Blessed James Alberione

Opera Omnia


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In this series of appendices we are adding other texts that seem particularly opportune for a better knowledge and understanding of the overflowing riches of grace that God has bestowed on the Pauline Family.
We shall subdivide these texts, according to their main argu-ment, into the following groupings: Society of Saint Paul, Daughters of Saint Paul, Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, Pastorelle Sis-ters, Apostoline Sisters, and Cooperators. A
Statement follows and then a Farewell that includes a Spiritual Last Will, and two notes with a Last Will and Testament flavor.
The progressive marginal enumeration follows that of the 1985 critical edition. The missing numbers (nn. 205-214, 225-239, 251-278, 294-303) refer to other versions (with minor changes), which we do not consider necessary to repeat here.

1. A tribute to the first Paulines
There are three drafts of this important text, bearing the ms date Rome, 9-VI-1954: one handwritten, one typewritten and one printed. We publish here only the third, considered the definitive.

205-214 [Handwritten and typewritten drafts omitted]

I have to say that for four years Fr Tito and Fr Costa,1 soon to be joined by Fr Ambrosio (16 October 1915)2 and Fr Marcellino (16 October 1916),3 were the most generous and intelligent in the Pauline life; the Holy Spirit was indeed operative in those souls.
Those were the years when only faith and love of God sustained those first sons of Saint Paul. Only rarely in my life have I met such exceptional persons of a like piety, virtue and dedication.
External difficulties?... The Lord did not let us face many... We were neither worthy, nor capable of sustaining them. Still, the 1914-18 World War was such a difficult trial for the Institute that the last war (1939-45) can be likened to it as one fifth [an ordeal].
The real difficulties always come from internal issues. It was a question of grasping the notion of the priest-writer and achieving it, of technical skill upgraded to apostolate, of a distribution that would access every person and modern thought. Human beings always make mistakes; the Lord, in his mercy and holiness, always humbles the proud.
Between one thing and another, I had to leave the young boys in the care of other teachers for most of the day. Although they were good [as teachers], they did not stick to the Pauline spirit; their teaching was geared to boys in a home whose destiny lay in learning the printing trade. Many times one could not say what needed to be said; one had to keep quiet. But these first four were intensely faithful, prudent and eager as regards the directives they received. Later on, with the separation between the young workers of Fr Rosa4 and these four Paulines, whom others soon joined, the Family started to advance steadily. So it was that even when I was not there I felt perfectly secure and at ease: such was the love in them for the budding Family.
On 1 August 1916 little Matteo Borgogno5 also entered. Although much younger than the other four and further behind in studies, he knew how to make himself immediately useful to the Pauline family with his skillful and intelligent dedication to the apostolate, in the typesetting department. One of those young boys who entered between 1918-1919 asserts today that For every one of us new arrivals, to see the face of those first four was just like being in the presence of the Theologian: we felt so full of enthusiasm.
In subsequent years, many others faced difficulties, made sacrifices and maintained exemplary fidelity: but nothing compares with what we went through in those early days, which clearly let us discern the approval of God and which would soon be followed by that of the Church; thus we proceeded with an ever surer faith that it was not an illusion, but that we were walking in God’s way.
I always remember those beloved Confreres who bore the initial and heaviest burdens, with an understanding far beyond their age. That simple and sure faith of theirs which allowed them to put their trust in God, [as well as] their love of God and of souls and their deep desire for holiness, opened the way for many vocations.
2. The Letter from Susa to the first Paulines
On 22 August 1924 Fr Alberione wrote the following letter from Susa. It reflects the thoughts going through his own mind; thoughts that he now recommends to his sons to animate them to conform better and better to their Pauline vocation. Fr Alberione perceives and conveys the greatness of this vocation, even if he links it immediately to the notion, which we find also in AD, of the account that he and all Paulines will have to render to God.
To the members of the Pious Society of Saint Paul
I just wrote [to you] yesterday, but today, too, I need to tell you something that the Lord let me know about on the feast of Saint Bernard.
I don’t know if this will make you feel happier or more scared; perhaps more scared than happy at first, because, just as the Theologian did, so you, too, will have to think of the greater account that we shall have to render to God.
I don’t know if, sometimes, you ever think of making a comparison between our House, little as it is, and the great tree of the Salesian Family, or the mighty oak of the Family of Saint Ignatius; or the two Orders of Friars, the Dominicans and the Sons of Saint Francis, or, even more, the amazing development of the Sons of Saint Benedict.
Well now, all this is very little in comparison to what the Lord wants, expects and asks of us.
I am reading the life of that missionary adventurer, Saint Francis Xavier. I can tell you that more than half of you are destined to do the good he did; while others [among you] will do three times as much and even more. What marvels Jesus has enclosed in his Heart!
Marvels of love, grace and vocations. The Lord wants to give us things that I don’t think you can yet experience, since even Jesus told the Apostles that he had things that he was keeping to himself until the coming of the Holy Spirit, because non potestis portare modo.6 And you will not be able to bear it because all of us are still quite far from the humility, selfdenial, charity, poverty and faith that the Lord wants.
Have we a tiny bit of all this?
Dear friends, read this letter during the Visit to the Blessed Sacrament: let us reflect that the graces are there, [and that] judgment awaits us; whether we like it or not the world is ours: woe if we don’t embrace it. I am almost struck with terror and I must cling with both arms to Jesus who says to me: Ego sum, nolite timere, omnia possum.7
Written at Susa on 22 August 1924.



1 See above, AD 105-106 and relative notes, for details of Fr Tito Armani and Fr Desiderio Costa.

2 Michele, in religion Domenico, Ambrosio, born on 17.6.1902 at Canale (Cuneo); entered the Congregation on 16.10.1915; made first profes-sion on 5.10.1921; ordained priest on 18.12.1926; died at Alba (Cuneo) on 7.3.1971. Armando GIOVANNINI has written a moving and fully documented memento of him in Don Domenico, Edizioni Paoline, Alba 1971.

3 Bartolomeo, in religion Paolo, Marcellino, born on 24.11.1902; entered on 16.10.1916; professed on 5.10.1921; ordained on 18.10.1925; died at Ospedaletti (Imperia) on 16.4.1978. He merited par-ticular praise for establishing the Pauline presence in Japan.

4 Fr Giuseppe Rosa (1875-1930) worked hand in glove with Fr Alberione from September 1914 up until the beginning of 1916. In 1924-25 a dispute arose between them. This led, eventually, to the in-volvement of the Sacred Congregation of the Council in whose offices there is a file (n. 3211) regarding the matter. Fr Giancarlo ROCCA initiated a historical research into this whole affair and published the main docu-ments in La formazione della P.S.S.P., cit.

5 Matteo, in religion Bernardo, Borgogno, born on 13.4.1904 at La Morra (Cuneo); ordained on 18.12.1926; died at Albano Laziale (Rome) on 26.7.1985.

6 “But you cannot bear [these things] now” (Jn 16:12).

7 “It is I, do not be afraid [Jn 6:20]; I can do all things” (cf. Mt 28:18 or Phil 4:13).