Blessed James Alberione

Opera Omnia


Advanced search



Ezekiel, of priestly lineage, was brought to Babylon with Jeremiah during the second deportation (601-599 B. C.), and with his wife who died in Tel-Abib, on the Chebar (perhaps the great canal that united the Tigris with the Euphrates) where he stayed with a colony of exiles. After five years of exile, perhaps at the age of thirty, he began his prophetic ministry, and for at least twenty-years, he was the moral guide of his people, whose elders used to meet in his house because Ezekiel, as a priest, as a prophet, and more than anything else for his great spirit, had great authority among them. He died in exile and seems to have been killed by a prince of Judah he scolded for idolatry.
Ezekiel lived during the sad days of the chosen people. In a foreign land, a prophet of divine fidelity amidst threats and promises, with marvelous greatness of spirit and firm character, and with efficacious eloquence, he proclaims the fulfillment of the divine threats and prophesies the fulfillment of the divine promises when the exile ends, Israel returns to the motherland and is restored in the messianic kingdom.

The prophecies of Ezekiel seem to have been put together by himself in the order in which we have them; because of this, the book has a logical as well as a chronological order.
The central focus of his book is the fall of Jerusalem: before the fall of the holy city, his prophecies aimed at exciting the Jews to sorrow, and to trust in God and not in Egypt and in other peoples, and they insist on the triumph of the Babylonians and the fall of the kingdom of Judah. After the fall of Jerusalem,1 his prophecies aimed at consoling the exiles by the promises of liberation, the return to the motherland and the messianic kingdom, which is described with marvelous symbols.
The book of Ezekiel is obscure, especially due to the crowding of symbols and visions, of usages and customs unknown to us; the language shows the effects of the exile; the style, for some, is not elegant but for everyone it is strong and effective and full of audacity. The vagueness, however, becomes clarity before the reality of the messianic kingdom symbolized by him.


The Bible and the practice of the Gospel beatitudes

Your decrees are my delight,
they are my counselors.

(Ps 118/119:24)

The Divine Master, having gone up the mountain and having sat down, started to teach the crowd saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5:3-12)
These are the gifts that we expect from Jesus on the day of judgment; they are divine gifts that have their root and dependence on the theological virtues. This is why we speak of them here, immediately after the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity.
The Gospel beatitudes contain in themselves a twofold promise: a promise of beatitude on earth and a promise of beatitude in Heaven. The soul, in view of such promises, courageously casts herself into the path of perfection, very sure to find in them both peace and tranquility.
It is true, the Beatitudes do not occupy more than a half page in the Gospel of St. Matthew, but then the whole Bible can be considered as their commentary, a continuous recommendation of the Beatitudes promulgated by Jesus in the famous discourse on the mountain.
In how many places in Holy Scripture do we find, for example, that the poor are blessed even here on earth! Beautiful and edifying is the example of Ruth who, not having anything to live on, goes to glean in the field of a rich lord called Boaz who, seeing the young girl's virtue, wanted her as his bride, and from that day on Ruth lived happily even here on earth.
Another example of awarded poverty is that of the prophet Elisha to whom God miraculously provided food by sending a raven that brought him the needed bread. And thus we could continue to put forth many other examples from the Bible to prove that the poor are blessed, while cursed are the rich, that is, those who have their heart attached to wealth. The same could be said of the other beatitudes.
How many facts, sayings, and examples do we find in the Bible that praise and comment: Blessed are the pure of heart. What does the beautiful figure of the innocent and pure Joseph, the Hebrew, tell us? That of the chaste Susanna? With facts, they repeat to us the words of Jesus: Blessed are the pure of heart.
The event of the deluge, of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah repeat to us instead that the adulterous will be tremendously punished and cursed by God.
Of each of the other beatitudes, both the Old or the New Testament have praises, recommendations and commenting events.

* * *

He who assiduously reads the Bible is brought to live in the divine and heavenly atmosphere of the Blessed. He becomes so inflamed by the holy examples narrated in it, and by the
holy sayings that he conceives of heroic plans and, on the way of perfection, he not only runs, but flies. Thus, in fact, it happened to the Most Holy Virgin: she became inflamed in the reading of the holy Books and advanced in sanctity with giant steps.
The beatitudes are like a compendium and practice of the life of Christian perfection; the virtues, in fact, of poverty, meekness, patience, and purity recommended by Jesus in the beatitudes constitute the highest and most sublime asceticism of perfection.

* * *

From here it follows that Holy Scripture is not for one class of persons only, but for all, inasmuch as all are bound to tend to perfection. The Divine Master addresses to all the command to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect: Estote ergo perfecti sicut et Pater vester coelestis perfectus est. (Mt 5:48)2
Of the 72 books making up Holy Scripture some are more suitable for a class of persons and others for others. For example, how many practical teachings can parents and children have in the very inspiring books of Ruth, Tobit, and Job!
For one engaged in the service of God, how much good can he draw from the reading of Leviticus and Numbers!
For every class of persons the loving heavenly Father has written a letter. Everyone can find in the Bible what is suited for him. Everyone can find in it light, comfort, and strength.
During the first centuries of the Church and throughout Medieval times, the books of the Sacred Scriptures, especially those of the New Testament, were in
all Christian families and every believer made of them his daily food. Eventually, with the coming of the danger of Protestantism and rationalism, such a practice gradually faded away. But at last came the man of Providence, Leo XIII who, in 1898, gave great development to the Groups of the Gospel, and so the very laudable practice of having and reading the Holy Gospel in families became more and more widespread and today we can say that each Christian family possesses the sacred book.
Msgr. Besson,3 Archbishop of Geneva, in his book The Catholic Church and the Bible says that the reading of the Bible is not absolutely commanded, it is true, but it is however the preferred food of fervent souls and for anyone who desires to progress in the way of sanctity.

* * *

Let us now pray to blessed Jesus so that he may incline our hearts to love the Beatitudes and give us the grace and strength to practice them as they did whose example he wanted to be recorded in the Bible, for our edification and comfort, and in order that like them we can become blessed already here on earth, be so thereafter in heaven.

EXAMPLE. - The Saints in Holy Scripture. - All the Saints are a living and perennial commentary to the Sacred Scriptures; all of them, by their blameless and industrious lives and by their varied activities have commented on one or more passages of God's letter to mankind: even more, some have made of a single verse the purpose of all their lives: others, after reading very few words of the holy book, have had the thrust and the strength to free themselves from sin, give themselves to God, and reach the highest peaks of perfection.
St. Augustine commented with his life that passage from the letter to the Romans: Let us conduct ourselves properly
as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. (Rom 13:13-14)
These words fell before his eyes when he casually opened the Bible; they were the words that decided his conversion and holiness of life. He was already more than 30 years of a life spent as a pagan could spend it: but there were no more obstacles in front of him. He was converted, was baptized, and became a priest, then bishop of Hippo. For his numerous and very profound writings, he is rightly called the eagle of Theologians.
St. Anthony Abbot
is another great pearl of Holy Scripture. The words of the Gospel, If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me (Mt 19:21) he heard in Church struck him. The young man decides to leave everything. He went, sold everything and gave to the poor: then after retiring in the desert, he undertook very severe penances and became famous for his miracles. He is the great Patriarch of the Cenobites.
Blessed Don Bosco,
4 like St. Francis de Sales, had for his motto the words that the Sacred Scriptures place on the lips of Abraham: Da mihi animas, cætera tolle: Give me the people; the goods you may keep (Gn 14:21). This was the aim of all his life; this was also the aim of all his work.
St. Jerome Emiliani put into practice the saying of the prophet Isaiah: Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. (Is 58:7) His life was entirely lived in charity towards the poor, especially the orphans, for whom he established everywhere orphanages, hospices, shelters, and founded the Somascan Congregation. Jerome is rightly called the Father of Orphans.
These are some examples. All the Saints, however, by their
lives commented on some passage of the Sacred Scriptures. And what do we say about all the millions of glorious Martyrs? They have commented, with their blood, what Jesus said: And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. (Mt 10:28)
The endless array of Virgins, are they not perhaps the most beautiful commentary of the Beatitudes: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God? (Mt 5:8)
The words of Holy Scripture are all of God, and all are confirmed by the Saints who are the true children of God and his beloved friends.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - Let us select a saying of Sacred Scripture and model upon it our thoughts and actions.


Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you

(Mt 5:3-12)


The good and the bad on final judgment

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

(Mt 25:31-46)


Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you. As when brushwood is set ablaze, or fire makes the water boil! Thus your name would be made known to your enemies and the nations would tremble before you. While you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old. No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him. Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways! Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean men, all our good deeds are like polluted rags; We have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind. There is none who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you; For you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands. Be not so very angry, LORD, keep not our guilt forever in mind; look upon us, who are all your people. Your holy cities have become a desert, Zion is a desert, Jerusalem a waste. Our holy and glorious temple in which our fathers praised you, Has been burned with fire; all that was dear to us is laid waste. Can you hold back, O LORD, after all this? Can you remain silent, and afflict us so severely?

(Is 63:19-64:11)


1 Jerusalem surrenders to Nebukadnezzar II, king of Babylon, in March of 597 B.C., the year during which the forced exile of many influential citizens began. Other deportations follow after the final destruction of the city in the years 587-586. It is not known how many in all were deported to Babylon even if Jer 52:30 talks about “four thousand six hundred.” The date of Ezekiel's deportation is not known. For Don Alberione it would have happened between the years 601-599 (cf. p. 141), but it is a dubious conjecture, with him believing that the ministry of Ezekiel began “after five years of exile.” One cannot understand however how the prophet, from Babylon, could have excited the Jews to repentance before the fall of Jerusalem (cf. p. 142).

2 “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

3 Mons. Marius Besson (Turin 1876 - Freiburg 1945), bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Freiburg in Switzerland, was a zealous pastor, of vast and solid theological and historical culture. He exercised a notable influence in international circles, next to the Society of Nations that had its seat in Geneva. He was the animator of charitable and cultural organizations, of Catholic Action and of the Good Press. Among the Protestants, he was known for his conciliatory spirit. Among his writings, Don Alberione quotes, in the Italian version, L'Église et la Bible, published in Freiburg in 1927.

4 Don Giovanni Bosco (Castelnuovo d'Asti 1815 - Turin 1888), beatified by Pius XI on 2 June 1929, would be canonized by him on 1 April 1934. The “purpose” of his life, in LS, described by Abraham's words (Gn 14:21), was in reality the education of young boys through the known “preventive system,” aiming at forestalling evil instead of correcting it. Such a system, illustrated by the author in an outline of nine pages, was known also by Don Alberione (cf. G. BARBERO, Relazioni ed analogie tra Don Giacomo Alberione e San Giovanni Bosco, e tra la Famiglia Paolina e la Famiglia Salesiana, Unpublished monograph, Rome 1988).