Blessed James Alberione

Opera Omnia


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It is a jewel of art and of refinement.
The thesis advanced is that divine Providence, if it tries the just, never abandons them, but makes them happy even in this life.
After describing the misadventure of Tobit (poor and blind) and of Sarah (insulted because she had seven husbands killed by the devil), the book shows divine Providence that sends the Archangel Raphael to guide Tobit's son1 as he goes to Media to collect ten talents from a certain Gabael. The Archangel frees Tobit's son from the fish, Sarah from the devil, and makes her the bride of Tobit's son; finally, after returning from Media, he restores Tobit's sight
According to most, the book was written by Tobit himself, in the VII century before Christ.

The Bible and the ecclesiastical state

With all my heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commands.

(Ps 118/119:10)

Many read the Holy Bible, but few are those who know how to read it well. It is necessary, especially for those called to priesthood, to know how to draw and learn from such reading the teachings of the five Theologies: dogmatic, moral, pastoral, ascetic and mystical, with each of them being founded on the divine book.
The young man who reads the Bible with such an intention shall see ahead of him boundless horizons. His mind shall understand the motive and divine beauty of so many truths that later he shall have to study and hear explained. A mysterious light shall continually brighten his intelligence and shall guide him through the mysterious ways of divine science.
His will, encouraged by the example of holy men told by the Bible, shall acquire tenacity and courage in the practice of Christian morals. And his heart shall see opened before it infinite ways and thus he will be able to give vent to his love for God and neighbor.

* * *

In the preceding days we have reflected on the Bible in relation to Dogmatic
and Moral Theology. Today would remain meditation on the Bible and Pastoral Theology.
What is Pastoral Theology?
St. Gregory the Great defines Pastoral Theology as: Ars artium, regimen animarum: that is, the art of saving souls. It is the art of pasturing souls well and of leading them to heaven.
In order to understand well this definition, we would need to hear from Jesus' lips themselves the divine saying: I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. (Jn 10:11)
Even in this art, Jesus is the model, the Teacher. We need to imitate him. But we cannot imitate the examples of a teacher if we do not know him. Hence, it is necessary that the shepherd of souls and those called to such a work should open the holy Gospel and read it.

* * *

Today2 the practice of pastoral life is on the way of a very particular development. Proof of this are the numerous translations of the wonderful book of St. Gregory the Great: Regole pastorali,3 (Pastoral Rules) written by the Supreme Pontiff for the formation of a holy clergy.
What a consoling development the work of catechization and instruction, especially of the young, is having today! The works of charity, beneficence, good and pastoral press, etc.
As we know, the soul of all these activities that have as goal the sanctification of souls, ought to be the Priest. He is the true established shepherd.
The Priest, for his souls, must be: pulpit, altar, and confessional.
1st. He must be a pulpit: that is, he must enlighten, instruct his sheep with the word, written if necessary. Not only that, but after the example of Jesus Christ, he has to be a living pulpit, that is, through his holy life, continually preach, admonish, push to good the souls that follow him.
2nd. He must be a confessional. The priest must know how to go and look for the lost sheep, free it from the thorns in which it is entangled and bring it to safety. He must know how to attract sinners, let himself be loved by children to be able to handle them in their innocence and keep them always pure as lilies.
It is the art of the priest to know how to be small among the small, poor among the poor, to deal with adults, with the dying, with sinners of all sorts. He, in a word, has to be all to everyone, as was Jesus Master, in order to save them all.
3rd. He must be an altar: the good shepherd of souls, furthermore, must not only teach virtue and show it to souls, but must also communicate the grace and the strength to truly practice it. It is on the altar that he puts himself as mysterious channel between God and souls and obtains for them every grace and heavenly blessing.
It is true: the priest seems to be alone on the altar, and yet he is in intimate communication with God. He presents to God all his needs and those of souls; he offers for all the divine sacrifice. In the Holy Mass, the priest offers in sacrifice
not only the divine victim, but also himself: his comforts, his interests, his ego.
This is the identity of the pastor of souls.
But from where do we know that such ought to be the priest's life? How can we say that this is the life of a very good shepherd of souls?
We know it from the Bible.
The Sacred Scriptures, in the succession of the various books, put before our eyes the marvelous examples of the first Patriarchs, placed as pastors and heads of the chosen people.
In the Book of Leviticus, we know of the important office of the tribe of Levi, chosen from among the twelve tribes of Israel, to exercise the office of divine worship; that is, one-twelfth of the Jewish people was dedicated exclusively to this important work. Then the Bible narrates to us examples of holy priests who are for all pastors of souls a stimulus to accomplish well their task.
The Priest, however, learns the ars artium especially from the New Testament. It is in those sacrosanct pages that he can contemplate the divine model, Jesus Christ; it is there that he sees him as all love and tenderness for the children. It is through the Gospel that we know the immense love of Jesus for sinners.
Anyone who wanted to write the best treatise of Pastoral Theology has but to take the Holy Gospel and comment on it. Thus, in fact, did St. Gregory the Great in his Pastoral Rules, which is nothing but a commentary, an explanation of some chapters of the books of the New Testament.
A book4 was recently published where it is fully demonstrated that the New Testament, especially the Acts of the Apostles, is the best treatise of Pastoral Theology; stated in it
is that the life of apostolate of St. Paul is the most perfect model, after that of Jesus, for a pastor of souls.
Priests and clerics, open that sacred book. There you have your code, your rule of life. There you shall learn how to save souls. The Gospel is a magnificent compendium of Pastoral Theology.

EXAMPLE. - St. Gregory the Great. - He was named the Great for the number and importance of his works. St. Gregory was one of the greatest Popes the Church has ever had.
Knowing that he could not have served God completely living in the world, he put into practice the evangelical counsel of selling one's property and give its sales to the poor, in order to withdraw to the monastic life in the monastery of St. Andrew founded by him.
He embraced as his occupation prayer, penance, and the assiduous study of the Sacred Scriptures, from where he drew to write his marvelous works: proof of this are I Morali [The Morals] on the book of Job.5 He is the doctor of Pastoral Theology.
From the chair of St. Peter to which he had been unanimously elevated, he recommended to Superiors of monasteries that they promote above all the study of the Holy Books. And to a courtesan of Constantinople whom he knew while he was the Emperor's Nuncio, he wrote: I have a complaint against you, and it is that you, finding yourself busy with many occupations, neglect reading everyday the words of Him who has redeemed you; because what is Sacred Scripture if not a letter the omnipotent God has written to his creature? Certainly, if you received a letter from an emperor of this earth, you would not know how to find rest, and you would deprive yourself even of sleep, until you have read what he had written to you. Now, the emperor of Heaven, the Lord of men and Angels, has sent you his letters, where your life is concerned, and yet you neglect reading them. Seek to change your conduct and for the future, do not let any day
pass, wherein you do not read the words of your Creator and meditate on them.
Let us understand these words of the Saint as addressed to each of us and let us put into practice the advice of daily reading of Holy Scripture.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - I will recite three Pater, Ave, Gloria to Jesus Master in order that pastors of souls may be formed through the study of the Sacred Scriptures.


On that day, you will say:
I give you thanks, O LORD;
though you have been angry with me,
your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,
and say on that day: Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!

(Is 12:1-6)


Christians must obey their Priests and pray for them

Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Pray for us, for we are confident that we have a clear conscience, wishing to act rightly in every respect. I especially ask for your prayers that I may be restored to you very soon.
May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, furnish you
with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever (and ever). Amen.

(Heb 13:17-21)6


LORD, God of Israel, there is no god like you in heaven or on earth; you keep your covenant and show kindness to your servants who are wholeheartedly faithful to you. You have kept the promise you made to my father David, your servant. With your own mouth you spoke it, and by your own hand you have brought it to fulfillment this day. Now, therefore, LORD, God of Israel, keep the further promise you made to my father David, your servant, when you said, 'You shall always have someone from your line to sit before me on the throne of Israel, provided only that your descendants look to their conduct so as always to live according to my law, even as you have lived in my presence.' ... Can it indeed be that God dwells with mankind on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built! Look kindly on the prayer and petition of your servant, O LORD, my God, and listen to the cry of supplication your servant makes before you.

(2Chr 6:14-17:19)7


1 Tobiah, son of Tobit, has the same name as his father.

2 Reread the invitation on page 18 to consider the books that today are printed in the world (pp. 32, 45, 48, 53...). The today is usually referred to the reading of the Scriptures. In the Pastoral Note of the CEI (1995) we read: “Today is the time of the “great hunger” for the Word of the Lord... Also today, while we are invited to intensely get committed to the “new evangelization, it is God himself who, through the sacred book, evangelizes his people, speaks to their heart as a father to his children” (no. 25). In LS, on p. 78, it is lamented that “men of today esteem natural sciences more, useful for the present life and not for the future.

3 The title is Regula pastoralis. In this Regula, divided into 4 parts, Gregory sheds light on the loftiness of the Episcopal dignity; he underlines the virtues of the pastor; traces the manner with which to educate the different categories of the faithful and finally exhorts the bishop to continuous personal renewal, in order to make his word more incisive and effective. The Regula pastoralis enjoyed very great diffusion during the Middle Ages and even today is read with fruit by pastors of souls, becoming for them what the Regula Benedicti was for monks and religious in general.

4 It is difficult to establish to what book Don Alberione refers. One could examine the Letture Bibliche (Bible Readings) directed by Ferruccio Valente and published by SEI in 1928; Il Divino Maestro [The Divine Master], Concordant text of the four Gospels, with notes, Pia Società San Paolo, Alba 1929 (pp. 330). There also was “Via, Veritas et Vita,” Manuale di Catechismo, Rome 1928, published by B. M. Maroni.

5 The Expositio in Iob, which is also titled Moralia in Iob, was begun in Constantinople in the form of conversations addressed to confreres and continued in part through dictation. Eventually Gregory reworked everything.

6 LS reads “Ebr. III, 17-21,” (Heb 3:17-21) but the quote refers to Ch. 13.

7 In LS the quote is “III Re, III, 23 e seg.” (III Kgs 3:23 and ff), but even referring to the Vulgate, it seems mistaken.