in reparation for the evil that exists in the world, especially the evil perpetrated by the abuse of the media of communication. The Alberionian prayer that best expresses this is the Pauline Offertory (PPF 46-48).
Dialogue between Alberione and Asian Traditions of the Spiritual Masters.