Blessed James Alberione

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Undoubtedly, he is the inspired author of Ecclesiasticus2 as his nephew, who translated the book, assures us in the Prologue: In chapter 50, verse 27, we read: I, Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach, as they gushed forth from my heart's understanding.3
We know very little of him. Coming from Jerusalem, he dedicated his life to the study of wisdom and, in order to acquire it, he had undertaken long trips during which he ran many and serious risks, but he as well garnered a lot of fruits in his studies. He was known for his deep knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures, from where he drew true wisdom.
The manner with which the sacred author speaks of the High Priest Simon II, son of Oniah, says that he is his contemporary. We can therefore affirm that Ecclesiastics was written on the 2nd century before Christ, and hence translated into Greek soon after by the author's nephew.


During the early years of the Church, Ecclesiasticus had this title because it was the most used in the Churches; the Greek text, however, bears the title The Wisdom of Sirach. The author,
in fact, exhorts his readers towards wisdom, that is, to the exercise of all the virtues.
The book can be divided into two parts, aside from the preamble and the epilogue.
In the preamble, after the exhortation to seek wisdom, it describes the origin and fruits of wisdom and shows the intimate relationship between wisdom and the fear of God.
The first part is doctrinal and establishes in what consists true wisdom and the exercise of virtue.
The second part, instead, is historical. After a hymn to God, the Creator, the author celebrates the work of God in nature as he describes individual creatures, then in great and holy men from Enoch up to the High Priest Simeon.
The epilogue repeats the exhortation to seek wisdom and to praise God; it closes with a beautiful prayer.


From Holy Scripture flows the virtue of faith

I am prompt, I do not hesitate
in keeping your commands.

(Ps 118/119:60)

In the first part of the month4 we considered that the Bible is true light for our mind, and we briefly touched on the arcane beauty contained in it and how the Church draws from it the biggest part of sacred science; and how the Sacred Book sheds light on and confirms the natural sciences themselves.
In this second decade, we shall instead see how our will can find in the Sacred Scriptures marvelous examples of all the virtues; examples
that, aside from being way, are for us incentives and strength to win immortal goods which rust and moth shall not corrode or consume in eternity.
Then we shall see how the virtues spring from the Sacred Scriptures and how they teach and recommend all of them, through numerous sayings and examples.

* * *

Today, we shall see how the first of the theological virtues, Faith, springs from the Bible.
As we know from Catechism, Faith is to believe all the truths5 revealed by God and proposed to us for belief by the Church. The Center6 of all revelation, if we observe it well, is the adorable person of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament in fact speaks to us of the forthcoming Messiah; the New Testament, of the Messiah who came, in such a way that our mind, reading either Old or New Testament, is always focused on a single center: the Divine Master.
The example of the Transfiguration of Jesus, narrated to us by the Holy Gospels, is most beautiful:
After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, 'Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the
cloud came a voice that said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.' When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, 'Rise, and do not be afraid.' And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. (Mt 17:1-8)
Oh, divine spectacle! We contemplate the Divine Master transfigured in the middle;7 above him are Moses and Elijah, as representatives of the old law and of the prophets; under him, the three Apostles representing the N.T.; Peter, the symbol of faith; John, of charity, and James of one who translates into practice the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity.
It is true that the Old Testament tells us of the Messiah through figures, symbols, types and prophecies, but when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman (Gal 4:4) and with him all the prophecies and figures of the Old Testament were realized. Thus, the New began, the 27 books of which speak to us of the Messiah come on earth: of his birth, of his life, of his work of redemption, and of his death and glorious resurrection. Furthermore, they tell us of the coming of the Holy Spirit, of his work of sanctification. Finally, the Apocalypse tells us in detail of the last coming of Jesus Christ on earth. Hence at the center of the two Testaments is always Jesus Christ.

* * *

It follows that he who often reads the Sacred Scriptures with right intention acquires a very lively faith in Jesus Christ, and seeing how much he has done
for the redemption of humankind, will pray to him with secure and tranquil faith to have from him all the necessary means for salvation.
But the Bible not only presents us Jesus Christ as the central object of faith, but narrates to us examples of men who had great and admirable faith, thus enlivening and increasing our faith.
Let us just refer to the magnificent example of faith given us by Abraham who, having been commanded by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac, immediately, that very night, without waiting for daytime, departs with his son and goes to the mountain to perform the sacrifice.
God promised him that he would become the father of a numberless people, but how could such a thing happen, if now he commands the sacrifice of his only son? The patriarch does not reason out that way: he promptly executes God's command, certain that his word would not be vain. And so it was: Abraham became the father of a very numerous people, like the sand on the seashore.
How enlivened is our faith while reading such an example and many others like it!

* * *

The assiduous and devout reader of the Sacred Scriptures soon becomes divine in his thoughts, divine in his judgments and reasonings, and he acquires in a short time supernatural aspirations. In him, a new man, the just man, is created: Justus ex fide vivit. (Heb 10:38)8
How different are the men who read the Bible from those who do not read it!
Try it yourselves. Before reading, you feel that you are men, that is, human thoughts rule over your mind; desires and base feelings possess your heart, but after reading, you rise up no longer like men, but like gods: divine shall your thoughts be; divine, your aspirations; holy and supernatural, your desires.
St. Augustine's saying comes to mind: If you love the earth, you are earthly; if you love heavenly things, you are heavenly.

* * *

In reading the Bible, let us also seek Jesus and only Jesus, as Mary and Joseph sought him in Jerusalem and if we shall have found him, he will certainly enliven our faith, and it can be said of us what Elisabeth said of Mary Most Holy: Blessed are you who believed (Lk 1:45); because if our faith is alive, also in us, as in Mary Most Holy, the marvels of the Lord would be done.
Let us accustom the eyes of our faith to contemplate in the books of the Sacred Scriptures Jesus Christ truth, just as we contemplate under the veil of the candid Host, Jesus present in his body, blood, soul and divinity, so that we can contemplate Him then in heaven, no longer with the eyes of faith and as in an enigmatic mirror, but face to face as St. Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians.

EXAMPLE. - St. Felix, martyr of the Sacred Scriptures. - At the start of Diocletian's persecution, a good number of Christians, out of cowardice, surrendered the Scriptures to the infidels for burning, and many of them believed that they would be excused of their crime.
Felix, bishop of Tibara, in the proconsular province of Africa, did not allow himself to be dragged in the number of those guilty; rather, the fall of his brothers did nothing but further stimulate his vigilance and rekindle his courage.
Magnilianus, magistrate of the city of Tibara, after seizing him, vainly ordered him to surrender the Scriptures that belonged to his Church. He answered that he would rather let his body be burned than be guilty of such a crime.
Magnilianus led him to the proconsul of Carthage and this sent him to the prefect of the praetorium, which was then in Africa. Annoyed by the forthright freedom with which Felix confessed his Faith, he ordered that he be detained in a narrow prison and weighed down with heavy chains.
Nine days later, he ordered him to be loaded in a ship and sent to Italy, to appear before the emperor. The Saint, placed at the bottom of the ship, stayed four days without eating or drinking. Finally, the ship landed in Agrigento. The Christians of Sicily received Felix honorably in all the places through which he passed. When he was in Venosa, his chains were removed in order to force him, through torments, to declare whether he possessed the Scriptures. He said yes, but at the same time he declared that he would never surrender them.
Despairing of his inability to overcome his constancy, the prefect condemned him to be beheaded. Upon arriving in the place of execution, Felix gave thanks to God for the mercy granted him, and received joyfully the blow that ended his life in 303, at the age of fifty-six.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - Let us invite someone to acquire the Holy Bible and to read it daily.


Shout joyfully to God, all you on earth;
sing of his glorious name;
give him glorious praise.
Say to God: How awesome your deeds!
Before your great strength your enemies cringe.
All on earth fall in worship before you;
they sing of you, sing of your name!
Come and see the works of God,
awesome in the deeds done for us.
He changed the sea to dry land;
through the river they passed on foot.
Therefore let us rejoice in him,
who rules by might forever,
Whose eyes are fixed upon the nations.
Let no rebel rise to challenge!
Bless our God, you peoples;
loudly sound his praise,
Who has kept us alive and not allowed our feet to slip.
You tested us, O God, tried us as silver tried by fire.
You led us into a snare;
you bound us at the waist as captives.
You let captors set foot on our neck;
we went through fire and water;
then you led us out to freedom.
I will bring holocausts to your house;
to you I will fulfill my vows,
The vows my lips pronounced
and my mouth spoke in distress.
Holocausts of fatlings I will offer you
and burnt offerings of rams;
I will sacrifice oxen and goats.
Come and hear, all you who fear God,
while I recount what has been done for me.
I called to the Lord with my mouth;
praise was upon my tongue.
Had I cherished evil in my heart,
the Lord would not have heard.
But God did hear and listened to my voice in prayer.
Blessed be God,
who did not refuse me the kindness I sought in prayer.

(Ps 65/66:2-20)


Justification comes from faith and not from the works of the law

O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? Are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain? - if indeed it was in vain.
Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to you and works mighty deeds among you do so from works of the law or from faith in what you heard?
Thus Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Realize then that it is those who have faith who are children of Abraham. Scripture, which saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, foretold the good news to Abraham, saying, Through you shall all the nations be blessed. Consequently, those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham who had faith.
For all who depend on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law. And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for the one who is righteous by faith will live. But the law does not depend on faith; rather, the one who does these things will live by them. Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree, that the blessing of Abraham might be extended to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

(Gal 3:1-14)


O God, by your name, save me.
By your strength defend my cause.
O God, hear my prayer.
Listen to the words of my mouth.
The arrogant have risen against me;
the ruthless seek my life;
they do not keep God before them.
God is present as my helper;
the Lord sustains my life.
Turn back the evil upon my foes;
in your faithfulness, destroy them.
Then I will offer you generous sacrifice
and praise your gracious name, Lord,
because it has rescued me from every trouble,
and my eyes look down on my foes.

(Ps 53/54:3-9)


1 Between pages 114 and 115 of the original text was inserted a page with a side note of “Parte seconda” and a following blank page, not numbered.

2 Ecclesiasticus, or Sirach.

3 Sir 50:27. In the Vulgate the text corresponds to verse 29.

4 Let us remember that the hours of adoration effectively preached to the community were ten, but in LS 30 meditations are proposed. The new structure is approved by Don Alberione, as it appears in a circular letter addressed to the Daughters of St. Paul: “G.D.P.H. | Alba, 22 November 1933 | Good Daughters of St. Paul, | I have submitted to the Daughters of St. Paul for printing: six visits | to the Most Blessed Sacrament on death; and six visits on heaven. And the book of the visits on the readings | of the Bible has already been printed.” (Considerate la vostra vocazione, no. 34)

5 No. 6 of Dei Verbum, reads: “Through divine revelation, God chose to show forth and communicate Himself and the eternal decisions of His will regarding the salvation of men 'to share with them those divine treasures which totally transcend the understanding of the human mind.” The holy Council professes that “God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty from created reality by the light of human reason.” (see Rom 1:20) But it teaches also that it is through His revelation that “those religious truths which are by their nature accessible to human reason can be known by all men with ease, with solid certitude and with no trace of error, even in this present state of the human race.”

6 This term, in LS, is always rich in meaning. Examples: center of the Bible is Christ (p. 118); he who loves and reads the Bible does not remain on the sides, but reaches the center (p. 318). Let these affirmations be compared with what the Pastoral Note of the CEI (Italian Bishops' Conference) will later say: “Jesus is the center and the end of the Scriptures... Because of this, the Church, following the apostolic tradition, meets the Bible “through Christ, with Christ and in Christ” and in his light understands it as a single design of God for our salvation.” (La Bibbia nella vita della Chiesa, no. 2) The centrality of Christ is the hermeneutical principle of the Church in interpreting the Sacred Scriptures. It is necessary that we “read them in Christ” to understand them in their most profound meaning.

7 Christ the Master is always at the center, in every situation and representation, because he is such in the Scriptures.

8 “But my just one shall live by faith.”