Blessed James Alberione

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St. James the Lesser is so called to differentiate him from another James, the brother of the Apostle St. John called the Greater and killed by sword by Herod between the year 42-44 in Jerusalem.
He was the son of Cleophas and Mary, relative of the Most Holy Virgin, and he was, with his brothers Jude, Simon, and Joseph,1 a cousin of Christ. In fact, in the Gospel he is often called the Lord's brother: now we know with certainty that Our Lady did not have other children except Jesus and that on the other hand the Gospel uses the same word - brother - to indicate both brothers and cousins.
He was one of the twelve Apostles; Jesus Christ appeared to him in particular after the resurrection, and it seems that Christ chose him as Bishop of Jerusalem.
For about thirty years he held his seat in Jerusalem, with such prudence and holiness that he was admired even by his enemies, the Jews. St. Paul calls him one of the columns of the Church and visits him when he passes by Jerusalem.
He was martyred between 62 to 64, under the pontificate of Ananias, in a popular uprising instigated by the Scribes and Pharisees. His feast is celebrated on May 1 along with St. Philip, the Apostle.

The Letter of St. James is addressed to Jewish Christians dispersed among the pagan nations in order to encourage them during persecutions, stimulate them to conform their lives to the Christian faith and to put them on guard against some (Simonites,2 Nicholaites3) who, wrongly interpreting some words of St. Paul, were saying that there is no need for good works, but faith is enough.
St. James fights against this destructive idea, and although he speaks of many other virtues, he insists on justice and charity and clearly says that faith is vain without good works and one is not saved with showing off knowledge and doctrine, but with Christian virtues. This letter has more the form of a moral exhortation than of a letter.
The short prologue is followed by exhortations to constancy, to a living faith accompanied by works. The letter moves on to censure one who aspires to act as a teacher, and speaks of true and false wisdom. After having recommended peace and harmony, it threatens the heartless rich, speaks of patience, of oaths, says what Christians must do in various circumstances, especially in case of sickness, and ends by recommending prayers for sinners.
This letter, written in Jerusalem towards the year 60, seems to suppose the letter to the Romans, because it explains the ideas of St. Paul, badly understood, that faith requires good works and justification does not come from the works of the law, but from Christian deeds.

The Bible and Sacred Liturgy

Wonderful are your decrees;
therefore I observe them.

(Ps 118/119:129)

We already have mentioned several times that the Holy Bible is not only light for our mind, way for our will, but also strength and grace for our heart. Since this is the main scope of the sacred Liturgy, that is, to get for the heart through the Sacraments and Sacramentals all the needed grace for sanctification, let us talk about it here, in this third part of the month that precisely aims to show how to hope for graces.
We shall therefore see what Liturgy is, its importance, and what relationship it has with the Bible.

* * *

Sacred Liturgy can be defined as: The complex of acts of public cult established by church authority.
Liturgy includes everything that refers to these acts of public cult, hence a number of elements, like the persons involved in worship, liturgical actions and objects, places and liturgical times.
Liturgical persons are, for example, all the lower ministers who, at Mass, assist the higher minister, that is, the Deacon, who, in his
turn, assists the Priest. If the Priest has the faculty of celebrating the Holy Mass, he does not have the faculty, however, of conferring this on others; hence, above him there must be the Bishop who occupies the highest level in the sacred hierarchy of Order.
Liturgical personnel also are all those who make up, for example, a procession.
Liturgical actions are the celebration of the Holy Mass, with all the complex of its ceremonies; chant, blessings, consecrations, administration of the Sacraments and of Sacramentals; the recitation of the Breviary; processions, etc.
Liturgical objects are all the objects that are used for the various sacred rites. Some objects are consecrated, like the chalice and the paten, others are simply blessed, like crosses, religious images, paintings, vestments, water, incense, etc.
Liturgical places are all the Basilicas, the churches, the sanctuaries, chapels, oratories, monasteries, cemeteries, etc.
Liturgical times: here comes in the first place the liturgical year, in its marvelous cycle that makes us see the entire life of Jesus and of Our Lady, the feasts of the various Saints, the various hours during which the breviary must be recited or the Holy Sacrifice celebrated, etc.
All of these contribute to make up Sacred Liturgy wherein every Christian, we can say, continually lives and from which he can draw priceless spiritual treasures, because Liturgy possesses all that is beautiful, devout, and holy the Church, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit in the course of twenty centuries, was able to concentrate in her rites.
Millions and millions of the faithful throughout the world
drank from those pure and abundant springs and sanctified themselves.
From just one liturgical formula that is well meditated can spring out a more abundant font of living water of devotion, that hundreds of pages of certain books of piety cannot do.
How can we explain this? We can explain this by the fact that the most wise Church drew, we can say, all her liturgy from the Holy Bible, and therefore this Liturgy shares the power and efficacy of the Sacred Books.
1. As we have mentioned, the Liturgy includes words: the Breviary, Missals, Books of Rites, Ceremonials, Pontificals, etc. Two thirds of the words making up these books are taken from the Bible.
You hear so many things from your Priests. Perhaps you read so many of their writings. Well, a good part of what you hear or read, if you open the Holy Bible, you find there.
2. In Liturgy there are many very beautiful ceremonies. The essential part of them is taken from the Bible. Many ceremonies of the O.T., it is true, have not been taken the way they were, but were not abrogated, only perfected, just as Holy Baptism replaced the circumcision of the Hebrews. Others instead were taken as they were. The Church took from the Bible even the division of the Hours in which Priests have to recite the Holy Office. In substance, however, the entire Liturgy comes from the Bible. Numerous rites and acts of worship that the Roman Liturgy has, if we open the Holy Gospel or the Acts of the Apostles, we find them there in all their beauty.
3. Furthermore, the Church takes from the Sacred Scriptures all the spirit and soul of her Liturgy and her Liturgy could be called: evangelical Liturgy.
* * *

It is necessary to understand the spirit of Liturgy, in its words, ceremonies, and objects. It is an error to reduce the Liturgy to the simple things that appear like ceremonies or chant. A Christian, and much more one called to the Priesthood, must have much deeper understanding: his reflection must not stop at the surface of liturgical things, acts, or words, but making use of books and translations, he must try to penetrate the spirit of every liturgical ceremony and word.
A few years back, unfortunately, Liturgy was like the famous apocalypse book, closed with seven seals; today, thanks to the Lord, it is no longer so: never before have numerous translations, books and liturgical magazines opened the way to make known the secrets and ineffable beauty of the Liturgy.
It is consoling to see that, in very many parishes, the faithful assist at Mass, at Vespers and at all the Liturgical Functions, especially at those of the Holy week, with their book in hand, and follow step by step the Priest, in his liturgical actions, with immense profit for their souls.
And now let us pray so that this most laudable custom may become more and more widespread, and so that all, reading the Holy Bible, may learn to discover in it the spirit and end of all the Holy Liturgy which is: the Glory of God and peace to men.

EXAMPLE. - Ezra reads the Law before the people. - Now when the seventh month came, the whole people gathered as one man in the open space before the Water Gate, and they called upon Ezra the scribe to bring forth the book of the law of Moses which the LORD prescribed for Israel. On the first day of the seventh month, therefore, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to
understand. Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate, he read out of the book from daybreak till midday, in the presence of the men, the women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.
Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion; at his right side stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, and on his left Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, Meshullam. Ezra opened the scroll so that all the people might see it (for he was standing higher up than any of the people); and, as he opened it, all the people rose. Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, Amen, amen! Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD, their faces to the ground. (The Levites Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah explained the law to the people, who remained in their places.) Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.
Then (Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and) Ezra the priest-scribe (and the Levites who were instructing the people) said to all the people: Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep - for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further: Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength! (And the Levites quieted all the people, saying, Hush, for today is holy, and you must not be saddened.) Then all the people went to eat and drink, to distribute portions, and to celebrate with great joy, for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.

(Neh 8:1-12)

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - I shall seek to speak with someone regarding the beauty of the Bible and I shall advice him to read it.


I waited, waited for the LORD;
who bent down and heard my cry,
drew me out of the pit of destruction,
out of the mud of the swamp,
set my feet upon rock, steadied my steps,
and put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
Many shall look on in awe
and they shall trust in the LORD.
Happy those whose trust is the LORD,
who turn not to idolatry
or to those who stray after falsehood.
How numerous, O LORD, my God,
you have made your wondrous deeds!
And in your plans for us
there is none to equal you.
Should I wish to declare or tell them,
too many are they to recount.
sacrifice and offering you do not want;
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require;
so I said, Here I am;
your commands for me are written in the scroll.
To do your will is my delight;
my God, your law is in my heart!
I announced your deed to a great assembly;
I did not restrain my lips;
you, LORD, are my witness.
Your deed I did not hide within my heart;
your loyal deliverance I have proclaimed.
I made no secret
of your enduring kindness to a great assembly.
LORD, do not withhold your compassion from me;
may your enduring kindness ever preserve me.
For all about me are evils beyond count;
my sins so overcome me I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head;
my courage fails me.
LORD, graciously rescue me!
Come quickly to help me, LORD!
Put to shame and confound
all who seek to take my life.
Turn back in disgrace those who desire my ruin.
Let those who say Aha! know dismay and shame.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you.
May those who long for your help always say,
The LORD be glorified.
Though I am afflicted and poor,
the Lord keeps me in mind.
You are my help and deliverer;
my God, do not delay!

(Ps 39/40:2-18)


Institution of the Most Holy Eucharist

When the day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread arrived, the day for sacrificing the Passover lamb, he sent out Peter and John, instructing them, Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover. They asked him, Where do you want us to make the preparations? And he answered them, When you go into the city, a man will meet you carrying a jar of water. Follow him into the house that he enters and say to the master of the house, 'The teacher says to you, Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room that is furnished. Make the preparations there. Then they went off and found everything exactly as he had told them, and there they prepared the Passover.
When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it (again) until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God. Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you (that) from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me. And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.
And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed. And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed.

(Lk 22:7-23)


LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below; you keep your covenant of kindness with your servants who are faithful to you with their whole heart. You have kept the promise you made to my father David, your servant. You who spoke that promise, have this day, by your own power, brought it to fulfillment. Now, therefore, LORD, God of Israel, keep the further promise you made to my father David, your servant, saying, 'You shall always have someone from your line to sit before me on the throne of Israel, provided only that your descendants look to their conduct so that they live
in my presence, as you have lived in my presence.' Now, LORD, God of Israel, may this promise which you made to my father David, your servant, be confirmed. Can it indeed be that God dwells among men on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built! Look kindly on the prayer and petition of your servant, O LORD, my God, and listen to the cry of supplication which I, your servant, utter before you this day.

(1Kgs 8:23-30)


1 Cf. Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3.

2 Acts 8:9-24: the story of Simon and the origin of simony. The Simonites do not exist; probably Don Alberione refers to “simoniacs,” as on p. 270, where he names them still with the Nicholaits.

3 Gnostics belonging to at least two different sects, one during the apostolic times that derived its name from that of the deacon Nicholas of Antioch (Acts 6:5), the other that was connected with the Barbelognostics and flourished in the I-II centuries after Christ. The first, denounced in the Apocalypse (Rv 2:6,14-15), believed in compromising with idolatry and sexual liberties; the second, into which the first seems to flow, was part of Egyptian gnosis, and it also gave great importance to the sexual element.