Blessed James Alberione

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He belonged to the tribe of Levi, descending from the family of the first priest, Aaron. He was with the Jews who remained in Persia after the edict of Cyrus in 536.
He went for the first time to his country in 445 with Nehemia and read the law of Moses before all the people gathered together. Then he returned to the land of exile to lead other Jews back to Palestine. In fact, in 398 he obtained from King Artaxerxes a decree that granted freedom to anyone to go to Jerusalem. Not only that, but the king allowed him to gather offerings and to ask the treasurers whatever he needed.
Many Jews, numbering 260, joined him. Upon reaching Jerusalem, he dedicated himself to the moral reformation of the people, completing what Nehemia had already done before him.
Desolate because of the harm caused by mixed marriages, he prohibited marrying foreign women and sought to lead back the people to the Law of the Lord.
The two books of the Paralipomenon1 and the two books that bear his name are attributed to him.

The Books of the Paralipomena, Chronicles in Hebrew, start from the time of Adam to the edict of Cyrus and they can be divided into three distinct parts.
The first part, after having presented the genealogies from Adam to Jacob, of Judah, David, and all the tribes, except Zabulon and Dan, speaks of the ancient inhabitants of Jerusalem and ends with the exposition of Saul's genealogy.
The second part speaks of David, aiming at his relationships with Jerusalem, the liturgy, and the temple, and follows him until his death.
The third part talks about Solomon and his glory, especially of the temple. It moves on to speak about the schism and the time of struggle between the two kingdoms, then of the period of alliance between Israel and Judah; finally, it speaks of the kings of Judah from Johas to Hezekiah and from Hezekiah to the exile.
The Paralipomena are not an appendix to the books of Kings, but a distinct work, which has as its purpose to expose, exclusively from the religious point of view, the story of David and of his descendants; to show that faithfulness to God is a source of happiness, while unfaithfulness and idolatry destroy kingdoms.
Most say that they have been written by Ezra, who also is the author of the two books that bear his name.


They speak of the civil and religious restoration of Israel in Palestine, after the exile in Babylon, and embrace the historical period from the edict of Cyrus to the last years of Ezra and has some addition that reaches the time of Alexander the Great.3 In a fragmentary form, they speak of the return from exile, of the rebuilding of the temple and of the walls of Jerusalem, and of the civil and religious reforms accomplished by Nehemiah and Ezra.
The first book speaks about the repatriation of the Jews guided by Zerubbabel, of the rebuilding of the walls, of the temple, and of the reforms of Ezra who goes to Jerusalem with another big group.
The second book talks about the return of Nehemiah and of his work done in Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the walls.
This is the order of the events as narrated in the two books, but the chronological order is different. Nehemiah would have returned first and Ezra would have completed his work.


The Bible and Moral Theology4

In your kindness give me life,
to keep the decrees you have spoken.

(Ps 118/119:88)

What is Moral Theology?
Moral Theology is the science that guides human actions according to the law of God, so that man may achieve his goal, which is eternal life.
In other words, we can say that Moral Theology is a vast explanation of the second part of the Catechism that goes under the name of Commandments and precepts.
As the Catechism shows in the first part the principal truths every Christian has to believe and, in the second part, the law to observe in view of achieving life eternal, so does Theology: Dogmatics deals with truths to be believed, Moral Theology instead with laws to be observed.
Moral Theology tells us:
1st. Who the lawgiver is, that is, who makes and promulgates the law;
2nd. In what this law consists;
3rd. Shows the sanctions, that is, the rewards for him who observes the laws or the penalties for him who violates them.
The purpose then of Moral Theology is to let men know the divine will so that in doing it, they may be saved.
It tells us that there are two roads that lead to Heaven: the narrow road of the Commandments, and the very narrow road of the evangelical counsels.5
Moral Theology, like Dogmatic Theology, draws its sublime teachings from the Bible. It is there that greater part of moral laws have their foundation and principle.
We can very well construct the entire Moral Theology on the Bible. In fact the Bible tells us that the lawgiver is God; and that He, being the Creator and absolute master of everything, has the full right to command. Furthermore, it shows us God's Commandments and gives us the motive and reason why they are to be observed. Finally, it promises blessings to him who observes them and threatens with maledictions and punishments him who violates them.
First of all: the Bible gives us a lofty and sublime idea of God; it describes Him for us as Creator and Father of all things, as lawgiver and ruler of the Universe; to be convinced about this, it suffices to read the first chapters of Genesis. Audi, Israel, Dominus Deus tuus...: Hear, O Israel,6 because your God speaks to you.
At the beginning of the Commandments, we say: I am the Lord, your God: a magnificent preamble, with which the Lord wants to tell us: It is your
God, your Creator who speaks to you; it is I, your Lord, who orders to you what is contained in the Ten Commandments: listen to them and observe them.
Furthermore, the Bible shows us the law, and it is for this that very often the sacred Book is simply called the Law.
In Exodus, Chapter 20, we find manifested that Decalogue that God gave to Moses amidst thunder and lightning: I, the LORD, am your God... You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God... You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain. Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave... Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you... You shall not kill... You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him. (Ex 20:2-17)
This is the exposition of the Ten Commandments, that is, the Law properly called, but then Holy Scripture has countless comments, recommendations of this law, and we can say that the rest of the Bible is a development
and application of them. It is enough to open it randomly to be quickly convinced of it.
About a third of the verses of the Psalms speak about or recommends the Holy Law of God; and Psalm 118,7 which is the longest, is entirely a praise, a recommendation of the divine Law. Only one verse does not speak of the Law, all the other 175 expressly mention it.
It is unfortunate that many do not give to God's Law all the importance it deserves! They perhaps observe, scrupulously, all the human laws for fear of a very small fine. Little importance, however, is given to God's law! Why so? Because of ignorance, or lack of reverence, or lack of love.
On the contrary, he who reads the Bible acquires such a lofty and sublime idea of the divine law, and sees such beauty therein that he desires ever more strongly to know it better, and goes seeking and listening to all that may be of use to him to illustrate and comment on it.

* * *

In the Bible are shown not only God's Commandments, but also the reason and foundation of all the precepts of the Church.
One day, the Divine Master, calling to himself St. Peter, asked him: Peter, do you love me? For three times Jesus asks him this question, and after the three-fold expression of love by the Apostle, he tells him: Pasce agnos meos, pasce oves meas (Jn 21:17);8 and, according to the Council of Trent, the office of shepherding belongs to the Bishops and the Church and constitutes the so-called power to govern spiritually. And he conferred on Peter and in him to all his legitimate
successors legislative, executive and judiciary power.
Hence, the power the Church has to issue precepts and that of making them be observed, has further its explanation and foundation in Holy Scripture.
The holy precepts of the Church are like an emanation or conclusion of God's Commandments. One or the other, however, arises from Sacred Scripture:
There are five precepts of the Church:
1. To hear Mass on Sundays and holidays of obligation.
2. Not to eat meat on Fridays and on prohibited days, and to fast during the prescribed days.
3. To go to Confession at least once a year and to receive Communion at least on Easter.
4. To support the needs of the Church, contributing according to laws and customs.
5. Not to solemnly celebrate weddings during prohibited days.

* * *

Thirdly, the Bible, as Moral Theology does, tells us the sanctions of the divine law.
Most recent is a book of about 200 pages wherein are gathered, in the first part, all the promises of blessings contained in the Bible given to him who observes the law of God and the Church. In the second part, on the other hand, are shown all the punishments and threats that the Lord makes to transgressors of his law.
To convince ourselves of this, let us open the Bible and let us read chapter 28 of Deuteronomy: Thus, then, shall it be: if you continue to heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and are careful to observe all his commandments which I enjoin on you today, the LORD,
your God, will raise you high above all the nations of the earth. When you hearken to the voice of the LORD, your God, all these blessings will come upon you and overwhelm you. May you be blessed in the city, and blessed in the country! Blessed be the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock, the issue of your herds and the young of your flocks! ... But if you do not hearken to the voice of the LORD, your God, and are not careful to observe all his commandments which I enjoin on you today, all these curses shall come upon you and overwhelm you: May you be cursed in the city, and cursed in the country! Cursed be your grain bin and your kneading bowl! Cursed be the fruit of your womb, the produce of your soil and the offspring of your livestock, the issue of your herds and the young of your flocks! May you be cursed in your coming in, and cursed in your going out!9
Certain sins, it is true, are hidden from the eyes of men, but they are not before God. Meanwhile, many families are displaced due to the fact that they do not observe the holy law of God. The reason given is this or that but the true cause is that God's law has not been observed.
Instead, among families where the Commandments of God and of the Church are respected and observed, peace and prosperity envied by the impious reign.
Oh, let us heartily ask the Lord's forgiveness for having so many times forgotten and transgressed his Holy Law! And let us detest our foolishness.

EXAMPLE. - St. Cyprian. - He lived in the 3rd century, during the time of persecutions; he was a courageous Bishop of Carthage and a Martyr.
His biography says that he had undertaken the study of the writings of Tertullian, especially The Apologetics; however
Tertullian was not his only teacher, nor the principal one. It is from the Scriptures above all that he drew his lessons. To make his studies of the Scriptures more fruitful, he used to write the most characteristic passages, especially those regarding the defense of the Church and the practice of Christian duties. And when his friend Quirinius, a rich recently converted Christian of Carthage, asks the Bishop something written to complete his instruction, for him Cyprian groups together and coordinates those Biblical quotes into chapters and books, according to a logical and well-conceived plan.
That little work, a simple collection of texts, is very precious for the history of the Latin Bible. It became the Christian's manual, popular for a long time in Christian Africa.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - I shall recite the Miserere in reparation for transgressions and neglect of the Law of God.


Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.
He has raised up a horn for our salvation
within the house of David his servant,
even as he promised
through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old:
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us,
to show mercy to our fathers
and to be mindful of his holy covenant
and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father,
and to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies,
without fear we might worship him
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God
by which the daybreak from on high will visit us
to shine on those who sit in darkness
and death's shadow,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.

(Lk 1:68-79)10


Charity, the center of morals

Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute (you), bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.
Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.
Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.

(Rom 12:9-21)


Blessed may you be, O Lord

Blessed may you be, O LORD, God of Israel our father, from eternity to eternity. Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power, majesty, splendor, and glory. For all in heaven and on earth is yours; yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty; you are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor are from you, and you have dominion over all. In your hand are power and might; it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.
Therefore, our God, we give you thanks and we praise the majesty of your name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should have the means to contribute so freely?
For everything is from you, and we only give you what we have received from you. For we stand before you as aliens: we are only your guests, like all our fathers. Our life on earth is like a shadow that does not abide. O LORD our God, all this wealth that we have brought together to build you a house in honor of your holy name comes from you and is entirely yours. I know, O my God, that you put hearts to the test and that you take pleasure in uprightness. With a sincere heart I have willingly given all these things, and now with joy I have seen your people here present also giving to you generously. O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep such thoughts in the hearts and minds of your people forever, and direct their hearts toward you.

(1Chr 29:10-18)


1 The Paralipomena are 1/2Chronicles. These two books of the OT that follow the two books of Kings (III/IV Kgs, according to LS) correspond to the Hebrew title “Facts or words of the days.” For the Jews, they formed a single book that occupies the last place in their canon. In the Greek translation of the LXX and the Latin translation by Jerome, the Chronicles were called Paralipomena, a term that means “what was omitted in the [preceding] tradition.” The complete title given by Jerome was: “Chronicle of all sacred history” and it indicates with relative precision the content of the book.

2 On the attribution of the two books of Ezra, see note 9 on page. 18.

3 Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), son of Philip, King of Macedon and disciple of Aristotle, was the conqueror and organizer of an empire that extended from the eastern part of the Mediterrenean Sea (Greece and Egypt) up to India (cf. 1Mc 1:1-9; 6:2) establishing what was called the “Hellenic civilization.” Some passages of Daniel's prophecies probably refer to him and to his kingdom (cf. Dn 2:40-41; 7:7; 11:3-4). The historiography that has seen in Hellenism the age of “conversion” to the Jewish-Christian religion has also included therein the Latin culture and philosophy of the first centuries of the Christian era.

4 The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church sheds light on this theme: “The Bible closely unites to the narratives of the history of salvation numerous instructions on how to behave: commandments, prohibitions, juridical prescriptions, exhortations and prophetic invectives, advices of the wise. One of the tasks of exegesis is to clarify the scope of this abundant material and thus to prepare the work of moral theologians.” (no. 39)

5 These “counsels” are the three religious vows of obedience, chastity and poverty, as will be said on p. 153.

6 Here reference is made to the Shema Israel (“Hear, Israel”), the prayer that makes up the profession of the Hebrew faith. It is made up of three Biblical passages (Dt 6:4-9; 11:13-21; Nm 15:37-41) that proclaim the unity of God, the commandment to love him above all things, the meditation of his laws and the observance of the prescriptions of the phylacteries (tefillim), of mezuzah (biblical passage placed in a pouch and fixed at the door beams) and of the seams of clothes, as “memorials” of the will of God. The Shema is recited everyday, morning and evening, and its first verse is said even by the dying.

7 It is now Ps 119.

8 Cf. Jn 21:15-17: “Feed my lambs... feed my sheep...”

9 Dt 28:1-4,15-19.

10 LS shows “Luca 1, 68-80,” (Lk 1:68-80) but the passage quoted ends with verse 79.