Blessed James Alberione

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Daniel, made prisoner together with other noble young men during the first expedition of Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem, was brought to the Babylonian palace where he was raised and educated; and, in spite of the great dangers, he remained faithful to the Mosaic law along with his companions. God rewarded Daniel by conferring on him a wonderful wisdom and the spirit of prophecy.
He became great in court and Nebuchadnezzar gave him the job of governor of the province of Babylon. After Nebuchadnezzar's death, he probably withdrew from the court and did not go back there until he was called to interpret the three famous words that a hand traced on the wall during the royal banquet given by Belshazzar.
With the eventual fall of Babylon, Daniel was honored even by the conquerors: he was in fact esteemed by Darius the Mede and by Cyrus. He was not spared the snares of the courtesans and was thrown into the lions' den from where the Lord miraculously freed him. We do not have other information regarding his life.


Daniel had the mission of defending his people in the court and of preparing the pagans for redemption.
He marvelously accomplishes this twofold mission by making the God of Israel known by the monarchs and by making his people respected. He accomplishes this by showing the foolishness of idolatry and the sovereign power of the true God, and especially by his precise and marvelous prophecies about the kingdoms of the earth and the messianic kingdom wherein he exhibits, like a painting, future history.
The book of Daniel has been attacked in every century by rationalism for the great miracles it narrates and for the marvelous precision of his prophecies which, for the rationalists, cannot be made prior to the events, but were written during the time of the Maccabees. Already in his time, St. Jerome responded by saying that the accusation of the impious is the solemn testimony of the truth because he confesses that the prophecies did take place. That the prophecies were written under the Babylonian and Persian empires the book itself affirms by its Chaldean language; a book like that of Daniel could not but be written after the Persian Empire and Joseph the Hebrew narrates that the book of Daniel was shown to Alexander the Great when, in 332, he went to Jerusalem, and that because of the prophecies that concerned him he was disposed to respect the Jewish religion.
Daniel remains as the great light of history and he who announces with precision the time of the Messiah.


The Bible and the Religious State

May my ways be firm
in the observance of your laws.

(Ps 118/119:5)

What is the Religious State?
The Religious State is a stable way of life different from the lay and priestly state; in it the soul, aside from the observance of the Commandments,
embraces and promises, with vows, to observe also the evangelical counsels.
It is a more perfect state of life, chosen by those souls who aspire to a higher degree of perfection and, already observing the Commandments prescribed for all Christians, decide to observe also the evangelical counsels.
The Evangelical Counsels can be reduced into three: Obedience, Poverty, Chastity. These, if observed well, are enough and are adequate to lead the soul to the most sublime heights of holiness. The history of the Church proves it to us with countless examples of religious men and women who, through their observance, made themselves saints.
In what manner do we know the excellence of this state? From where do we know that the true founder was Jesus Christ himself?
From the Sacred Scriptures. It is there that we know that if a soul desires greater perfection, he must, aside from the observance of the Commandments, embrace also the Counsels.
The Religious State is completely a revelation and we would not know anything of its institution and of its advantages if we did not have the sacred books.
In the Gospel of St. Matthew we read of the very wonderful episode of the young man who comes to Jesus and asks him: Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life? And Jesus replies: Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments. Which ones? he asked. Jesus replied: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The young man said to him: All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?
Jesus said to him: 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 19:16-21)
How many young men and women heard the voice of the Divine Master's voice and, leaving behind everything, followed him by embracing a more perfect life!
The eight beatitudes are a magnificent proclamation of the Religious State! We know from the Gospel that the true Founder of the religious state was Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the first religious; he is the perfect model of a poor, obedient and pure life.
All the evangelists are in agreement in describing the humble poverty of the Messiah, and St. Matthew says of him: Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head. (Mt 8:20)
As to his obedience to Mary and Joseph, we read: He... was obedient to them. (Lk 2:51)1
As for the angelic virtue, the Evangelists tell us that Jesus did not even allow that he be accused about it.2
After the first and most perfect religious, Jesus, immediately follow the Blessed Mother, Mary Most Holy, St. Joseph, the Baptist; then follow the Apostles, the Disciples, and all the Pious Women who accompanied the Divine Master. And today, the religious houses, the Congregations who have as primary goal the sanctification of their members, are most numerous.
The 27 books of the New Testament are a wonderful apology of the Religious State. The Gospels and especially the letters of the Apostles are a warm invitation to ascend the path of perfection and how many, upon reading them, fling themselves for the conquest of the incorruptible crown! Blessed is he who understands this call and follows it!
It is the youthful souls who are more disposed to listen to the voice of Jesus who speaks to their hearts through the Holy Gospel. It is for this that the Divine Master thanks the Father: I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. (Mt 11:25)
The same thing was confirmed by the Most Holy Virgin when she exclaimed: The rich he has sent away empty. (Lk 1:53)
What powerful stimuli to perfection for the soul are certain verses of the Gospel! We recall only: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have... then come and follow me. (Mt 19:21) So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt 5:48), and many other similar exhortations that separate the soul from sin and place it at the following of Jesus.
The great founders of monasticism: St. Anthony Abbot, St. Basil, St. Benedict were so convinced of it that to their monks they did not advise any other book except Holy Scripture. We know from Church History that those monks, not having the means to commune
every day with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, communed many times a day with Jesus-Truth and the encouragement and the strength they received from such reading were such that they became the terror of demons, the sworn enemies of the world and of souls.

* * *

Anyone who on this earth often converses with the Divine Master and with the Heavenly Father by reading his letter, will deserve in heaven to be still near Him.

EXAMPLE. - St. Anthony Abbot.3 - He was born in 259, in Herakleia of Egypt. He was schooled since he was young in secludedness, so that Anthony, growing through the years, did not bother about educating himself in secular sciences for fear that they would offer him occasions of evil; but he confined all his study to Holy Scripture, and all his pleasure was to read them and meditate on them while keeping diligently in his heart that fruit that he drew from such a praiseworthy and holy occupation.
At age twenty, he lost his parents and he had to take care of the administration of his goods. Temporal concerns were not made for him. One day, going to Church, he thought of the example of the Apostles, who left everything in order to follow Jesus, and of the first Christians who sold their properties to give the sale to the Apostles. By divine disposition, while he was entering the Church, the Deacon was singing those words addressed by Jesus to the rich young man: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.4 Anthony considered that invitation as addressed to him. He sold everything and kept only what was necessary for him and his sister.
A little later, hearing the exhortation of Jesus: Do not worry about tomorrow,5 he no longer doubted the divine call. He brought his sister to the monastery, retired in a small cell, and later withdrew to the desert there to lead
a penitent life. The fame of his holiness attracted to him many disciples.
He grouped them in monasteries and gave them their rule of life: the singing of the Psalms, the daily reading and meditation of the Sacred Scriptures, fasting, prayer, and manual work had to be their only occupations.
In his last recommendations to his monks, St. Anthony insisted on the reading of the Holy Bible and on living the teachings contained in it.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - Today I shall read the Bible with greater recollection, while formulating a resolution for the day.


Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant coasts,
and say: He who scattered Israel,
now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD'S blessings:
The grain, the wine, and the oil, the sheep and the oxen;
They themselves shall be like watered gardens,
never again shall they languish.
Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.

(Jer 31:10-14)


The religious have to strip off the old man and put on the new

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming (upon the disobedient).
By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way. But now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

(Col 3:5-17)


Longing of the religious soul

Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge
I say to the Lord, you are my Lord,
you are my only good.
Worthless are all the false gods of the land.
Accursed are all who delight in them.
They multiply their sorrows who court other gods.
Blood libations to them I will not pour out,
nor will I take their names upon my lips.
LORD, my allotted portion and my cup,
you have made my destiny secure.
Pleasant places were measured out for me;
fair to me indeed is my inheritance.
I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even at night my heart exhorts me.
I keep the LORD always before me;
with the Lord at my right, I shall never be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure,
For you will not abandon me to Sheol,
nor let your faithful servant see the pit.
You will show me the path to life,
abounding joy in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.

(Ps 15/16:1-11)


1 On Jesus' obedience to the Father, before obedience to men, see as well: Lk 2:48; Mt 12:48; Mt 19:29; Mk 11:27-33.

2 Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of other things: for example, of being “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” (Mt 11:19) Abusing of the Scripture, one can always find a passage to justify one's own convictions while ignoring other passages that would help to interpret a particular text. A rule of exegesis by now consolidated is to read the Bible with the Bible, and every passage in its context and in the frame of the whole Bible. In it, there is not only one “theology” or one “spirituality.”

3 This saint is referred to most often as an example of the person inspired by the Bible (see pp. 147, 155, 156f, 244, 290, 311). The Italian spelling of the title “abate” or “abbate” is not uniform.

4 Cf. Mt 19:21.

5 Cf. Mt 6:34.