Blessed James Alberione

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Hosea, son of Beeri, prophesied during the reign of the kings of Judah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, but he exercised his prophetic ministry in the northern kingdom a little after Amos. He saw the triumph of Israel under Jeroboam II, but he also saw its anarchy and ruin in his long life. He prophesied the destruction of Israel and saw his prophecies come true. Amidst the frightful corruption described by him, he raises his voice to tell the people that the punishment is just and it must be accepted, and that after their conversion there will be salvation; he shows God's justice in punishing obstinate sinners, his mercy in welcoming the repentant. His book is a composition done in a hurry at the end of his life as a prophet, in order to sum up the prophecies made during his prophetic ministry.


Joel, son of Pethuel, is with Obadiah, one of the most ancient prophets whose writings remain for us. He was of the kingdom of Judah and there he exercised his prophetic ministry. His writings place him in the golden age of Jewish literature, and perhaps in the first years of Uzziah. Joel is a
great prophet, clear, elegant, and sublime. He was imitated by the other prophets surpassed by him in sublimity, except Isaiah and Habakkuk.1 The description of the locusts is a true masterpiece.


Amos was a shepherd and he cultivated sycamore trees in Tekoa when God called him to the prophetic ministry and sent him to the schismatic and idolatrous kingdom of the north which, at that time, during the last years of Jeroboam II, was at the height of its power, prosperity, and also of corruption. The place of Amos' preaching was Bethel, one of the sanctuaries of idolatrous Israel. His preaching has as object Israel, but he does not forget Judah which, under Uzziah, had conquered many enemies, and after mentioning the present prosperity of the two kingdoms, threatens punishments and the destruction of Israel. At the end he encourages by proferring hopes.


Obadiah, who, in the Vulgate, occupies the fourth place among the minor prophets, according to some is the most ancient of the prophets who has left writings behind. The name Obadiah means servant of the Lord, and we can argue that he belonged to the kingdom of Judah due to his angry address against Idumea, most bitter enemy of Judah. Obadiah's prophecy, made of a single chapter of 21 verses, is the shortest writing in the Old Testament. With a single prophecy it announces God's judgment against Edom, considered the figure of God's enemies. He announces that Edom will be completely destroyed, since it is the enemy of Israel, who will be exalted.


Jonah, the fifth of the minor prophets according to the order of the Vulgate, was from Gat of Zebulon, and hence of the kingdom of
Israel. The book of Jonah does not have oracles, but narrates an event full of oracles. Jonah, an ardent patriot, hated the Gentiles whom he saw as dangerous to his people. Then, from God came to him the order to preach to Nineveh. That meant the conversion of Nineveh, the life of Assyria, who was headed to destroy Israel. The ardent patriot disobeys, flees to Joppa, and boards a Phoenician ship. A furious tempest obliges him to confess his crime. Thrown into the sea, swallowed by a big fish and cast to the shore after three days, he sings the power of God and goes to preach in Nineveh. Nineveh is converted, God withdraws the decree of destruction, and responds to the lamentations of Jonah by sending a worm to dry the resin tree that shaded him


Micah, of Moresheth, near Gat of Judah, prophesied under Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, and hence he was a contemporary of Isaiah, whom he resembles for the nature and arguments he touches on. Micah at times threatens, but more than anything else he consoles, and he does it employing a lofty style, rich in images as well as in wordplays. He has great prophecies: the Assyrian invasion, the destruction of Samaria and Jerusalem, the slavery of Babylon, the return, the messianic kingdom, and the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.


The Bible and the Priesthood

Your hands made me and fashioned me:
give me insight to learn your commands.

(Ps 118/119:73)

As we have reflected yesterday, from the Bible flows the Religious State; today, instead,
we shall see how the Ecclesiastical State flows from it: that is, how the Bible tells every Priest what are his tasks and duties, what are his virtues and what will be his reward in the afterlife.
Who is the Priest?
The Priest is an exceptional man, ex hominibus assumptus, chosen by God in the midst of a people one thousand, two thousand, or five thousand, and constituted as minister of God, dispenser of his treasures: Ministros Christi, et dispensatores mysteriorum Dei.
The Divine Master casts his loving glance on that young man and with intimate and secret fascinations draws him to himself, that is, segregates him from his companions and with a thousand stratagems detaches him from his family and leads him to a sacred place, the Seminary, or the religious house, where the young man receives instruction and the necessary formation.
During this most delicate time of formation, Jesus continues to speak to his heart, causing the rose of charity, the lily of purity, and the marguerite of obedience to sprout in it and, in a word, all the virtues needed in a Priest. Through his superiors and Teachers, he forms and enlightens his mind and with interior and continuous graces strengthens him and gives him an iron will. When his training is considered adequate, the Bishop then intervenes. In the name of God he invites him to step forward and consecrates him minister of God, giving him the power to celebrate the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to preach and to administer the Most Holy Sacraments.
This is who the Priest is: a privileged person, one chosen among many a dispenser of heavenly goods, the gatekeeper of the Holy Tabernacle. In
his hands are placed the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whoever wants to be saved must take from his hands a mystical pass, that of Baptism; otherwise, he could not enter Heaven.
The Priest is the Secretary of Jesus Christ, another Jesus Christ: Sacerdos alter Christus, and hence he is called to exercise the same powers as the Divine Master, of whom he must be a faithful copy.
He is ex hominibus assumptus, et pro hominibus constituitur: taken from among men and made their representative before God (Heb 5:1); then he will hear confessions, thus freeing souls from their sins and raising them to perfection.
Pro hominibus constituitur: observe him in the morning: he goes to the altar with slow and solemn steps, with his head bowed and totally absorbed since he knows he is going to Calvary where he will offer for the people the divine victim. There he satisfies, thanks, and supplicates the Omnipotent God for himself and for his people!
In virtue of that Mass the holy souls in Purgatory will be freed and relieved: the Blessed in Heaven will have glory and honor.
Oh, what a sublime man is the Priest!
Go to look for it in the Bible: there you will find him in his divine figure; there you will know what are his roles, what are his duties and what are his rewards.
To understand, however, what the Priest is in the New Law it is necessary to know what the Priest is in the Old Law, this last being the figure, the type of the true Priest.
Thus we have Leviticus and Numbers, which
almost exclusively talk to us about the sublime office of the Levites.
Here we find what must be the life of a Priest, what his virtues are, his duties, the authority that envelops him and the respect that everyone must render him.
In Leviticus, for example, in chapter 10, we read that the Levites, that is, Aaron and all his sons, had to abstain from any inebriating drink, to be able to discern always the holy from the profane; they had to be healthy and not have any physical defect: No man... who has some defect shall come forward to offer up food to his God: neither one with disfigurement or malformation, with a crippled foot or hand... (Lv 21:17ff)
Even the victims that the Priests had to offer had to be without any physical defect. We also know (always from the Old Testament) that it was absolutely forbidden to offer victims and burn incense to the Lord for anyone who was not constituted minister, and whoever did so was immediately burned alive. Terrifying is the episode of Korah and his 250 followers who, wanting to usurp the office of the Priests, lit the thuribles and offered incense. It was then that immediately a mysterious fire came down from heaven and burned them alive. (cf. Nm 16)
The murmurers against the Priests were also immediately punished with death as the book of Numbers, 16, narrates. Four teen thousand and seven hundred were burned for having murmured against Moses and Aaron. Very severe punishments as that of the Bible was inflicted2 upon Mary, Moses' sister, who murmured against her brother.
It is, however, in the Holy Gospel that we have the type, the perfect model of the Priest: Jesus Christ; and it is from there that we know what must be the life, the zeal, and the rewards of God's ministers. And we could say that one who has not read the Holy Gospel, has not understood who the Priest is.

* * *

What relationship is there between the Bible and Priesthood?
It is a very close relationship inasmuch as it is in the Bible that the Priest knows that his ministry is divine; it is from there that he knows his duties and obligations; and it is from there that, knowing the rewards reserved for him, he draws strength and courage in the exercise of his ministry.
It is the Holy Gospel that makes us know the solicitous care of the Divine Master in forming the Apostles and how they received from Jesus himself the command to go to the whole world to preach the Good News to all creatures.
In St. Luke we read that Jesus, after having instituted the great Sacrament of Love, gives to the Apostles and, through them, to all their successors, the power to do the same until the end of the world: Hoc facite, in meam commemorationem. (Lk 22:19)3
It is still from the Holy Gospel that the Priest knows that the power that he has to free souls from their sins comes directly to him from Jesus. It is in the Holy Gospel that he reads about the great reward the Heavenly Father has prepared for faithful Priests. And Jesus told them: Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me,
in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Mt 19:28)
From this it follows that the book of the Holy Gospel should be, not only for the Priest, but for every aspirant to such a sublime state, the principal ambition and the most beloved book. In it, in fact, is contained his code, his law, his rule of life; from it the cleric must know how to draw strength and courage in the difficult journey of his calling!

EXAMPLE. - St. Ignatius of Loyola. - Among the principal saints who in the XVI century opposed to the false Lutheran reformation a work of true Catholic reformation and were a bulwark against the spread of Protestantism, St. Ignatius of Loyola is certainly to be counted.
Let us recall just two events very much related to the Sacred Scriptures.
When Ignatius, after being wounded during the siege of Pamplona (1521), was brought to the hospital, he asked for literature that would make his forced rest less lengthy and boring. He would have desired chivalrous novels, narrations of heroic deeds, but it was providence that placed in his hands the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the lives of Saints. He began to reflect on his own life and realized the vanity of that world he served. From then on his conversion began. He decided to give up earthly soldiership to serve, or, rather, lead another noble militia that would serve not an earthly king, but Jesus Christ himself. After hanging his sword at the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Monserrat, he retired at Manresa for a long course of exercises: from here his idea of founding the Society of Jesus.
In Paris, where he was staying to pursue his studies, he found his first companions; among them were illustrious names like Salmeron, Laynez, and Lefèvre. There was, at the University of Paris, an illustrious and still young professor to whom the honors and glories of the world and of science smiled: Francis Xavier. Ignatius won him over to himself: What
does it profit a man - he often repeated the words of the Divine Master - to gain the whole world if he loses his own soul? Those words penetrated little by little the good heart of Francis, until they caused him to completely renounce the world.
On 15 August 1534, in the church of Montmartre in Paris, Ignatius, along with his first companions, pronounced his first religious vows: there was laid the first base of that Company which gave the Church so many saints and men eminent in doctrine, of that Company which is the right arm of the Church and has already accomplished much good in the world.


Give ear, O heavens, while I speak;
let the earth hearken to the words of my mouth!
May my instruction soak in like the rain,
and my discourse permeate like the dew,
like a downpour upon the grass,
like a shower upon the crops.
For I will sing the LORD'S renown.
Oh, proclaim the greatness of our God!
The Rock - how faultless are his deeds,
how right all his ways!
A faithful God, without deceit,
how just and upright he is!
Yet basely has he been treated
by his degenerate children, a perverse and crooked race!
Is the LORD to be thus repaid by you,
O stupid and foolish people?
Is he not your father who created you?
Has he not made you and established you?
Think back on the days of old,
reflect on the years of age upon age.
Ask your father and he will inform you,
ask your elders and they will tell you:
When the Most High assigned the nations their heritage,
when he parceled out the descendants of Adam,
He set up the boundaries of the peoples
after the number of the sons of God;
While the LORD'S own portion was Jacob,
His hereditary share was Israel.

(Dt 32:1-9)


Reward for him who follows Jesus

Then Peter said to him in reply, We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us? Jesus said to them, Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

(Mt 19:27-30)


God of my fathers, LORD of mercy, you who have made all things by your word and in your wisdom have established man to rule the creatures produced by you, to govern the world in holiness and justice, and to render judgment in integrity of heart: Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne, and reject me not from among your children; for I am your servant, the son of your handmaid, a man weak and short-lived and lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws. Indeed, though one be perfect among the sons of men, if Wisdom, who comes from you, be not with him, he shall be held in no esteem. You have chosen me king over your people and magistrate for your sons and daughters. You have bid me build a temple on your holy mountain and an altar in the city that is your dwelling place, a copy of the holy tabernacle which you had established from of old. Now with you is Wisdom, who knows your works and was present when you made the world; who understands what is pleasing in your eyes and what is conformable with your commands. Send her forth from your holy heavens and from your glorious throne dispatch her that she may be with me and work with me, that I may know what is your pleasure. For she knows and understands all things, and will guide me discreetly in my affairs and safeguard me by her glory; thus my deeds will be acceptable, and I shall judge your people justly and be worthy of my father's throne.

(Wis 9:1-12)


1 This is the spelling of the Vulgata. Very often in LS we find “Abacuc.”

2 The construction is syntactically inexact, but it corresponds to the original. It should read: “punishments of the Bible were inflicted upon Mary...”

3 “Do this in memory of me.”