Despite the floods brought by the Monsoon Rains and Tropical Storm, Maring (International name, Trami), the SSP Philippines-Macau opens here the Centenary Year of its foundation and of Pauline Charism with a Eucharistic Celebration presided by Provincial Superior Fr. Jose S. Aripio, SSP at 3:30 PM on  August 20, 2013. A fellowship followed. Bishop Rupert Santos, DD, Bishop of Balanga, the set presider and homilist, just sent his homily which was read by Fr. Aripio. Here is the complete text of his homily: 

Centennial Celebration of the Foundation of Society of St Paul and the Beginning of the Pauline Family (1914-2014)

(Homily of Bishop Rupert Santos, DD, Bishop of Balanga as read by Fr. Jose S. Aripio, SSP on the occasion of the Opening of the Centenary of the Society of St Paul and the Pauline Charism) 

BEFORE THE CHRISTMAS break a teacher decided to give her students a written test. One of the students upon receiving the test questions became sad and worried. She thought to herself, "these questions are too hard and difficult." And she wrote on her test paper, "only God can answer these questions," and she signed it with, "Merry Christmas!"

The teacher returned the test papers the following day. And the worried student saw this remark on her test paper, "God, one hundred. You, zero." And she added, "Happy New Year!"

Indeed God is perfect and He knows all the answers. But He has given us the capacity, the desire and the grace to seek and attain perfection.

My dear reverend fathers and religious sisters, our beloved Pauline family, it is obvious that you did not get zero. God gives you His one hundred—a hundred talents, a hundred skills, a hundred and even move graces. God loves you so much and He always gives you the maximum, the most. Indeed a worthy centennial celebration.

And so in the written words of your true father, patron and founder of your Congregations as your Primo Maestro, Blessed James Alberione, constantly referred to Saint Paul the Apostle, it is truly "immeasurable riches of his grace" (Ephesians 2:7).

From that memorable and historic day of August 20, 1914 to this very special day and onward, we are celebrating three things: 

  • a centennial of graces,
  • a centennial of goodness, and
  • a centennial of growth, or of going on and on. 

A Centennial of Graces

First, we are celebrating a centennial of graces. What you are now and what you have now are all because of God. God has provided you with good seeds (Mark 4:8). God sent you to fertile soils. God nourished you with all the necessary and valuable tools. And at the end of the day, even seasons and years, you reap a bountiful and beautiful harvest. Centennial years!

Everything is grace. And everyone on your left and right, at the back and in front, are all God's gifts. Yes, God has gifted you with your Primo Maestro. And he, Blessed James Alberione, has graced the Universal Church with his ten Pauline Congregations and Institutes.

His four hours in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament at the Cathedral Church of Alba which he received "special enlightenment" is God's grace for him to "proclaim the Good News to all peoples with the dynamism of Saint Paul, by using new and varied instruments and organizations."

God makes things possible. God calls the right and better collaborators. And He has chosen Blessed James Alberione as His grace to the modern world. 

A Centennial of Goodness

Second, we are celebrating a centennial of goodness. With his good intention and in good spirit, Blessed James Alberione started the Pauline Family and founded the first Congregation, the Society of Saint Paul. It was his response to God's call and to the urgent needs of the Church to bring Jesus into the lives of all people through the media of social communications.

With good hearts and desiring the ever good of the Congregation, Fathers Gaetano Marco Grossi, Matteo Bernardo Borgogno and Ercole Clemente Canavero embarked from Genoa to their mission in the Orient to sow the first seeds of the Society of Saint Paul presence and ministry.

And now with your generous and good examples you continue to lead men and women to eternal salvation through the use of the press, turning it as good press. Indeed like and in line with your Primo Maestro you are now the apostles of good press, reminding and urging you at "at the service of souls."

Saint Luke describes it best when he writes "good person draws good things from the good stored in the heart" (Lk 6:44).

With his final advice, Blessed James Alberione concluded, "the apostle of the press and the apostle of the Word have the same purpose: to do good, that is, to do good today." 

A Centennial of Growth

And lastly, we are celebrating a centennial of growth or rather of going on. As the Primo Maestro attested, "the most proof of God's approval is the increase of vocations" you have grown in quantity and with utmost quality. With pens in the hands, inks in the machines and hearts set on God alone you have grown to more than fifty countries, with more than one hundred thirty-six communities. Like a proverbial mustard seed, your Pauline Family continues to heed the divine command of our good Lord "go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to all the nations" (Mark 16:18). And as you go, on and on, your printing press as your pulpit and your bookstores as the "cathedral of our times" you have been the active presence of Saint Paul today, and making him more alive, more interesting, and more available in our present situation and condition.

With what you are now, we can conclude that your Primo Maestro was ahead of his time: a prophet and a visionary. He translated in his very own life what Saint Paul wrote, "I strain towards what is ahead" (Philippians 3:13). And he appealed "if we have to be apostle like Saint Paul, let us remember that there is no time to lose, for there is much more work still to be done." Yes, we go on and on.

Yes, your years endured and experienced cruel World Wars, witnessed dangers and destructions and lived in poverty and persecutions. But you go on. You went on and on. Yes, Blessed James Alberione suffered and did constant sacrifices. And yet it is still a centennial of going on, and not going back; of giving on and not giving up. In his Diary, the Primo Maestro practiced and preached, "take courage. Let us go ahead. All and everyone for the Gospel."

Now what lies ahead of you? The answer is in this question when Blessed James Alberione celebrated his 50th priestly anniversary as he convoked three General Assemblies. As to subject them; Society of Saint Paul, Daughters of Saint Paul and the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, he asked, "has this Congregation shown itself capable of giving saints in Heaven and apostles to the Church?"

And so let the next century be to give Saints, living Saints from your very own rank and file. My dearest reverend priests and religious sisters, you are not only at the service of souls and modern apostles in the modern times, but much more living Saints of mass communications. Let us then see the coming centennial producing and giving Saints for the Church, Saints from your own Pauline family. 

+ Ruperto Cruz Santos, DD, Bishop of Balanga 
Tuesday, 20 August 2013 at the Sanctuary of Saint Paul the Apostle in Makati City