Blessed James Alberione

Opera Omnia


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John, son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of James the Greater, born in Bethsaida, and fisherman in the lake of Genessareth, was already a disciple of the Baptist. He was with his father and brother mending the nets when Christ called him. He was the beloved disciple of Jesus; he placed his head on Jesus' chest, and received at Calvary the noble task of taking Christ's place in the duties of a son towards Mary.
After the Ascension he was with Peter heading the Church of Jerusalem; he went with Peter to Samaria and then habitually lived in Jerusalem, perhaps to assist the Virgin. With Mary's demise, he went to Ephesus and headed the Churches of Asia. Persecuted by Diocletian, he was put, in Rome, in a cauldron of boiling oil, but he emerged from it unharmed. He was relegated to the island of Patmos where he wrote the Apocalypse. With the death of Domitian, he went back to Ephesus, where he died almost a centenarian.
The fathers are unanimous in attributing to St. John three letters, the Apocalypse, and the fourth Gospel.

The testimonies of the Fathers unanimously affirm that the Apostle St. John wrote the Gospel after the others, in his old age, during the last years of the first century, in Ephesus, against those who deny Christ's divinity in order to demonstrate with facts that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Messiah. What the Fathers affirm is confirmed by the analysis of the fourth Gospel which, in its harmonious unity, leaving out many things useful to his thesis that are in the Synoptics, supposes them and completes them.
The fourth Gospel shows as its author a Hebrew who has lived long in Palestine, became part of the apostolic College, and writes for the Gentiles and among the Gentiles, when the Hebrew people were no longer a people. It also shows that its author is an eyewitness. Such a witness, with all the aforementioned connotations, cannot but be the Apostle St. John the Evangelist.
This is the affirmation of the Fathers of the entire venerable antiquity, and today, after a century of debates, no serious critic denies St. John anymore the paternity of this book that is unique in the literature of the world, a sublime Gospel that is the worthy crown of the Synoptics, the most beautiful story of Jesus written with the pen of love. Only John could write the fourth Gospel which transcends the regions of the Angels and goes straight to God. (Augustine)1 only John who felt the heartbeats of Jesus, who admired the gentleness of the Virgin Mother, and who received heavenly secrets, could write the wonders of the fourth Gospel. He who pressed his ears on the heart of Christ and heard its beatings, meditated for long years on the words of the Master. And the divine words, after so many years, went out with love from his heart, shining in their true mysterious and luminous meaning. Thus John, by touching on the spiritual reality of events, became the true historian of Christ, leaving to the Synoptics the glory of being his chroniclers, while he, with his Gospel completes them, sublimates them, makes them speak divinely, and he is well portrayed by the eagle that flies in the heavens...

The Holy Gospel is salvation for us

I long for your salvation, Lord;
your teaching is my delight.

(Ps 118/119:174)

The Church prescribes that the Priests recite, before the reading of the Gospel passage contained in the Breviary, the beautiful prayer: Evangelica lectio sit nobis salus et protectio: May the reading of the Gospel be for us salvation and protection. And we, taking from this our starting point: we consider in what way the Holy Gospel is salvation for us; and we shall say that the reading of the Holy Gospel is salvation: 1st. Because it is in itself a great merit; 2nd. Because it purifies our intentions; 3rd. It's a valid aid to spiritual perfection.
1st. It is a great merit. The reading of the Holy Bible is called the great sacramental because it is part of the revelation and Incarnation of the Divine Word. There are so many persons who would like to do a lot of good works, to do a lot of charitable works, but are deprived of means; they would want to hear many masses, but they do not have the time; they would like to do many things to increase their merits, but they lack the capability, the health, the time. Let these souls read the Sacred Scriptures and this shall make up for all the good works that they would like to do. They shall
have a great merit in heaven. Because if every good work is meritorious, how much more meritorious is the reading of the word of God which is one of the first Sacramentals! It is always available to us; and its merit comes immediately after that of the Sacraments.
2nd. It purifies our intentions. It is a fact that the Bible and sin cannot stay together. Those sacrosanct Scriptures, those words, the sublime examples that we read in them have in them a mysterious force and detach little by little the soul from the things of the earth and raise her to heaven. We read, for example, Jesus' words: No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.2
We read the words of the Psalms: How long will you people mock my honor, love what is worthless, chase after lies? Know that the Lord is God, our maker to whom we belong, whose people we are, God's welltended flock.3 I rejoiced when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord'.4
The soul feels herself raised up to heaven; she tastes the beauty and sweetness of her blessed goal for which God has created us; the exiled man rejoices as an exile who after a long journey looks forward to his return to his homeland.
Whoever reads the Scriptures consorts with the Heavenly Father, with the Angels, with the Saints: he shall have heavenly aspirations! He shall assume even the way of thinking and speaking of God and of those blessed spirits.
It is impossible to read the Bible and to continue
doing sinful works, that is, to live in enmity with God.
3rd. The Holy Gospel is a valid help for spiritual perfection. Oh, how varied are the effects produced by the words of God! The discourses and writings of men often not only have no good effect, unfortunately sometimes they are bad ones. How many times does it happen that an advice is given to a sinner, and instead of benefiting from it, he hardens the more in his vice! The words of God have a marvelous effect!
A book, an advice has only so much strength as the sanctity of the one who gives the advice or writes the book: that book shall have as much strength as the author has infused it with. The fruit that came to souls from the Imitation of Christ,5 the Practice of the love of Jesus Christ,6 the Filotea7 of St. Francis de Sales,8 etc., is incalculable.
What are we to say if a book were written not by a saint, but by God himself? This book would contain in itself the greatest grace, since God is grace himself. Now the Bible is precisely the book of God. He is its principal author. It follows then that the Holy Bible is the book most suited and most useful for spiritual reading and all other books of piety with respect to the Bible are like fireflies compared to the sun.
He who habitually nourishes himself with the Bible finds the way to perfection very easy, just as one who has been wellnourished before departing finds a long journey easy.
The spiritual reading of whatsoever book is so different from that of Holy Scripture! There is an infinite distance like that between earth and heaven, between the natural state and the supernatural state, or between spiritual Communion and sacramental Communion.
The words of Holy Scripture are the mystical grain of mus-tard seed about which Jesus speaks in the Holy Gospel, seed that will sprout and grow into a majestic plant. Semen est verbum Dei: God's word is a seed.9 It can fall along the road, among the rocks, amidst thorns; but if it falls on good ground, what a fruit! The Gospel says: It bears fruit, some thirty, others fifty, and still others a hundred-fold.10
Hence: when our soul is discouraged and beaten, when we feel a greater need for grace and light, let us run to the divine book with faith and we shall have what we desire.

EXAMPLE. - St. Andrew Avellino is converted upon reading the Bible. - Andrew Avellino, first called Ancellotto, was born in Castrenuovo in the Lucca Region. While still very young, he was sent to study literature, and spent the most delicate period of his life amidst liberal studies, where his great soul found itself uncomfortable. Already enrolled for some time in the clerical militia, he went to Naples to study law there. He graduated in jurisprudence and undertook to defend causes in the church forum. One day, when a little lie escaped him while he was defending a cause, and soon after, having read in Holy Scripture the words: For a stealthy utterance does not go unpunished, and a lying mouth slays the soul,11 he became so sorry and repentant of his fault that he resolved at once to leave such a kind of life, and he con-secrated himself totally to divine worship. He asked and ob-tained admission among the Clerics regular.
All the time that his rules allowed him free time, he dedicated to prayer and to the study of Holy Scripture, and his biographers narrate that often, while he recited the Psalms, he heard the An-gels singing on the air. He died, filled with merits, while going to the altar and pronouncing the biblical verse, I shall ascend the altar of God.12 The Church celebrates his feast on 10 November.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - Recite ten Glory be in thanksgiving to God for having given us Holy Scripture.

All you peoples, clap your hands;
shout to God with joyful cries.
For the LORD, the Most High, inspires awe,
the great king over all the earth,
who made people subject to us,
brought nations under our feet,
who chose a land for our heritage,
the glory of Jacob, the beloved.
God mounts the throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
God is king over all the earth;
sing hymns of praise.
God rules over the nations;
God sits upon his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples assemble
with the people of the God of Abraham.
For the rulers of the earth belong to God,
who is enthroned on high.

(Ps 46/47:2-10)


The Canaanite mother

Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon. But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us. He said in reply, I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But the woman came and did him homage, saying, Lord, help me. He said in reply, It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs. She said, Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their
masters. Then Jesus said to her in reply, O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish. And her daughter was healed from that hour.

(Mt 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30)


Remember me, LORD, visit me, and avenge me on my persecutors. Because of your long-suffering banish me not; know that for you I have borne insult. When I found your words, I devoured them; they became my joy and the happiness of my heart, Because I bore your name, O LORD, God of hosts. I did not sit celebrating in the circle of merrymakers; Under the weight of your hand I sat alone because you filled me with indignation. Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? You have indeed become for me a treacherous brook, whose waters do not abide! Thus the LORD answered me: If you repent, so that I restore you, in my presence you shall stand; If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece. Then it shall be they who turn to you, and you shall not turn to them; And I will make you toward this people a solid wall of brass. Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail, For I am with you, to deliver and rescue you, says the LORD, I will free you from the hand of the wicked, and rescue you from the grasp of the violent.

(Jer 15:15-21)


1 There is a record of an important commentary on John by St. Augustine of Hippo: the Tractatus in Ioannem (124 homilies on the Gospel and 10 on the first letter) partly spoken and partly dictated starting from the year 406 to after 418. Another important biblical commentary by Augustine are the Enarrationes in Psalmum (or in Psalmos), a theological-spiritual work founded on the mystery of the unity of Christ with the Church, the praying voice of Christus totus (the whole Christ), and on the unity of Old with the New Testament.

2 Mt 6:24,33.

3 Ps 4:3; 99/100:3.

4 Ps 121/122:1.

5 The Imitation of Christ, a work of monastic origin, gradually attributed to Gersone di Vercelli (also called Gersenio Giovanni da Cavaglià, Benedictine, abbot of Vercelli), or to Jehan de Gerson of Paris (Theologian and philosopher - Gerson, Champagne, 1363 - Lyonne 1429), or to the Augustinian Thomas à Kempis. It shows the atmosphere of the so-called devotio moderna.

6 Cf. ALPHONSUS M. DE LIGUORI, Pratica di amar Gesù Cristo, 18ª ed., San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo 1999.

7 When the third edition of Filotea. Introduzione alla vita devota (Filotea. Introduction to the devout life) came out, the author wrote this premise: “This booklet came from my hands in the year 1608... When I quote the words of Holy Scripture, it is not always to explain them, but rather to explain myself through them, inasmuch as they are more worthy of love and respect. If God hears me, you will get benefit from it and receive many blessings.”

8 Francis was born in the castle of Thorens, in Savoy (France), to a family of ancient nobility, and died in Lyonne on 28 December 1622. He studied jurisprudence in Paris and in Padua. But in the course of his academic attendance, his theological interests became preeminent, until his choice of the priestly vocation. He became bishop of Geneva. In the course of his mission, he came to know in Dijon Jeanne Frances Frémiot de Chantal, and from the devout and affectionate correspondence with the noblewoman came about the founding of the Order of the Visitation. Declared a saint in 1665, he will be proclaimed doctor of the Church in 1877 and patron of Catholic journalists in 1923.

9 Lk 8:11.

10 Mt 13:8,23.

11 Wis 1:11.

12 Sal 42/43:4.