Blessed James Alberione

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It is a marvelous poem, written during the golden age of Jewish literature, probably during the time of Solomon.
The book introduces to us the very pious Job, stricken by the most tremendous misfortunes and visited by three friends, who upon seeing him, turn mute out of dismay. The painful silence is broken by the anguished cry of Job, a cry that his friends understood as blasphemy, and which gives occasion to the most difficult question of pain. His friends tell Job that his misfortunes are well deserved because of his sins. Job declares himself innocent and, not believed and insulted by his friends, he appeals to God.
His friends speak three times, always with the same order, but for the last time, the second stammers and the third remains mute.
With his friends reduced to silence, Job declares himself innocent and says that his punishment is not proportionate to his sins. At this point, a third person intervenes: Eliu, who reveals the purpose of pain and exalts divine wisdom. Finally, God intervenes to reveal the audacity of men in wanting to investigate the designs of God.
As one can see, this book attempts to resolve, with a concrete event, one of the most difficult questions: how come the just man is at times oppressed by evil. The teaching that comes from the book is that pain does not only make one expiate for the sins he committed, but purifies and renders one virtuous and that man, instead of being curious about the ways of Divine Providence, must submit himself, thinking that God does everything with wisdom, justice and goodness.

The Bible and Mystical Theology

How I love your teaching, Lord! I study it all day long.
(Sal 118/119:97)

Just like Dogmatic, Moral, Ascetic, and Pastoral Theology, also Mystical Theology draws from the Bible.
WHAT IS MYSTICAL THEOLOGY? It is that part of Sacred Theology that concerns the union of the soul with God, achieved through extraordinary paths; hence its purpose shall be to teach and guide the souls to the highest perfection.1
It is a sublime and difficult science that few souls know and practice. In spite of this, it has its own foundation and its clear and secure principles, inasmuch as it makes as its base the Bible and Tradition, both secure and infallible sources.
Material for mystical theology are those extraordinary things that we read in the life of certain Saints, like ecstasies, apparitions, revelations, stigmata, bilocations and other mystical phenomena.
The life of Blessed Gemma Galgani2 is entirely a mystical life. This young virgin from Lucca reached the point of spiritual espousals which is the highest level of Mysticism. She knew things
hidden and those to happen. She bore in her hands and feet the sacred Stigmata and it is said that her angel often appeared and conversed with her.
Souls that enjoy such supernatural gifts have nothing to boast about since these are entirely gratuitous graces that the Lord generally concedes for the edification of all, according to the teachings of St. Paul: To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. (1Cor 12:7)
The Lord gives these gifts to whom he wants and how he wants: Spiritus... dividens singulis prout vult. (1Cor 12:11) Hence one, to whom such gifts are given, has nothing to boast about as he has freely received them from the Lord.

* * *

The relationships that pass between Mystical Theology and Sacred Scriptures are very close. In fact, the action of the hagiographers who write under the inspiration and assistance of the Holy Spirit, belongs to Mysticism.
Who is he who with but natural enlightenment could have predicted, hundreds and hundreds of years earlier, the smallest details of the Redeemer's life as Isaiah did? Who can say with conviction, upon reading the Gospel and the Apocalypse of St. John, that such books were written by a simple man, without divine intervention? Certainly, no one, because all men put together could not have been able to understand and much less describe the most sublime things contained therein.
The entire Sacred Scriptures came about through a mystical gift.3 Very many truths contained in them were miraculously known
by the hagiographers, or seeing them in visions as St. John saw them or hearing them directly from God as Moses.
Hence, mystical science is not something uncertain or abstract, but is a true and certain science and the most beautiful proof of it is the Holy Bible, written entirely through divine inspiration.

* * *

Another reason for which it was said that there is a very close relationship between Mystical Theology and Sacred Scriptures is that the entire mystical science is drawn from the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, there are certain books like David's Psalter and the Prophets that contain sublime prayers that raise the soul up to God and lead her into the most intimate communication with the Holy Trinity.
The very beautiful short poem, the Song of Songs is even called the Canticle of Mystics. It is an intimate dialog between the soul in love and the Heavenly Spouse. It has the purpose of bringing the soul up to the Most High, until the highest level of Mysticism which is the espousal of the soul in love with Jesus Christ.
It was the favorite book of all mystical souls, first among them the Most Blessed Virgin, who read it who knows with what delight and understanding! It was also the favorite book of St. Paul, who so assimilated the very lofty message of the Song of Songs that his fourteen letters in turn constitute other tracts of Mystical Theology and inexhaustible sources to which all souls thirsting for the love of God have recourse.
St. Paul is the great teacher of Mystical Theology, not only because he left us the precious treasure of his letters, but because he himself gave us
examples of a very high level of union with God.
Mysticism therefore is not a human science that man may understand with only the light of reason, but it is a divine and supernatural science; it stands between heaven and earth; hence it is superior to all human sciences not only as to its origin but also as to its substance.
From where did the Holy Fathers and the Doctors of Mysticism draw their teachings if not from the Bible?
I ought to tell you, O souls thirsty for divine love, to read the books of St. Francis de Sales, of St. Alphonsus, of St. Bernard, and of St. John of the Cross, called the doctor of Mysticism; but what are these books with respect to the Bible? They are nothing but rivulets that flow from the Bible.
Take and read the Bible: there you shall find the living water that shall quench your burning thirst; you will find there the way to love above all things your Heavenly Spouse; you shall find there even the conversations to carry on with Him. In a word, your souls shall find there the way to appease itself completely.4*
It is now about three years that Fr. Vitti, S.J., has started publishing in Civiltà Cattolica a series of articles about the Mystical Theology of St. Paul, with the purpose of leading souls to the true fountain of Mysticism, that is, the Sacred Scriptures, and in Paul to show
to souls one of the most beautiful examples of mystical union.
This learned Jesuit writes in the 17 October 1931 issue: He who wants to enjoy St. Paul must look at him in his intimate union with the Heart of Jesus Christ, in a divine ardor of charity; he must try to perceive the harmony that his humanity, almost not felt anymore, pours out upon contact, the most intimate possible, with the ineffable beauty of divinity. It is only then that the sublimity of the concepts of the doctrine of the Apostle will be reached and their abyss fathomed.
Indeed, whoever desires to raise himself in mystical science, let him contemplate such examples, let him go to the inexhaustible fountain, the Bible, as all the mystical souls did.
The angelic St. Thomas Aquinas knew so well the Song of Songs that during one of the last nights of his life, feeling more than ever ardent in his love for God, he dictated the entire commentary of said book. The death of this excelling teacher was but a passage from this miserable earth to Heaven.
Thus it shall be for him who habitually reads the Bible. The assiduous reader of Sacred Scripture shall burn with love for God and neighbor so much that death for him shall be a decisive passage to Heaven, which consists essentially in love. The soul in love shall certainly be admitted into intimate union with the Spouse Jesus.

EXAMPLE. - St. Bonaventure. - In the numerous array of Doctors of the Church, St. Bonaventure, the intimate friend of St. Thomas Aquinas and one of the first disciples of St. Francis, shines with a special light.
Desirous of perfection, he joined very young the Franciscan Order and there learned from his Father, Francis, besides love for the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin, love for Holy
Scripture, which he made the foundation not only of all his studies, but also of his spiritual self-perfecting.
From there he learned not to be lazy in the path of goodness, but courageous and magnanimous, and to undertake, in the name of God, the most grandiose works, like the struggle against one's own ego.
The example of the young David who, in the name of God, goes against the giant Goliath and wins over him, that of Judith and of many others, were for Bonaventure very strong motives to hurl himself against all enemies. He not only succeeded in dominating perfectly his passions, but went up so high in sanctity that he is called the Seraphic Doctor, as if he were a new Seraphim.
The heart of this most worthy son of St. Francis was by now overflowing with every virtue, and he felt the need to give vent to his feelings. Thus the saint used to go up the pulpit with his face flaming with love and he spoke for hours, without ever tiring his listeners.
The number of listeners, however, was too small for Bonaventure and he was never satisfied although they were such a crowd. He wanted to speak to all men, he wanted to save all because he had read in the Holy Gospel: Go preach the Gospel to all creatures. So what does Bonaventure do? He takes hold of the pen and writes. His writings are truly Seraphic.
Aside from numerous exegetical works, like the commentary on Ecclesiastes, on Wisdom, on the Gospel of St. Luke and St. John, he left us as well 79 conferences held on the Gospel. His principal work, however, was Itinerarium mentis ad Deum: it is here that the Saint reveals himself very high in Mystical Theology, of which he is one of the principal Doctors.
From where did he draw such wisdom, we know directly from him: from the Crucified and from the Holy Scriptures, the only objects that he constantly had on his table.
The teaching that we must extract is suggested to us by St. Bonaventure himself: He who does not love the Holy Scriptures, will never be able to understand its true meaning.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - I shall recite a mystery of the Rosary so that the Holy Bible may read, meditated upon and lived.

Like a swallow I utter shrill cries; I moan like a dove.
My eyes grow weak, gazing heavenward:
O Lord, I am in straits; be my surety!
What am I to say or tell him?
He has done it!
I shall go on through all my years despite the bitterness of my soul.
Those live whom the LORD protects;
yours... the life of my spirit.
You have given me health and life;
thus is my bitterness transformed into peace.
You have preserved my life from the pit of destruction,
When you cast behind your back all my sins.
For it is not the nether world that gives you thanks,
nor death that praises you;
Neither do those who go down into the pit await your kindness.
The living, the living give you thanks, as I do today.
Fathers declare to their sons, O God, your faithfulness.
The LORD is our savior;
we shall sing to stringed instruments
In the house of the LORD all the days of our life.

(Is 38:14-20)


Greatness of the gifts that God granted to St. Paul

I must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven. And I know that this person (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter.
About this person I will boast, but about myself I will not boast, except about my weaknesses. Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave
me, but he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2Cor 12:1-10)


A new hymn I will sing to my God. O Lord, great are you and glorious, wonderful in power and unsurpassable. Let your every creature serve you; for you spoke, and they were made, You sent forth your spirit, and they were created; no one can resist your word. The mountains to their bases, and the seas, are shaken; the rocks, like wax, melt before your glance. But to those who fear you, you are very merciful. Though the sweet odor of every sacrifice is a trifle, and the fat of all holocausts but little in your sight, one who fears the Lord is forever great.
Woe to the nations that rise against my people! the Lord Almighty will requite them; in the day of judgment he will punish them: He will requite them; in the day of judgment he will punish them: He will send fire and worms into their flesh, and they shall burn and suffer forever.

(Jdt 16:13-17)5


1 For Don Alberione, asceticism and mysticism are the intrinsic sources of the apostolate inasmuch as they are expressions of authentic Christian and Pauline spirituality: “Our devotion and incorporation to Christ is the beginning and the end and the substance itself of our supernatural life: here lies asceticism and mysticism” (Carissimi in San Paolo, p. 1379; cf. Donec formetur Christus in vobis, no. 95).

2 She is the first mystic and stigmatized woman of the XX century, who, from the paschal mystery of Christ's death and resurrection, drew her unmistakable physiognomy as “victim” and “spouse of a crucified king.” Born near Lucca on 12 March 1878 and died there on 11 April 1903, she was canonized by Pius XII on 2 May 1940. At the publication of LS (1933), she was “blessed.”

3 The Bible is from God; one receives it as a mystical gift.

4* “Imagine any sentiment of perfection: it is found in the Gospel; let the desires of the purest soul go over personal passions, until the highest ideal of moral good; they will not go beyond the region of the Gospel.” (Alessandro Manzoni)
[Poor of exterior incidents, the life of Alessandro Manzoni (Milan 1785-1873) is all collected in an interior story of research, study and profound religiosity. Having grown in an environment of illuministic culture, he went back to the faith in 1810. A brotherly friend of Antonio Rosmini, he shared his spirituality and the same political-social vision. Author of the Promessi sposi (1821-1873) and of Osservazioni sulla Morale Cattolica, he thought of a cycle of “Sacred Hymns,” inspired after the principal festivities of the liturgical year.]

5 LS refers to the Vulgate and shows “Giud. XVI, 16-21,” (Jdt 16:16-21) which in the current translations correspond to 16:13-17.