Blessed James Alberione

Opera Omnia


Advanced search



The name of St. Matthew is read for the first time in the Gospel when Jesus invited him to a new life in the group of apostles: he was a tax-collector and he followed the Divine Master immediately leaving behind the tax-collector's booth. The publican named Levi of Alpheus of whom speaks another passage in the Gospels is identified with him.
It is not known from where he comes; but we know from the Gospel, that his conversion took place near Capharnaum. After his calling, nothing more is said of him, nor is he referred to in the Acts of the Apostles. According to tradition, however, it is said that he lived a very austere life, abstaining for always from meat. According to St. Clement of Alexandria, he preached the Gospel in Palestine for fifteen years. Then, although some insist that he preached the Gospel in India and others in Persia, according to the version accepted by the Roman Breviary, he preached the Gospel in Ethiopia and confirmed his preaching by many miracles. The miracle with which he raised from the dead the king's daughter for which the king, the queen and the whole region were converted remained famous. With the king's death, his successor Irtacus wanted to have as his bride Epigenia, the king's daughter. Not being able to have her because, upon advice of St. Matthew, she had made a vow of virginity and was persevering in her holy resolve,
Irtacus had the Saint killed while the latter was celebrating on the altar the mysteries. Thus on September 21 St. Matthew crowned his apostolic life with the palm of martyrdom. His body was brought to Salerno and then buried in the church dedicated to him, under the pontificate of Gregory VII, and until now he is venerated there with great piety by the faithful.


All the Fathers agree both in attributing to St. Matthew the first Gospel and in asserting that it was written for Palestinians, among the Jews and for the Jews. In fact, the abundance of prophecies taken from the Old Testament demonstrates to us that the Evangelist is speaking to Jewish readers. The descriptions, the narrations, and everything said regarding customs, are presented as to readers who already know them.
Aim of the first Gospel: St. Matthew wants to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament: in him the prophecies have become true, and the unbelief of the people and of its leaders, coming from their prejudices and the perversity of their heart had already been foreseen and foretold.
Hence, St. Matthew more broadly develops the prophetic argument in demonstrating the Messiahship and the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Thus, in order to bring to light the unbelieving character of the people, especially that of the leaders, he describes the indifference of the priests and of the teachers starting from the coming of the magi. Jesus Christ foretells for the apostles the persecutions of the Synagogue and predicts the reproof of the people and of their leaders for their incredulity.
From the nature and end of the Gospel we can understand its order and composition. More than a historical work, St. Matthew wanted to make a theological work, caring little for chronological order. Hence he takes no trouble to describe particular events, but he tries instead to propose the doctrine in the events2 and miracles. Jesus is the promised Messiah, hence his teachings must be accepted.
The time of the composition of the first Gospel can be placed between 42 and 48 A.D. The Greek translation was made perhaps by St. Matthew himself.

For the Press Apostolate the Bible is the way3

Your word is a lamp for my feet a light for my path.
(Ps 118/119:105)

We have considered on day IX4 that the doctrine and the goal of the Press Apostolate is the same as that of the Bible. Today, we shall see that both the Bible and the Press Apostolate are 1. Universal, that is, for all men; 2. have the same form, that is, maximum simplicity and clarity; and 3. employ the same process: impression and press.
The true apostolate of the press must model itself after God the Writer, or on the Bible: a theme full of comfort, an object of love, a light that brightens, a motive of penitence.
The Apostolate of the Press should have: a) a character of universality, b) marked simplicity and clarity, c) convenience of impression.

* * *

1. UNIVERSALITY. God wants all men to be saved. This is a matter of faith, Deus vult omnes homines salvos fieri. (1Tm 2:4)5 And in this his efficacious will, the Lord has addressed to all his children his letter of invitation to heaven.
From the Sacred Heart of Jesus came out a very sweet tone of voice: Come to me all of you... (Mt 11:28)
The Bible is universal as to places, inasmuch as it has to reach everywhere, as to people, inasmuch as God wants that all men know their destination, as to content, inasmuch as its theme is spiritual and eternal.
Hence it is proper that the Press Apostolate, the continuation of the Bible, should be endowed with its universality.
Every man must be enlightened by God true Light. Let the Apostle of the Press then light his lamp and place it in an elevated place: You are the light of the world. (Mt 5:14)

* * *

2. SIMPLICITY. It is the quality that has to be found in the popular religious press. In fact, it is addressed to the mass of men: farmers, workers, the poor.
The Divine Master preached with all simplicity. No external apparatus of professorial chairs, schools, or attitude; no external form of lofty language. Everything was simplicity: the place, the audience, the tone of voice, the phrase, the example, the parable. And he proclaimed: I have been sent to the poor. Simplicity is truth, simplicity is the mark of divinity.
Hence the writings of the Apostle of the press shall be popular and polished in style, plain and clear in form and modest in offering.6
The Eucharist is under the appearances of the most ordinary, but most necessary, food. It is presented under the form of a meal, and yet it contains Jesus Christ, the God-Man.
Similarly the Press-Apostolate is under the form of what is being sought, to read! given in the manner of a modest book, and yet it contains the divine Truth Ego sum Veritas. (Jn 14:6)7

* * *

3. CONVENIENCE OF PRINT have both the Bible and the Press Apostolate. Since Moses and the Apostles wrote after preaching; in the same manner acts whoever dedicates himself to this Apostolate. They have the same means, print, by which the word is fixed to be read, to be meditated upon, to become life of works, of merit, and of eternal glory.

* * *

It follows: that, if this Apostolate is sacrifice, it is however, a sacrifice to which God invites us. That it is wise to take from the Scriptures the style, the form, and the manner of diffusion.
Furthermore: the Apostolate of the Press should be considered as bread; hence it should reach all and nourish all. A very special diffusion has to be made for the Bible that ought to be in the hands of all men, at least the part of the New Testament.
Hence, take God as model in all of the Apostolate.
Who shall win in the struggle for good? Those generous souls who shall know how to make themselves victims, who shall weave their Apostolate with hidden and powerful sacrifices close to the heart of Jesus, the Divine Master.
EXAMPLE. - St. Bernard. - This Saint is very well known to us for his great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and for his erudition in sacred and biblical science. He was born in Fontaines, France, in 1090. At the age of twenty, he joined the Cistercian Order of which, for the many reforms he made and the numerous monasteries he founded, he is said to be the Co-founder. From the many writings he left us, we notice how great was his veneration for the Bible, and how well he knew it. It was a knowledge and veneration acquired through constant and loving study, which he, in turn, sought to impart to his friars. His writings are all marvelously connected and interwoven with biblical phrases, and many of his biographers do not hesitate to assert that St. Bernard's style is biblical.
His principal works are Discourses on some passages of the Holy Gospel. Very beautiful is that one on the Missus est. Then renowned is his commentary on the Song of Songs, about which he has 84 sermons. His biographers narrate how more than once the Most Holy Virgin appeared to him and suggested to him the topic he had to write or preach, and taught him the most beautiful passages of Holy Scripture, well-suited to prove and illustrate the argument being discussed.
Many painters like to represent the holy doctor and Father of the Church in dialogue with the Most Holy Virgin, who holds the Divine Infant in her arms and in the act of offering him the Holy Book of the Bible.
He died in an ecstacy of love in the year 1153, amidst the grief of his very numerous religious. With St. Bernard ends the glorious rank of the Fathers of the Church. The Church celebrates his feast on August 20.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - Recite three Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory be to Jesus Master for the Press Apostolate.


Rejoice, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.
Sing to God a new song;
skillfully play with joyful chant.
For the LORD'S word is true;
all his works are trustworthy.
The LORD loves justice and right
and fills the earth with goodness.
By the LORD'S word the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
The waters of the sea were gathered as in a bowl;
in cellars the deep was confined.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all who dwell in the world show reverence.
For he spoke, and it came to be,
commanded, and it stood in place.
The LORD foils the plan of nations,
frustrates the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever,
wise designs through all generations.

(Ps 32/33:1-11)


Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the
world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.

(Jn 17:1-17)


How the apostles are to behave during persecutions

Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household! Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 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 10:16-28)


1 In LS there is life (vita), but the right word is way (via): all the second part, in fact, is dedicated to “Way,” while the third to “Life” (Cf. Reflection XXIX that bears the title “For the Press Apostolate the Bible is Life”).

2 Here Don Alberione enunciates a principle to which he himself has been faithful: the primacy of deeds over words. Blessed Giaccardo wrote in his diary, citing the thought of Blessed Don Alberione: “During the exhortation to pray this morning: 'You are small and hidden, but if you have sorrow for sins, humility, remaining in your place; if you humble yourself as if you're nothing and sinful, trusting in God and praying, you will send a sound that the whole world will hear through the good press... Be doers, not undoers: deeds, through doing your duties and with diligence.” (30 September 1918)

3 See note 1, p. 189.

4 In the original this number is written as XIX, which is an error: day XIX and hence reflection XIX are precisely these. The exact number is IX, see p. 95. On p. 97ff reflection IX has the title, “The Bible for the Apostle of the Press is the Truth.”

5 “God wants all men to be saved.” - In the original text, there is “1 Tim. XI, 4,” (1Tm 11:4) but the citation is evidently mistaken.

6 Not “cover price” but a “modest offering.” In the language of Don Alberione, the terms used by an apostle should never be commercial. During the same years of the composition of LX, he used to rhetorically ask a group of Daughters of St. Paul: “How shall we give God's Word?” And he used to answer: “Spread it in sheets of paper, in small catechisms, with the principal truths necessary for salvation, to pass on to all, even without any offering.” (August 1932, HM II,4, pp. 169-170) In January 1954, he will clarify to the Paulines: “Our apostolate has a part that seems to resemble industry (e.g., the printing press) and has a part that resembles commerce (bookstore); instead, it is entirely a means for preaching, like a pen in the hands of a Doctor of the Church. We should be careful, even externally, of stamping on it the common marks of businessmen and industrialists.” (Carissimi in San Paolo, p. 1089ff) Even more explicitly, and with a humorous note, in a sermon of 1957: “We do not have to say that Mi protendo in avanti (I strain forward) means to strain forward also in our prices. We strain towards the least possible, and that is the least price or the least offering that is possible, so that the apostolate can continue, the Congregation may live and can accomplish the works it has to accomplish for the sake of souls.” (Pr D, p. 522; italics ours) A final text on this theme is of 1960 and it concerns the role of Pauline bookstores: “Not business establishments, but service to the faithful. Not sales, but apostolate with offerings. They do not have clients, but cooperators. Not business, but centers of light and warmth in Jesus Christ. They don't aim to get rich, but to serve the Church and souls. Not for exploitation, but to benefit souls. The faithful and the clergy should find therein collaboration, light, direction for their ministry; not prices, but offerings.” (UPS IV, p. 162)

7 “I am the Truth.”