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ROME – Fifty-one Daughters of St Paul from the five continents took part in the first ever seminar on Pauline Mysticism at the Casa San Paolo Rome from April 29 to May 8, 2016.
The objective of the seminar was “to rediscover in our Pauline Mysticism the unifying power of our spirituality and the prophetic power of our mission.”
The seminar opened with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration presided over by Fr Valdir Jose De Castro, Society of St Paul Superior General, who underscored the divine-human dimension of the Pauline Mysticism: to welcome the transforming light of God, which creates communion with Him and others, impelling us to “continually come out of ourselves” and communicate with the world.
In her welcome address, Superior General Sr Anna Maria Parenzan stressed that Pauline communication “should touch hearts, spread the warmth of Mother Church, build bridges, foster fruitful human encounters, open spaces for dialogue, mutual understanding, reconciliation, and build peace and harmony,” echoing the Holy Father’s message for the 50th World Communications Day (which fell on May 8).
There were altogether thirteen input sessions by various speakers – religious and lay – touching on topics of interest related to Pauline mysticism. The topics were (1) Integrality in the Daily Life of Judaism; (2) When the Self is Hidden behind Activity; (3) The Word as a Place of Unity: Martha and Mary; (4) The Life of the Apostle as Worship; (5) Contemplation and Action in the Fathers; (6) Becoming One All Together: The Rule of St Augustine; (7) Alberionian Integrality: Fonts of Inspiration; (8) Integrality in the Community: Eucharist and Service of Authority; (9) Spirituality Life and Mission in New Forms of Consecrated Life; (10) Formation to Integrality in the Pedagogical Texts of Fr Alberione; (11) Alberione’s Pedagogy of Integrality: The Four Wheels; (12) Alberione’s Pedagogy of Integrality: Adoration; and (13) Mary: Icon of Integrality.
Each talk was followed by a question-and-answer period. Since time was limited, the requests for clarification presented to the speakers were chosen in small group sessions held at the conclusion of each talk. After three or four talks, the participants were given time for personal reflection, group work, and the fusion of work on the small-group level into a unitary synthesis – drawing up a small document that will give direction to the reflections of the sisters who be participating in the Interchapter Meeting in September.
The participants took time to make a “jubilee pilgrimage” to the subcrypt of the Queen of Apostles Sanctuary and then to the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. They also had the opportunity to listen to the testimonies of representatives of the five religious congregations of the Pauline Family, who explained how their institutes are living the problems and joys of integrality, and the journey they foresee for the future in this regard.
The seminar ended on May 8, the Feast of the Ascension and the 50th World Communications Day. After the Mass, the synthesized draft was presented to the assembly. Each sister made a contribution to summarizing in a few lines, the orientations to be offered to the upcoming Interchapter.
The joyous climate that pervaded the atmosphere of the seminar was reinforced by the powerful motivations of the participants, who were open to the movements of the Spirit by taking into stride the intense though flexible pace of days, their reflections on the input received, their profound sharing, and their readiness to detach themselves from personal viewpoints and focus on shared essentials. It was indeed an experience of “unity in diversity” at its best. Each one shared her particular “light” received to illuminate her journey back home.