Blessed James Alberione

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Greater light... The dream
In times of particular difficulty, while examining all his actions anew [to see] if there were impediments to the work of grace on his part, it seemed that the Divine Master wanted to reassure the Institute, launched just a few years earlier.
In a subsequent dream1 he seemed to have an answer. In truth, Jesus Master was saying: DO NOT BE AFRAID, I AM WITH YOU. FROM HERE I WANT TO ENLIGHTEN. BE SORRY FOR SINS.2
The from here came from the Tabernacle; and with emphasis; so as to make it evident that all the light to be received comes from him, the Master.3
He spoke about it to his Spiritual Director, mentioning the light which surrounded the figure of the Master. His reply was: Keep calm; dream or otherwise, what you heard are holy words; make them a practical program of life and light for yourself and for all the members.
Hence he began to see his way more and more clearly and to draw everything from the Tabernacle.4
[Bearing in mind] the overall circumstances, [this is] how he understood these words:
a) Neither the Socialists, nor the Fascists, nor the world, nor the haste of creditors in an instant of panic, nor failure, nor Satan, nor the passions, nor your inadequacy on all sides… [will be able to obstruct you], but make sure you let me stay with you; do not drive me out by sin. I am with you, that is, with your Family, which I willed, which is mine, which I nourish and of which I am a part, as its head. Do not waver, even if there are many difficulties; but let me remain always with you! No sins…5
b) From here I want to enlighten. In other words, I am your light and I will use you in order to enlighten; I am giving you this mission and I want you to carry it out.
The light that enwrapped the Divine Master, the emphasis in his voice on I want and from here and the prolonged pointing with his hand to the Tabernacle, were interpreted as an invitation to take everything from him, the Divine Master dwelling in the Tabernacle; that this is his will; that a great light was to shine forth from the then threatened Family… Thus, writing Ab hinc,6 he thought of sacrificing grammar to meaning. Let everyone consider herself or himself to be a beacon of light, a loudspeaker of Jesus, a secretary of the evangelists, of Saint Paul, of Saint Peter…; that the pen in the hand, along with the pen of the printing press ink well, perform a sole mission…7
c) Sorrow for sins means a habitual recognition of our sins, faults and deficiencies. Distinguish between what is God’s and what is ours: to God all the honor, to us contempt.8 Then came the prayer of faith, The Pact or Secret of Success.9
The complete spirituality of Jesus the Master10
In his study of the various spiritualities – Benedictine, Franciscan, Ignatian, Carmelite, Salesian, Dominican, and Augustinian – it appeared more and more clear that each one has good points; but basically there is always Jesus Christ, the Divine Master, and each reflects primarily on one aspect of him; one more on the truth (Saint Dominic and followers); another more on charity (Saint Francis and followers); one more on his life (Saint Benedict and followers); another on two aspects, and so on. But if one then moves on to the study of Saint Paul, one finds the Disciple whose knowledge of the Divine Master is complete; he lives the whole Christ; he scrutinizes in depth the mysteries of his doctrine, of his heart, of his sanctity, and of his humanity and divinity: he sees him as Healer, Victim, Priest; he presents the whole Christ to us as he had already proclaimed himself to be: Way, Truth and Life.11
This angle contains religion, dogma, morals and worship; this perspective encompasses the whole Jesus Christ; through this devotion Jesus Christ completely embraces and conquers the human person. Piety is complete and the religious, like the priest, thus grows in wisdom (study and heavenly wisdom), age (virility12 and virtue), and grace (sanctity) on up to the fullness and perfect age of Jesus Christ; on up to Christification: Vivo ego, iam non ego; vivit vero in me Christus.13 All devotions to the person of Christ, God and Man, converge in this devotion.
Divine assistance
There were several persons who offered themselves as victims for the Institute’s happy outcome; the Lord took up the offer of some. From 1910 the clerics of the seminary in Alba daily offered the intentions14 of their Spiritual Director, although unaware precisely for what; and in 1915 when war broke out, they still renewed their offering from the front, together with the offering of their own lives always in peril: some died at the front, others through sicknesses contracted there.
Among those whose lives the Lord accepted, as far as one can humanly judge, [were] the clerics Borello and Fanteguzzi; [and] the priests Saffirio, Destefanis and Villari.15 Together with Maggiorino Vigolungo16 we can recall some others of the Pious Society of Saint Paul. Nor to be forgotten are [Amalia] Cavazza-Vitali,17 together with a group of Daughters, from [Clelia] Calliano18 onwards.
The Pauline families are the result of countless sacrifices, prayers and offerings over many years.
With this help that he is not fully able to grasp, the pact with God that is recited in the prayers and the work in the four branches,19 the continual blessings of God on all sides.20
He had brought together a group of virtuous and pious people, who continually offered prayers during their adoration: at its head was Canon Chiesa.
There were numerous dangers of a variety of kinds: personal and financial, and written and verbal accusations: life was marked by danger for days on end; Saint Paul was always [our] salvation.
The procedure for expenditure itself was [to seek] advice and [make] this examination: Is this necessary? Have I the right intention? Would we do it21 if we were at the point of death? If the answers were affirmative, we placed our trust in God.
At times there were urgent and serious needs: and all human resources and prospects were exhausted: we prayed and we sought to drive out all sin and every fault against poverty: and unexplained solutions,22 money arrived from unknown people, the offer of loans, new benefactors and other things that he never knew how to explain...; the years went by, the forecasts [made] by many of certain failure, the accusations of madness... all dissolved and everything was settled peacefully, although not without hard work.
None of his creditors lost a cent... and suppliers, builders and firms continued to keep up their trust. There were several benefactors whose charity bore fruit threefold; and there were many events to the contrary. Maestro Giaccardo used to say: I feel sorry for certain people who oppose us, even if in good faith: for I know several who were punished. But he would reply: I know of many more who were blessed for having sent vocations and helped Saint Paul’s.
The Bishop’s support and approval never ceased; nor did that of the more distinguished clergy in the diocese.
Among his main benefactors [were] Canon Chiesa, Bishop Re, [Amalia] Cavazza-Vitali, one of his uncles,23 almost all the Vicars Forane of the diocese, and countless Cooperators.
He received great help from the advice of Cardinal Maffi, Cardinal Richelmy and Canon Allamano; great help in financial matters from Canon Priero, Monsignor Sibona, Monsignor Dallorto and Archpriest Brovia; great spiritual help also from Canon Novo, Monsignor Fassino, Father Rossi, Monsignor Molino, Canon Danusso and Canon Varaldi.
Uncle James paid for the first machines.
On a number of occasions, early on, the Socialists in Alba threatened to set fire to the printing plant, the house and newspapers; [we] passed nights without sleep, keeping watch so that at least the boys would not run any danger or be too frightened. The same thing happened with the initial establishment of Fascism; and when the threats began to turn into formal notice and action, the Cooperators who had lent money for the buildings began to lack confidence; the outcome of this was serious embarrassment and concern; but no one lacked confidence.24
Rosaries were said constantly, Saint Paul was invoked and Visits25 were made according to the intentions of Primo Maestro.
Spirit and prayer practices
In the seminary of Alba he had found an environment of simple, profound and active spirituality.
An uncle of his had set aside a sizable endowment in the archdiocesan Seminary of Turin26 to be allocated to a relative of his aspiring to the priesthood, or, in lieu of this, [to be used] in accordance with the Archbishop’s judgment.27 He preferred to remain in the seminary of Alba and to pay fees there, given the good spirit he had found there: Superiors, a confessor and spiritual director [possessed] of great virtue, zeal and experience; a family atmosphere, serious study, even if not first class, and edifying companions.
There was an abundance of preaching; meditations and spiritual reading and lives of the saints of recent centuries; all of it drawing inspiration from Saint Francis de Sales, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, The Imitation of Christ, Saint John Bosco and Saint [Giuseppe] Cottolengo.28
Every Sunday, for a number of years, [there was] a lofty form of entertainment on the purity of doctrine in the various and most talked about topics and on the duty of obedience to the authority of the Church. [It was] always held by the Bishop [whose learning was such] that one could not discern whether he was more at home in Theology, or Philosophy, or Canon Law, or Sociology.29
Daily Communion, which was not then the norm in many seminaries, was being introduced.
Discipline was not burdensome, but people formed deep convictions; although, all in all, it was quite different from the Society of Saint Paul.
He wanted to enrich the Pauline Family with what he had found useful there, seeking to update it more, and adding what could better help to fix a stable life on ipso angulari lapide Christo Iesu.30
The devotions
Bishop Galletti,31 a former Bishop of Alba, had left the devotion to the Eucharist as a spiritual heritage to the diocese and to the seminary in particular.
He32 had collaborated with excellent priests to put into practice in the Diocese the decrees of Blessed Pius X on frequent Communion, on Communion for children and on Communion for the sick, insisting especially on the timely administration of Viaticum.33
For about ten years he was in charge of Spiritual Direction34 in the (minor and major) Seminaries,35 and had to give the usual meditations and sermons. The person who had carried out this role previously had usually dedicated the first week of the month to the devotions: Guardian Angel, Souls in Purgatory, Saint Joseph, the Eucharist, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Virgin Mary, and the Trinity. He continued the same custom in accordance with the wishes of the seminary superiors, seeing it quite useful.
Then he introduced [this custom] when the Pauline Family began; only he tailored it to [the Family’s] particular need, making way for the devotion to Saint Paul the Apostle, and to the Divine Master, which sums up every devotion to Jesus Christ, reflecting on him as Child in the crib, Worker at Nazareth, Teacher in his public life, the One crucified for our redemption, Eucharist in the Tabernacle, and loving Heart bestowing gifts on humanity.
The devotion to the Queen of Apostles was also inculcated first in the seminary: under her patronage were [placed] the (1912-1915) conferences on pastoral care, the lessons on Sociology, and the first steps of the newly-ordained priests in their ministry. Mary is the Co-Apostle; as she is the Coredemptrix.
Mary received a twofold communication: [a message] from the Angel Gabriel, who told her of her divine Motherhood as regards Jesus Christ, and the message of the crucified Jesus Christ, who told her of her universal motherhood as regards his mystical Body which is the Church.
We can give no greater wealth to this poor and proud world than Jesus Christ.
Mary gave the world grace in Jesus Christ; she goes on offering him down the ages: in this role [as] universal Mediatrix of grace she is our mother.
The world needs Jesus Christ Way, Truth and Life. [Mary] gives him through apostles and their apostolates. She raises them up, trains them, assists them, and crowns them with good results and glory in heaven.
Everything must conclude on Sunday in one great Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus36 in honor of the Blessed Trinity, [words] sung by the angels, as Jesus Christ’s program of life, apostolate and redemption; the Pauline lives in Christ.37
In the seminary, with the consent of the Bishop, he had introduced daily Communion, a monthly day of recollection, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on the First Friday of the month, and a second Mass on Sunday. When he saw the good outcome [of these practices], he enriched the Pauline Family with them.

1 The “dream” mentioned here must have taken place in 1923, when the Founder was struck down by a serious illness, and which he survived in a seemingly miraculous manner, as he himself mentions in AD 64. – There is further mention of the same dream in Mihi vivere Christus est (MV, 1938) 139. Cf. below, AD 158, note 8.

2 It seems that these words were heard in Latin: “Nolite timere, Ego vobiscum sum. Ab hinc illuminare volo. Cor pœnitens tenete.”

3 This paragraph, which was in the original ms and in all the printed editions, has curiously disappeared from the ds. Our belief is that this was an oversight on the part of the typist and then went unobserved by the Author in his revision of the text.

4 This paragraph too is found only in the ms.

5 At this point in the ms the Author leaves a lot of white space, which seems quite out of place. Perhaps he was not fully satisfied and intended to add something.

6 Abhinc is an adverb in Latin. It is used in its proper sense as an adverb of place: from here, from this place, and more frequently by the classics in a translated sense, with a temporal meaning, in reference to the past or the future. It is difficult to know the reason why Fr Alberione says: “he thought of sacrificing grammar to meaning.” A possible explanation could be the following. According to “the grammar”, he could have used the simple form hinc (which by itself means: from here); but to highlight the “meaning” he preferred the compound ab hinc (two separate terms) precisely to emphasize the Divine Master’s “prolonged pointing with his hand to the Tabernacle”: “ab hinc”, from here, that is, from the Tabernacle.

7 This last sentence “that the pen...”, present in the ms and in all the printed editions, was cancelled from the ds with a pen stroke. We consider it appropriate to leave it in all the same.

8 Cf. the traditional prayer: “By myself I can do nothing, - with God I can do everything, - for love of God I want to do everything. – To God the honor, to me contempt.” Such expressions of humility are better understood here if compared with the first narration of the dream, which Fr Alberione made in 1938, and referred to in Mihi vivere Christus est: “The Divine Master was walking along with some of you at his side and he said: Be not afraid, I am with you; From here I want to enlighten; only cherish humility… and, I think, Be sorry for sins” (MV 139).

9 Fr A. COLACRAI has written a commentary on this prayer, along with a history of its various draftings. Cf. Segreto di riuscita, Ed. Archivio Storico Generale della F.P., Rome 1985


10 The following two paragraphs 159-160, missing in the ms, were added to the ds text with an offcut that was glued (wrongly, in our opinion) after 154, before the explanation of the dream. We quote these paragraphs here, in conformity with the arrangement and numbering adopted by the 1971 and 1985 editions.

11 Cf. Jn 14:6.

12 The meaning of the word is obviously “adult age”, “maturity”.

13 “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). The textual wording is: “Vivo autem iam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus.”

14 Perhaps the more correct meaning of the sentence is: “they offered prayers and sacrifices according to the intention...”

15 Agostino Borello (1883-1902). – Angelo Fanteguzzi (1893-1917). – Enrico Saffirio (1884-1918). – Giacomo Destefanis (1887-1917). – Ermenegildo Villari (1884-1921).

16 Maggiorino Vigolungo (6.5.1904 - 27.7.1918) was a pupil of the Little Worker Printing School from 15.10.1916 up to the day of his death. With the acknowledgment of the heroic nature of his virtues, he was declared Venerable on 28.3.1988.

17 Amalia Cavazza-Vitali (1866-1921), a woman from Barbaresco (Cuneo). She helped the fledgling institution of Fr James Alberione in all kinds of ways: with prayers, offerings of money and goods, and with her expertise as a writer. She founded the Association of Perpetual Holy Masses within the Pious Society of Saint Paul, depositing a sum of money for six Masses every year. She wrote I doveri delle Spose e delle Madri, Alba, Scuola Tipografica, 1918.

18 Clelia Calliano (1892-1918) died when the Daughters of Saint Paul, who then lived in Via Accademia n. 5, Alba, had already received the invitation to move to Susa (Turin). – Not to be forgotten among the others who offered their lives for Fr Alberione’s foundations is Angela Maria Boffi (1886-1926), Superior of the same Daughters of Saint Paul from 1915 to 1922, when the reins of government of the fledgling Congregation passed to Teresa Merlo, Sr (now Venerable) Maria Thecla (1894-1964).

19 The four “branches” are the “Pauline Families” mentioned above, that is, the four Congregations then in existence (cf AD 33-35). This interpretation seems to us to be the more obvious, rather than the one that sees an allusion to the four “wheels” (cf AD 100).

20 A quite compact paragraph, but the syntax leaves much to be desired, probably because there is something missing. A plausible interpretation could be the following: “With this help [sacrifices, etc.] there is a [superior] help that he is not fully able to grasp: faith in the pact with God, the continual blessings, etc.”

21 While the printed editions have “lo” [it] (masculine, in keeping with “questo” [this], the previous pronoun), the ds has “la” (feminine), probably in keeping with “spesa” [expenditure].

22 The verb implied here is resulted.

23 This was his uncle Giacomo Alberione (1838-1914). Cf. AD 171.

24 The words “but no one lacked confidence” is a handwritten addition to the ds. Perhaps the Author was unaware that it was a repetition and, at least verbally, contradictory to what is written just above.

25 Eucharistic Visits or Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, in accordance with the Alberione tradition.

26 The archdiocese of Turin had a number of minor and major seminaries, such as those of Turin, Chieri, Bra, Giaveno and Rivoli. On the history of the seminary of Bra, cf. G. BARBERO, “I bei Seminari d’Italia: Il seminario arcivescovile di Bra”, in Palestra del Clero, 43 (1964) 192-204.

27 No further particulars of this endowment are known. It is certain that James Alberione did not benefit from any endowment at Bra. From the words here, it seems that the uncle made the endowment when his nephew was already in the diocesan seminary of Alba.

28 To these authors we need to add Peter Julian Eymard. Elsewhere we learn that Fr Alberione had read, studied and assimilated his writings: cf. A.F. DA SILVA, Il cammino degli Esercizi…, cit., p. 36 and elsewhere.

29 The famous Lettera dell’Episcopato Piemontese against the Modernists, in defense of the Pope’s position, is to be attributed to Bishop F. Re. See the endorsement given by Fr Enrico Rosa S.J., in a reply from Rome concerning the approval of the fledgling Pauline Family: “...I am always grateful to your Excellency for your sound intervention at the time of Modernism, with that masterly letter of the Piedmontese Episcopate which resounded far and wide at that time and had also... such effect especially in Upper Italy, against the errors...” (cf. G. ROCCA, cit., doc. 87).

30 “...the corner-stone, Jesus Christ himself” (Eph 2:20).

31 Eugenio Galletti (1816-1879) became Bishop of Alba in 1867, after the see had been vacant for fourteen years.

32 The subject is once again Fr Alberione.

33 Cf. PIUS X, Sacra Tridentina Synodus, decree of 20.12.1905. – When the Author was writing, Pius X was still Blessed; he was canonized a few months later, on 29.5.1954.

34 Fr Alberione held the office of Spiritual Director in the Seminary of Alba almost uninterruptedly from 1908 to 1920.

35 Only one building, but two groups of seminarians.

36 Cf. Missale Romanum, “Gloria”; cf. also Lk 2:14.

37 This expression leads to a problem of interpretation in that the ms and the ds differ. In the first (ms) we find: “the Pauline [way of] living in Christ”. In the ds instead: “the Pauline lives in Christ”. The first interpretation would mean: what is set out above corresponds to “living in Christ” according to Saint Paul. The word “Pauline” in this case, “the Pauline [way of] living in Christ” would be an adjective, referring to the Apostle. In the second case, understood as a noun, “Pauline” indicates the religious of the Pauline Family, who lives in Christ (cf. 2 Tim 3:12).