Blessed James Alberione

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The Jews had their religious freedom under the Persians. After the death of Alexander, Palestine was contested between the kingdom of Syria and that of Egypt. The one who became cruel against the Jews and wanted to impose Hellenism on Israel was the brother and successor of Seleucid, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. On his return from an expedition in Egypt, he assaulted Jerusalem. Two years later he gave vent to his anger against Jerusalem and the Jews; he sent against them Apollonius with an army that took Jerusalem for the second time, desecrated the temple, where he placed the statue of Jupiter of Olympia. Thereafter the Jewish religion was forbidden under pain of death. A large part of Israel apostasized, but some preferred death to abandonment of their faith; among these was the old man Eleazar and a mother of seven sons. Many escaped to the desert. From these escapees started the resistance movement against Hellenism, the holy war that made of this era the most brilliant in Jewish history.
The old priest Mattathias led the struggle. He organized the resistance. After his death, the heroic Judas Maccabeus succeeded him in the command of the army engaged in the holy war. Succeeding him was Jonathan who obtained some peace for the Jews. After Jonathan's death, the Lord raised up Simeon to head the chosen people whose independence he proclaimed.
The events narrated are the object of the two books of the Maccabees.
The first book, after a rapid mention of Alexander
the Great and of his successors, narrates the persecutions of Antioch, the struggle of the Maccabees until the death of Simeon and it limits itself only to the narration of events, without adding to it any personal reflections. The second book, entirely independent of the first, even anterior to it, takes up again the attempt of Seleucid to loot the temple and stops at the victory of Judah over Nicanor. It is full of reflections on persons and events, and shows the work of Providence in guiding its people with many miracles performed in its favor.
The two books of the Maccabees, although written by different authors for different purposes, can be considered as one inasmuch as they narrate the same things. One sheds light on and completes the other, but on their own they are independent, separate, written originally in different languages, and hence it is well to analyze them in detail, one after the other, as they are in the canon of the Vulgate, although if we look at the events being narrated, the second comes ahead of the first.


The Bible and social virtues

Your decrees are forever just;
give me discernment that I may live.
(Ps 118/119:144)

The Bible does not only teach us how to live well individually or in family by teaching us individual and family virtues, it also teaches us to live well socially!1
The Bible is not only an excellent book of prayers and meditations and a source of Theology, it is also a code and norm of civil,2 commercial and social life; it has laws for everything that borders on or depends on Catholic morals.
To kings and governors of nations it teaches how to govern, and to subjects how to obey.
To judges it teaches how to give sentence justly, while reminding them that every sentence they give will be judged.
To confirm this, we should quote literally the entire book of Judges, the four books of Kings, Josuah, Paralipomenon, all the letters of St. Paul, etc., the books preferred, read, reread and meditated upon by the very Catholic Garcia Moreno, President of Ecuador, who was saying that he did not know how to govern the Republic if not by imitating God; and to know God's government in the world, every day he read the Holy Bible which he made the basis and code of his government. He brought the Republic to a level of civilization, enriching it with schools, streets and bridges, in order to aid agricultural and industrial development. He died a few days before the feast of Our Lady of the Assumption and his last words were: God does not die! God does not die!
Benedict XV said it well: The deviations of today's society have their origin from the fact that the life, the teachings, and the work of Jesus Christ have fallen into deep oblivion, and men no longer draw from them inspiration for their actions. Oh, if the Bible were read and meditated upon, there would not be so much misery in the world, but there would be that international charity so recommended by the reigning Pius XI, and for which he continually recommends to pray and to make penance so that the Lord may grant it to us.
The Bible, saying that all men are brothers and sons of the same father, teaches them charity; it teaches how the various classes of persons ought to love and help each other, what duties servants have towards their masters and vice-versa.
It teaches honesty and justice in commerce and profits, industriousness and work. The Bible is also the source of all apostolates that tend to better society, and all the works of assistance to the young, the elderly, the poor, etc.
All the fourteen works of mercy, seven corporal and seven spiritual, have their origin and foundation in the Bible and where such works are practiced, there is prosperity and true happiness.
Catholic Action, which today accomplishes in society an immense good, as Piux XI called to mind, has also its origin in the Bible. We know from the books of the New Testament how the Apostles and especially St. Paul called to work with them in the Lord's vineyard young people, men and women. The Bible is the foundation of all codes inspired to justice and truth; and every commercial code or one of Christian sociology cannot do without having recourse to the Bible.
It is said that the Hebrew people did not have any code of law other than Holy Scripture. For resolving whatever question and need, they consulted it. And with reason the Jewish people is said to be a theocratic people, that is, a people that has as head and King God. In fact, who truly governed the Hebrews was the Lord; it was He who, through Moses, Josuah, etc., dictated the laws to the people; and often sent his angels to fight for them.
We know that none of the peoples of Palestine could resist the Hebrews; it is true, they too suffered defeats, but these happened when they were not faithful to God's commandments.
The people that has God as their King and Lord, as Cantú shows in his universal history,
is truly blessed: Beata gens cujus est Dominus Deus ejus: Happy the nation whose God is the Lord. (Ps 32/33:12)
And thus shall be happy modern-day peoples; they shall journey well if they shall conform to the principles of the Bible, if they shall accept, as their head and supreme Lord, their God.
All difficulties and hatreds among nations shall cease if all laws shall be inspired after the Bible; there is contained all that human nature needs. Since God is the creator of man, he knows well all the needs and requirements of human nature, and since he is also the primary author of the Bible, he saw to it that that book fully satisfied all needs of human nature.
Rightly therefore can we call the Bible the Code of humanity. And if governments will inspire themselves to it, nations will progress well and will see their enemy turn back and flee. If, instead, their laws will be unjust, they will meet exterminating peoples and they themselves will fall into the pits prepared for others as it happened to Haman who hanged in the same gibbet he had prepared for Mordecai.
St. Louis, king of France, is said not to have made any law or decree without first attending two holy Masses and prayed much; and this so that the Lord would enlighten him and inspire him the law or decree that would truly be useful for the people.
Oh! Blessed be the Lord who raised model men and kings who at the start of their decrees and laws write: In the name of God or by the will of God.
If all kings and governors of the earth made
all their laws in God's name, very soon the world would become an earthly paradise.

EXAMPLE. - St. Francis of Assisi and the Holy Gospel. - Love for the Holy Gospel is the sign, the characteristic of fervent souls destined by God for great things. Now, since the Poverello of Assisi was destined for a mission of immense good, in his heart this love could not but burn. In fact, as his biographers say, he sought the Holy Gospel in every doubt and need.
It is narrated that one day he was greatly bothered for not knowing clearly what the Lord wanted from him. What does Francis do? He goes, takes the Gospel and reads. The words of Jesus to the Apostles fell under his eyes: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations... preach: the kingdom of heaven is at hand.3 Francis felt enlightened, he sees his path and cries out: This I want and with all my heart I want to accomplish. He understands that he has to rebuild not only the material churches of St. Damiano, St. Peter, and the Porziuncola, but also the living Church of Christ.
When it was a matter of dictating the Rules to his Friars, although Francis knew that the work was delicate and very important since it was about laying down the rails on which millions and millions of souls would have to journey towards Heaven, the Saint is not dismayed at all. With Friar Bernard, he goes to the Altar and, after having signed himself three times, takes the book of the Gospels and reads. He closes it and reopens it for a second and third time. The foundation of the Franciscan Rules was established: the three passages read by St. Francis form the three great pillars on which is built the Franciscan Order which counts thousands of Saints and even today continues to be a true breeding ground of Saints.
The grain of mustard seed sown by Francis grew into a majestic tree and under it came to take refuge surpassing geniuses of humanity like Dante, Giotto, and Christopher Columbus.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - In doubts and temptations, with confidence let us also run to the Gospel.
(Continuation of the Canticle of Moses)

Since they have provoked me with their 'no-god'
and angered me with their vain idols,
I will provoke them with a 'no-people';
with a foolish nation I will anger them.
For by my wrath a fire is enkindled
that shall rage to the depths of the nether world,
consuming the earth with its yield,
and licking with flames the roots of the mountains.
I will spend on them woe upon woe
and exhaust all my arrows against them:
Emaciating hunger and consuming fever and bitter pestilence,
and the teeth of wild beasts I will send among them,
with the venom of reptiles gliding in the dust.
Snatched away by the sword in the street
and by sheer terror at home
shall be the youth and the maiden alike,
the nursing babe as well as the hoary old man.
I would have said, 'I will make an end of them and blot out
their name from men's memories,'
Had I not feared the insolence of their enemies,
feared that these foes would mistakenly boast,
'Our own hand won the victory;
the LORD had nothing to do with it.'

(Dt 32:21-27)4


Fraternal correction.
Effectiveness of prayer done together

If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, (amen,) I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three
are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

(Mt 18:15-20)


Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God! Forever blessed and honored is your holy name; may all your works forever bless you. And now, O Lord, to you I turn my face and raise my eyes. Bid me to depart from the earth, never again to hear such insults. You know, O Master, that I am innocent of any impure act with a man, and that I have never defiled my own name or my father's name in the land of my exile. I am my father's only daughter, and he has no other child to make his heir, Nor does he have a close kinsman or other relative whom I might bide my time to marry. I have already lost seven husbands; why then should I live any longer? But if it please you, Lord, not to slay me, look favorably upon me and have pity on me; never again let me hear these insults!

(Tb 3:13ff)5


1 Until now Don Alberione has mentioned individual and social sanctification (p. 14), has spoken about apostolate and social needs (p. 100), and about the family as a cell of society (p. 173).

2 Regarding this important affirmation of Don Alberione, read a pastoral note of the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI): “Today above all, while the Holy Spirit stimulates us to a “new Evangelization” in the context of the multiplicity of religions and cultures, we are invited to participate in the singular dialogue between biblical Revelation and the various signals that in them God has left of himself. This is part of the duty of inculturating the Word of God of which the Bible is simultaneously the primary testimony, the irreplaceable source of inspiration, and guarantee of fidelity. - Attention to the history of the effects of Scripture either in the Church or in society, on the level of religious, spiritual, ethical, and cultural expressions becomes, today, a providential passage to recognizing that “great things the Lord has done for us.” (Ps 125/126:3) He has performed marvelous deeds and still he does it amidst his people, starting from creation till the final fulfillment of salvation.” (La Bibbia nella vita della Chiesa, no. 23)

3 Mt 28:19.

4 LS shows “Deut. XXXII, 21-29,” (Dt 32:21-29) but the Latin text quoted ends with verse 27.

5 This passage corresponds only to the translation that the compiler has with him (Vulgate). There can be problems in finding the same text in other Italian translations. The Greek text of Tobit has come down to us in three different versions. One is in the Sinaitic Codex, and the Vetus Latina comes close to this. The second - used by the Greek Church and is in the Alexandrian and Vatican codexes - appears shorter and is at the same time well edited. The Bible of the CEI follows the (longer) textual type represented by the Sinaitic Codex with sporadic adjustments.