Blessed James Alberione

Opera Omnia


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As St. Jerome attests, St. Luke is believed to be a native of Antioch of Syria. His style testifies to us his good culture (coltura);1 and his correctness in the use of technical terms when he talks of sicknesses and healings reveal him to be a good connoisseur of medicine. St. Paul himself calls him: my beloved physician. Tradition says that he is also a painter and to him would be attributed paintings of the Most Holy Virgin called the Madonna of St. Luke.
He was converted to Christianity through the work of St. Paul and he followed him in almost all his missionary journeys after having met him in Troas, and he was his faithful companion during his imprisonments in Caesarea and Rome.
He wrote the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. And there are those who understand as allusive to the Gospel of St. Luke the words of St. Paul: according to my Gospel. Then the Acts are in great part the narration of the missions of St. Paul; they narrate his experiences until the first imprisonment.
After St. Paul's death, he preached in Greece and it seems that he died a martyr.

St. Luke is the author of the third Gospel. He himself gives the reason and the purpose of his work. All the Fathers recognize in St. Luke the most elegant writer of the N.T., the echo of the ideas and words of St. Paul. Not only from Paul, however, but also from the other Apostles did he get the Gospel which he destined to the Gentiles.
The goal the Evangelist wanted to achieve is the truth, that is, the confirmation that he wants to give to the doctrine which Theophilus has already learned. Hence Luke does not give a primary instruction, but intends to communicate to Theophilus by means of historical events narrated in an orderly manner, the absolute certainty of the faith.
Concerning the composition of the third Gospel, we see a great similarity of material and arrangement between St. Mark and St. Luke; whence almost all are in agreement in admitting the dependence of St. Luke on St. Mark; and the second Evangelist would be one of those who wrote earlier than Luke.
Luke writes for the Greeks: in fact, he omits many things that cannot be of interest to the Gentiles, and on the other hand, he diligently relates what can be of praise for them.
The third Gospel is not only written in an elegant style. It is also a true work of history in the understanding of that time, with its well-ordered documents and with its prologue and idea; and it completes the first two Gospels by treating more lengthily the infancy of Jesus.


The book of the Acts of the Apostles, according to what St. Luke himself attests, is the second part of a single work. The end of the third Gospel and the beginning of the Acts are so connected that we can affirm that the author wanted it that way. It is therefore probable that the author in writing the end of his Gospel already had the plan of the second part of his work.
The Acts clearly reveal the disciple of St. Paul: we can even say that the greater part of the book talks about the apostolate of St. Paul.
The aim of the book can be summarized in these words: You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.2 In fact, St. Luke narrates how the Apostles, in virtue of the
Holy Spirit bore witness to Christ from Jerusalem to Rome.
The Acts are the continuation, the complement, the crown of the Gospel; we can say they are the Gospel in compendium and in practice because they narrate the life of the Church, the triumphs of grace and of the Christian virtues. They are also the necessary introduction to the letters of St. Paul and of the other Apostles which, without the Acts, would be incomprehensible in some places.


Holy Scripture cancels sins

I will never forget your precepts;
through them you give me life.
(Ps 118/119:93)

In this third part we shall see in what way Holy Scripture is the fountain of life for our soul, that is, how the reading of it frees the soul from sins, fortifies it, and protects it from temptations; also, how it cancels purgatory, increases love for God and is useful for all the practices of piety: meditation, visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament, examination of conscience, etc.
On this first day of the third tenth of the month, we shall see how the reading of the Bible purifies the soul from sin and, detaching her from earthly things, raises her up to heaven.

* * *

At Mass, the Priest, says a very short prayer, but one full of meaning and wonderful
effects: Per evangelica dicta, deleantur nostra delicta - through the words of the Gospel, may our sins be cancelled.
The sacrosanct words of the Gospel cancel our sins in three ways. First of all because
a) The reading of the Bible is a Sacramental. We know that whoever receives a Sacramental, for example, he makes the Sign of the Cross with holy water, obtains the forgiveness of venial sins; thus it happens to anyone who reads Holy Scripture; he truly obtains forgiveness of venial sins committed.
A page of the Gospel, read with right intention and with sorrow for one's sins is enough to free and purify the soul from so many imperfections.
b) Because it stimulates in us the love of God. The soul of one who reads the Bible, willingly accepts the word of God, enjoys it and imagines to receive it from the very hands of his good Heavenly Father who, for a good seventy-two times, deigned to seize the pen and to write him. And he reads those sacred books as a loving son reads his faraway father's letter; he prostrates before God and with humility and confidence, repeats with the young Samuel: Loquere, Domine, quia servus tuus audit te - Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.3
It is an act of love: the Church in fact prescribes that every Priest, after having read in the Mass the sacred text of the Gospel, kiss it; and Blessed Cottolengo4 did it with so much affection and love that bystanders noticed it and after the Mass conversed about the edification they received from that act.
The holy priest, after reading the Gospel passage, was so inflamed with love that
his face assumed the color of redhot ember, and kissing the Missal, seemed to suck from it the sublime truths it contained.
Oh! He who truly loves God's words can (raffigurare5) compare himself to the crowds who, drawn by and thirsty for the teachings of Jesus, thronged upon Him to listen to his words: turbae irruerunt in eum ut audirent verbum Dei.6
Here we have the admirable example of the Most Holy Virgin. She, in recollection and in sweet silence, knew how to gather every word that came from the divine lips of her son, Jesus, and jealously kept them in her heart and meditated on them: Maria autem conservabat omnia verba haec, conferens in corde suo.7
To him who greatly loves Holy Scripture, many sins are forgiven; as it happened in fact to Mary Magdalene who loved much, since much was forgiven her: Remittuntur ei peccata multa, quoniam dilexit multum.8
No one loves the Lord more than he who does not want anything except what He wants.
Now, one who habitually reads the Scriptures, little by little finds his desires divinized to the point of desiring only what the Lord desires, and to want only what He wants.
c) In the third place, Holy Scripture disposes the soul for every pardon. He who reads the Bible, if he is still in sin, sooner or later shall change. And this because the reading of the Bible is a very effective prayer; now we know that he who prays has every grace; the first of graces is precisely liberation of the soul from sin.
As proof of this we could cite numerous episodes of sinners converted through the reading of Holy Scripture. We remember that of St. Hillary, converted to faith in Christ while reading the first chapter of St. John's Gospel;
the philosopher St. Justin, converted upon reading the Psalms; St. Theophilus of Antioch and Athenagoras, the Gospels; the Anglican minister Frederic William Faber, upon hearing the singing of the Psalm, Laudate pueri Dominum,9 and so many other examples.
The reading of the Gospel not only takes away sin from the soul, but transforms it too and communicates to it such a strength as to enable it to reach, with the aid of divine grace, the highest peaks of sanctity.
Try putting the Bible in the hands of a sinner. He will be incapable of continuing in his sin.
Look at the young cavalryman Ignatius, lying in bed because of a wound in his leg: he asks, in order to pass the time, for some novel where the deeds of some ardent champion are narrated, but Providence disposes that holy books be brought to him, among them the Holy Gospel. Those readings were for him a revelation and a real stroke of grace; we know that he left the hospital no longer that knight of Loyola but the heroic knight of Christ.
The devil knows well the power that the sacred books communicate to the soul, and because of this he exerts all efforts to keep them away from the hands of the faithful. On our part, however, let us always carry them with us, at least a page, as the first Christians were doing, and this will be a powerful defense against his diabolical temptations.

EXAMPLE. - Silvio Pellico.10 - The young patriot, languishing under the Piombi of Venice because of political intrigues, experienced in the solitude and rigors of imprisonment some beneficial effects for the good of his soul.
In prison, Pellico was allowed to read; and he, among the books, preferred the Holy Bible. It's true that he had set it aside
during his dark days. He had even allowed a thin layer of dust to cover it, but one day he courageously defended it against the ignorant rudeness of the son of the prison guard and from then on he always loved it.
In fact, one day one of the guard's sons came to him, so Pellico writes, snuggling me, he said: Since you no longer read that kind of a book, you are no longer so melancholic, it seems to me.
You think so? I told him.
Picking up the Bible, with a handkerchief I wiped from it its dust, and after carelessly opening it, these words fell under my eyes: Et ait ad discipulos suos: Impossibile est ut non veniant scandala: vae autem illi per quem veniunt! Utilius est illi si lapis molaris imponatur circa collum eius et proiciatur in mare, quam ut scandalizet unum de pusillis istis.11
I was struck to find these words and I blushed that that boy noticed, from the dust that he saw over it, that I was no longer reading the Bible and that he presumed that I have become more amiable having become heedless of God.
You wanton kid! I told him with an affectionate scolding and I felt sorry for having scandalized him. This is not that kind of a book and since I have not been reading for several days, my state is worse...
The boy went out. I felt a certain joy for having picked up the Bible again, for having confessed that I was ill without it. It seemed to me that I gave satisfaction to a generous friend, unjustly offended, that I became reconciled to him...
I placed the Bible on a chair, I knelt on the ground to read it, and that ego that does not easily weep, broke into tears...12

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - Today, to perform three mortifications so the Bible's real meaning may be better and better penetrated.


Truly with you God is hidden,
the God of Israel, the savior!
Those are put to shame and disgrace
who vent their anger against him;
those go in disgrace who carve images.
Israel, you are saved by the LORD, saved forever!
You shall never be put to shame
or disgrace in future ages.
For thus says the LORD,
the creator of the heavens, who is God,
the designer and maker of the earth who established it,
not creating it to be a waste,
but designing it to be lived in:
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken from hiding
nor from some dark place of the earth,
and I have not said to the descendants of Jacob,
Look for me in an empty waste.
I, the LORD, promise justice, I foretell what is right.
Come and assemble, gather together,
you fugitives from among the gentiles!
They are without knowledge
who bear wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save.
Come here and declare in counsel together:
Who announced this from the beginning
and foretold it from of old?
Was it not I, the LORD,
besides whom there is no other God?
There is no just and saving God but me.
Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth,
for I am God; there is no other!
By myself I swear,
uttering my just decree and my unalterable word:
To me every knee shall bend;
by me every tongue shall swear,
Saying, Only in the LORD are just deeds and power.
Before him in shame shall come
all who vent their anger against him.
In the LORD shall be the vindication
and the glory of all the descendants of Israel.

(Is 45:15-25)13


Jesus reproves the murmurers

The Jews murmured about him because he said, I am the bread that came down from heaven, and they said, Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, 'I have come down from heaven'? Jesus answered and said to them, Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: 'They shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen
the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

(Jn 6:41-47)


My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you, O my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven. From the time of our fathers even to this day great has been our guilt, and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered over, we and our kings and our priests, to the will of the kings of foreign lands, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace, as is the case today. And now, but a short time ago, mercy came to us from the LORD, our God, who left us a remnant and gave us a stake in his holy place; thus our God has brightened our eyes and given us relief in our servitude. For slaves we are, but in our servitude our God has not abandoned us; rather, he has turned the good will of the kings of Persia toward us. Thus he has given us new life to raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins, and has granted us a fence in Judah and Jerusalem. But now, O our God, what can we say after all this? For we have abandoned your commandments, which you gave through your servants the prophets: the land which you are entering to take as your possession is a land unclean with the filth of the peoples of the land, with the abominations with which they have filled it from one end to the other in their uncleanness. Do not, then, give your daughters to their sons in marriage, and do not take their daughters for your sons. Never promote their peace and prosperity; thus you will grow strong, enjoy the produce of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your children forever. After all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and our great guilt - though you, our God, have made less of our sinfulness than it deserved and have allowed us to survive as we do - shall we again violate your commandments by intermarrying with these abominable peoples? Would you not become so angered with us as to destroy us without remnant or survivor? O LORD, God of Israel, you are just; yet we have been spared, the remnant we are today. Here we are before you in our sins. Because of all this, we can no longer stand in your presence.

(Ezr 9:6-15)


1 Cultura: cf. pp. 257 and 281 where reference is made, at least indirectly, to the importance of being cultured even in relation to knowledge of the Bible. Don Alberione would often insist on the need for auxiliary study, in view of the apostolate, more than for a culture that is end in itself: “We have to remember that we must not have too much trust in studies, but do it this way: study as if every good result depended on us, but hope in God because truly it is He who creates the fruits... We have to deal with a world that wants us to present ourselves decorously, like the Priest who preaches from the pulpit. Hence: to write well, to learn languages, style, and above all to be skillful in thought... Our press must bear Jesus: whoever reads it must therefore find in it the way, the truth, and the life” (ER 1, 1935, pp. 107-108).

2 Acts 1:8.

3 1Sm 3:10.

4 St. Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo's example is especially forceful (cf. note 11 of p. 204).

5 Raffigurare (imagine) improper verb for paragonare (compare).

6 Lk 5:1. The Vulgate has: “Cum turbae irruerent in eum ut audirent verbum Dei...”; and the CEI, on v. 2, translates thus: “Mentre... la folla gli faceva ressa intorno per ascoltare la parola di Dio...” The NAB translation: “While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God...”

7 Lk 2:51.

8 Lk 7:47.

9 Ps 112/113:1.

10 See note 1 on p. 78.

11 It's from Lk 17:1-2: “He said to his disciples, 'Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin'

”; cf. Mt 18:7.

12 The quote is from: S. PELLICO, Le mie prigioni (1832), chapters XXIV-XXV.

13 LS indicates “Is. XLV, 15-26.” (Is 45:15-26) In the Vulgata chapter 45 of Isaiah has 26 verses, while in the new translations, 25: verses 23 and 24 are made one as verse 23.