Blessed James Alberione

Opera Omnia


Advanced search



Simon, son of John or Jonah, was a native of Bethsaida, in Galilee. Already a disciple of John the Baptist, he was led by his brother Andrew to Jesus who changed his name to Peter.
After the miracle of the fish, he definitively followed Jesus Christ and was named apostle, rather, the prince of the Apostles; and among the twelve he is always remembered as the first. He had a great faith and an ardent love for the Divine Master.
During the passion, too presumptuous in his faith, he endangered himself and unfortunately denied his Master in spite of the protestations he had made during the last supper. But then, having repented and reformed, he made reparations with an indefectible love.
In fact, after the descent of the Holy Spirit, he was the first to bravely preach the name of Jesus: imprisoned, he did not stop bearing witness to Jesus.
We know that he went to Antioch and founded there the Christian community. After the martyrdom of James the Greater, miraculously freed from prison, he left Jerusalem and went to another place, as the Acts tell us (Acts 12:17). Hence, his departure for Rome go back to this time and the ancient Christian writers as St. Clement of Rome, St. Irenaeus, Tertullian and St. Ignatius Martyr attest to his stay in the eternal city.
We do not know what other apostolic journeys he undertook eventually.
Tradition is unanimous in establishing the martyrdom of St. Peter in the year 67: his feast takes place on 29 June.
We have two letters by St. Peter.

I LETTER OF ST. PETER - This letter, addressed to Christians spread in the provinces of Asia, was written in Rome, perhaps between 63 and 65 A. D, and it supposes the existence of the persecution of Nero throughout the empire because it speaks about it and gives advices relative to it.
The letter exhorts at first to live as Christians in charity; it then speaks of the duties of Christians in relation to authority, and according to the different social classes; finally it exhorts the pastors to be watchful, the faithful to be subject to them, and ends with exhorting to the Christian virtues.
The simple doctrine and practice, expressed with sublime seriousness, while it consoles in afflictions and confirms in the faith, preaches against the Simoniacs and the Nicholaits, and about the need for good works for eternal salvation.

II LETTER OF ST. PETER. - Although it was not universally recognized until the IV century, this letter is certainly St. Peter's, bearing his name and many particulars that only St. Peter could write. It cannot be denied, however, that it differs in style from the first letter; but this is well explained by the different secretaries that St. Peter had in writing his letters. The second letter seems addressed to the same recipients as the first, from Rome, in the year 67.
The purpose of the letter, which can be said to be the testament of the Prince of the Apostles, is to inculcate the need for good works, of fighting the heretics who exchanged freedom for license, and denied the return of Jesus Christ.
This letter is the testament of a father who, seeing death in the face, gives his children the last, heartfelt warnings, and represents, almost more than the first, St. Peter's ardent spirit.

The Bible fountain of piety

I lift up my hands to your commands;
I study your laws, which I love.

(Ps 118/119:48)

By the word piety we mean the complex of devout practices: prayers, acts of virtue, the good actions themselves that we do during the day.
Saying, however, that the Bible is the fountain of piety, we do not to speak only of the external act, like the recitation of the Holy Rosary, Communion, etc., but we mean the spirit that vivifies these acts, without which all the acts of piety, even the most holy, like Holy Communion, all without distinction would be like marble statues, indeed very beautiful, but lifeless.
When the soul prays with humility, repenting of its failures and does all for pure love of God, and tends toward him with a heart in tension, then we can say that it has the spirit of piety. Such spirit therefore does not consist in only vocal prayers nor in good exterior works; but rather in a habitual conformity of our will to that of God.
Piety, as the Apostle St. Paul teaches, is useful for everything and for all: Pietas ad omnia
utilis est (1Tm 4:8); it is useful to infants and to innocent children, so that they may keep their innocence; it is useful to the young, for them to overcome the crisis of youth, a very delicate stage of their life; it is useful to adults, to the elderly, to masters and servants: to everyone it is indispensable for living and dying in God's grace.
It is useful in prosperity and in misfortune, in abundance and in misery, for living well and for dying well. Piety is always necessary because man needs that the grace of God assist him and strengthen him.

* * *

The virtue of piety springs principally from two sources: the Tabernacle and the Bible. We shall focus our reflection on this second source.
Nothing is more advantageous for the salvation of souls, than to know the divine scriptures, St. John Damascene1 said.
The Sacred Books are of supreme advantage for Christians, Cassiodorus2 affirmed.
The spirit of piety has a nourishment that is spiritual reading. All the masters of asceticism recommend and have beautiful praises for spiritual reading: St. Augustine calls spiritual books his delights, and principal of these his delights was Holy Scripture.
What above all occupies me in my meditations is the Gospel: from it I draw everything necessary for my poor soul. I discover in it ever new lights, mysterious and hidden meanings: and I understand and know by experience that the kingdom of God is within us, so St. Therese of the Child Jesus3 has written.
It is indispensable for one who wants to progress fast and securely in the path of perfection, for one who wants to have as guide a book for spiritual reading. For this purpose, most recommended
are the books of St. Francis de Sales, those of St. Alphonsus, of Ven. Oliér,4 of St. Ignatius, of St. Teresa of Avila, of Scupoli,5 etc. All very wonderful books, indeed, but always human. There is one that stands above all, and which is the source of all the others: the Holy Bible; this is the best book for spiritual reading, this is the clearest fountain from where all the ascetical writers drew their teaching, and their books are nothing but rivulets coming out from this immense sea.
What better book is there to incite the soul to patience, than that of Job? What more effective book than the Song of Songs in order to fire up the soul with love for God and to bring her to prayer?
Aware of this, the Supreme Pontiffs, especially Pius X, Leo XII and the current Pius XI, have very vibrant recommendations that Holy Scripture, especially the Gospel, be read daily.
Here is what Pius X says in a letter of 21 January 1907 to Card. Cassetta:6
From the moment that we have resolved to restore7 everything in Jesus Christ, we could desire nothing better than to introduce among the faithful the habit of reading, not just frequently, but daily the Holy Gospels, since it is precisely this reading that demonstrates and makes us see clearly through what way we can and must attain that desired restoration.
Likewise, Benedict XV, his most worthy successor, writing to the same Card. Cassetta, president of the Pious Society of St. Jerome,8 says that failure in the reading of the Holy Gospels is the cause of the deviations in today's society: Experience teaches, more than what may be needed to mention it,
that the deviations in today's society come from the fact that the life, the doctrine and the works of Jesus Christ have fallen into very deep oblivion, and neither do men care to inspire from them their daily actions; and not only was the Holy Pontiff content to lament such a great evil, but he worked with all his soul so that the reading of the Holy Gospel would return as a daily habit among families led astray by liberalism. He wanted that he himself be the effective president of the Society of St. Jerome and on 8 October 1914, he issued as his second papal document, a magnificent brief, wherein he praises the same Society for the work undertaken as very good in itself and very pleasing to Him. He confirmed and recommended very much the Gruppi del Santo Vangelo (The Holy Gospel Groups) which are a gathering of persons aiming to read, study and meditate on the Holy Gospel; these are holy meetings that even today, through the work of the current Pius XI, are enjoying ever greater development. And the very consoling reawakening9 of religion and of Christian piety in every city and village of Italy in good part is due to this return to the Holy Gospel.
Since piety is the divine life in us, the more we approach the fount, the purer and fresher shall be the water that we shall draw: and so the more spiritual books draw from the Gospel, the more they are effective and useful for souls.
You hear or read so many things concerning ascetics and the spiritual life, but if you take the Bible in hand and open it, you will find there all those truths in all their genuine beauty.
All the spiritual books10 we could liken them to equally many rays of light that take origin, life and warmth from Holy Scripture.
If a soul is lukewarm, does not feel in itself
spiritual warmth, in a word, does not have the spirit of piety, let it take hold of the Bible and read. It will immediately feel its heart burning with holy desires, its mind illumined with a divine light to enable the will to conceive energetic resolutions.
In the world of the spirit, the Gospel is the sun and all the human creatures that come after, are but planets and satellites of planets. (Papini)11
There, in the Holy Gospel, the very loving Heart of Jesus beats: let us go and rest in his heart. He will warm us and make us know what he wants from us.
This is why St. Bernard came out with this very meaningful expression: If I read or write, no book, no writing satisfies me, if I do not read or write the name of Jesus.
Most effective are the novenas and triduums wherein one proposes to read and meditate on a scriptural passage; at times a phrase or a short verse is enough to convert a soul and from lukewarm transform it to fervorous, and even if dead, to raise it up, as it happened to so many: a classic example: St. Augustine who is a convert of Holy Scripture.
Indeed, there are so many books but the main one is the Bible. It is God himself who tells us to read it and to assimilate its teachings. One day, the Lord spoke to Ezekiel and told him: Son of man, eat what is before you then go, speak to the house of Israel. (Ez 3:1ff) The prophet took the book and ate it and his mouth, as Ezekiel himself said, became sweet as honey.
In this let us imitate Mary Most Holy, in her daily reading of the Sacred Scriptures, and we shall have a very solid nourishment and our
spirit shall become strong and robust in the path of goodness.

EXAMPLE. - St. Cyril of Alexandria. He is the most celebrated Doctor and defender of Mary's divine Maternity, the victor of the impious Nestorious who first dared to blaspheme against the Mother of God, Mary Most Holy. St. Cyril is rightly called the Doctor of the Incarnation, since he broadly discussed and proved that Jesus Christ is truly God and Man.
When in the year 431 the Council of Ephesus was convoked, Cyril was designated by Pope Celestine I to open and preside over the Ecumenical Council. The Saint, during the first session, gave a magnificent discourse on the divine maternity of Mary, demonstrating the sweet truth through clear and limpid arguments, interwoven with numerous texts from Holy Scripture, so much so that after the session, all the 198 Bishops convened unanimously signed the condemnation of Nestorius and proclaimed the Divine Maternity.
All the biographers point out an energetic and courageous character in St. Cyril. He is a very vigilant Bishop and pastor so much so that at the first appearance of rapacious wolves among his flock, he knew how to put on guard and in safety his faithful and no heresy, during his episcopate, infiltrated them.
Where did St. Cyril get so much science and energy against the enemies of the Christian faith? Certainly, a good part from Holy Scripture. He read it very often, and his favorite solace was precisely the reading of the Holy Books.
Till now most precious are his commentaries on the books of the Kings, the Psalms, the Proverbs, the Song of Songs, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, the twelve Minor Prophets, the Four Evangelists. Among his so many other works, we remember his very beautiful work to prove that the Most Holy Virgin is truly the Mother of God; that little work is nothing but a collection of the best texts of Sacred Scriptures that prove the legitimacy of this title given to Mary Most Holy.
The feast of this Doctor of Mary is celebrated on 9 February.

LITTLE SACRIFICE. - If we desire special graces, let us propose to make a triduum or a novena, during which to read every day a passage from the Gospel.

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)12


How to prepare for Communion

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you
drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying. If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment; but since we are judged by (the) Lord, we are being disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

(1Cor 11:23-32)


Blessed may you be, O LORD, God of Israel our father, from eternity to eternity. Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power, majesty, splendor, and glory. For all in heaven and on earth is yours; yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty; you are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor are from you, and you have dominion over all. In your hand are power and might; it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all. Therefore, our God, we give you thanks and we praise the majesty of your name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should have the means to contribute so freely? For everything is from you, and we only give you what we have received from you. For we stand before you as aliens: we are only your guests, like all our fathers. Our life on earth is like a shadow that does not abide.
O LORD our God, all this wealth that we have brought together to build you a house in honor of your holy name comes from you and is entirely yours. I know, O my God, that you put hearts to the test and that you take pleasure in uprightness. With a sincere heart I have willingly given all these things, and now with joy I have seen your people here present also giving to you generously.
O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep such thoughts in the hearts and minds of your people forever, and direct their hearts toward you. Give to my son Solomon a wholehearted desire to keep your commandments, precepts, and statutes, that he may carry out all these plans and build the castle for which I have made preparation.

(1Chr 29:10ff)


1 John Damascene (650 ca. - 750 ca., priest, doctor of the Church). In the many areas wherein he exercised his capabilities as writer and orator (dogmatics, exegesis, morals, asceticism, poetry), he did so in perfect harmony with the tendencies proper to his time and with the expectations of the reading public to which he wanted to address himself.

2 Cassiodorus (490 ca. - 583 ca.). A Roman politician and writer. He was probably born in Calabria of a senatorial family of remote Siriac origins. His father was a prefect of the praetorium of Theodoricus, king of the Goths, and Cassiodorus followed the same career. In 535 he tried but failed (in collaboration with Pope Agapitus) to establish a Christian university in Rome. In the year 537 he retired to private life, dedicating himself ever more to study and religion. In the lands of his family (in Squillace) in Calabria he founded a religious community called Vivarium, whose characteristic feature was the acknowledged importance of the intellectual activities of the monks. The Vivarium, although it did not survive beyond the VII century, was important for its preservation of ancient Greek and Latin books and for the creation of a model of monastic life that was to influence later the Benedictine order. Cassiodorus is one of the founders of medieval civilization in the West.

3 Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face (1873-1897), Carmelite, canonized on 17 May 1925; the “most beloved child of history” (Pius XII) was proclaimed doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II on 19 Oct. 1997. Therese's discovery of what will be “an entirely new little way” of sanctity goes back perhaps to the end of 1894. Her encounter with the words of the prophet Isaiah belongs to this period: “As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find comfort.'' (Is 66:13) Ah! Never have most tender, most harmonious words have made my soul joyful. The lift that must raise me till heaven are your arms, Jesus! For this I do not need to grow, on the contrary, I must remain small, and become so ever more.” Therese is doctor of pure grace: she saw that everything depends on the gratuitous Love of the Father. Another great intuition of Therese consists in the discovery of love, starting from the reading of 1Cor: “Love gave me the key of my vocation. I understood that if the Church has a body composed of many members, the most necessary, the most noble organ of all of them is not lacking; I understood that the Church has a heart and this burns with love. I understood that love alone moves the members of the Church... I understood that love encloses all vocations, that love is everything, that it embraces all times and all places; in a word, it is eternal... my vocation is love (Ms B, 3v, in Opere complete, p. 223).
In the original edition of LS the passage quoted above, as the other two respectively of Damascene and Cassiodorus, were placed in the note, out of context. We thought it more opportune to insert them in this section of the text.

4 Jean-Jacques Olier (Paris 1608 - 1657), priest, founder of the Society of St. Sulpice. He studied with the Jesuits and his spiritual director was Vincent de Paul, who assisted him even in the moment of death. For the sharpness of his introspection and the finesse of his sentiment - manifested also in the formation of the young - he can be compared to St. Francis de Sales.

5 Lorenzo Scupoli (Otranto 1530 - Naples 1610), Theatine priest-writer of ascetics since 1577, calumnied and accused for an unknown fault, he was, through a decree of the General Chapter of 1585, reduced to the state of lay brother. His most famous work, Certamen spirituale, appeared anonymous in Venice in 1589. In 1610, a few days after his death, it was released in Bologna for the first time (it was already in its 50th edition) with the author's name. Il combattimento spirituale (The spiritual combat) is a “treatise of spiritual strategy” carried out with an ascetical method that is simple and practical, in 66 chapters of solid doctrine. It aims to lead the reader towards a perfection entirely interior, based on the denial of self and consummated in union with God.

6 Francesco di Paola Cassetta (Roma 1841 - 1919). He studied in the Roman Seminary and graduated in theology and in utroque iure. A priest since 10 August 1865, he wanted to go as a missionary among the non-Christians. Out of obedience he remained in Rome, where he dedicated himself to the education of the youth. He was ordained bishop and in turn he ordained Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII. He was the prefect of the Congregations of the Council and of Studies, and librarian of the Holy Roman Church. Even as a cardinal, he was a generous and ardent promoter of the most modern forms of Catholic activity, having as his ideal in life the effusive love of St. Paul. His rich inheritance from his family, by testament, was placed entirely at the disposition of the Propaganda Fide for the poorest missions.

7 Don Alberione will still say: “There is no other solution for all the questions that are being fomented even today among men than this: Instaurare omnia in Christo. Does not salvation come from there?” (Pr 5, p. 28; Sermons to the Pauline communities - for the canonization of Pius X - 23 May 1954). In April 1960, during the retreat-convention of the Paulines in Ariccia, he will add: “Know better, imitate, pray to and preach the only Master Jesus Christ: in whom everything is unified and recapitulated, omnia instaurare in Christo - In ipso omnia constant - Magister vester unus est Christus” (UPS II, pp. 243-244). A few days earlier, he had said: “The Son of God came to repair the first construction, to restore man and his faculties. For this he restored the mind (he is Truth), restored the will (he is Way), restored the sentiment (he is Life)” (UPS I, p. 369).

8 See note 9 of p. 203.

9 An example of moral and spiritual “reawakening” with a consequent change of life is found on p. 21. Here Don Alberione speaks of a reawakening obtained through a more assiduous reading of the Gospel. La Bibbia nella vita della Chiesa (CEI 1995), in no. 9 says: “In synthesis, we can register three fundamental signs of a promising biblical reawakening among us: a radical and interior renewal of faith, drawn from the fount of the Word of God; the conscious affirmation and assumption of the primacy of the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church; the promotion of a more prompt ecumenical journey sustained by the Scriptures.”

10 “He who reads the divine Book assumes the divine language, speaks the divine language, acquires the divine effectiveness... Many sermons, many books, many exhortations would be much more effective if, instead of man, God spoke” (15 January 1935, Unione Cooperatori Apostolato Stampa, n. 1, p. 3). “Do not look for books of asceticism that foster a sentimental piety, but the Gospel and therefore a solid piety.” (June 1941, IA 1, p. 34)

11 Giovanni Papini (Florence 1881 - 1956). Since his youth he had no patience for conventional studies, he was a voracious reader and a frenetic cultural organizer. His adventurous wanderings from pragmatism to futurism, fascism, and Catholicism are the demonstration of his restless conscience as an intellectual, active in a world that has consumed every certainty and value. The outbreak of the first world war generated in him a profound examination of conscience that ended with his adhesion to official Catholicism. Such conversion was publicized with enormous resonance, as an exemplary result of a manifestly desacralizing intellectual event. With his book La Storia di Cristo, (The Story of Christ) of 1921, he won great international fame. During the last years of his life, a long sickness forced him to immobility and deprived him of the of sight and speech, yet without taking him away from an intense activity as a scholar and writer. - Also this citation of Papini, located in the footnotes, we have thought more opportune to insert in the text.

12 LS shows “Is. XLV, 15-26.” (Is 45:15-26) In the Vulgate ch. 45 of Isaiah has 26 verses, while the new translations have 25: verses 23 and 24 equal verse 23.