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A historical-charismatic survey

Acts of the International Seminar
on "Jesus, the Master"
(Ariccia, October 14-24, 1996)

by Eliseo Sgarbossa ssp



37 Reading between the lines the numerous testimonies of Alberione on the matter (cf. AD 48-57, 60, 89-92; Carissimi in San Paolo, 535-543, etc.), one would notice that that faith and that obedience were other than blind or uncritical. Nonetheless, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, Fr. Alberione wanted to witness once more his adherence to the directives of Pius X: "In the first decade of our century, a period acute with modernism, I felt very much united with the Pope, with profound devotion, by binding myself [to him] with a special commitment" (Reply to Cardinal Antoniutti, 4 April 1964). (Text)

38 Regarding the case of Fogazzaro and of his novel (published in 1905), see L. Caronti, Fogazzaro, Subiaco e "Il Santo," E. P., Alba, 1989. (Text)

39 "A great disturbance and disorientation came through the rapid spread of modernism: in literature, in art, in the ecclesiastical discipline, in journalism, theology, philosophy, history, [sacred] Scriptures, etc. Many, especially among the young clergy, went astray" (AD 51). (Text)

40 "The school became the field where unbelievers and Catholics argued over souls" (AD 54). – On this topic, cf. AD 49-55. (Text)

41 For this topic as for other biographical data and the context within which Giacomo Alberione lived and worked, consult the biographies published to date, especially Luigi Rolfo, Don Alberione, Appunti per una biografia, E. P., 1974, and Giuseppe Barbero, Il Sacerdote Giacomo Alberione, un uomo - un’idea, SSP Rome, 2nd edition, 1991, and the studies promoted by the Centro SpiritualitÓ Paolina. (Text)

42 Scientific positivism and liberal culture, the historiography of Renan and Loisy, the nihilistic philosophy and the decadent narrative: from the "titanism" of Nietzsche ("Destiny belongs to the Superior Man") to the socialist humanism to the romantic vision of the Hero dear to Lord Byron (cf. Manfred and Harold), to R. M. Rilke ("The Hero gathers the flowers from all the gardens and moves on without having to consider anyone") and, in Italy, to G. D’Annunzio. The "Christian" representative of such a culture was Antonio Fogazzaro (1842-1911), author of the trilogy Piccolo mondo antico, Piccolo mondo moderno and Il Santo, published between 1895 and 1905. (Text)

43 More than a "diary", it is a small collection of intimate notes, or examinations of conscience, of various written pieces made between 1901 to 1906, published posthumously with the title, "Sono creato per amare Dio." The first written piece, of "confessions", bore the Latin title, "Homo... multis repletus miseriis" (cf. Gb 14:1). (Text)

44 "Embittered soul... he cannot see but suicide! Unhappy! Vile!" (SC 10). (Text)

45 "And let death be a sacrifice of expiation" (SC 95). (Text)

46 "Save me, O Mary, from so terrible state, disgusting mud, indeed" (SC 11). (Text)

47 "The past is nothing but a web of misfortunes, iniquities, dishonesty, a painful crown of faults, of deceit. Everything reproves me... Vanitas vanitatum" (SC 72). (Text)

48 "And the present?... I am unhappy" (SC 73). (Text)

49 "Years turbid for my nature, fatal for my instinct which was longing for praise, for greatness... passed. The illusions followed illusions, chasm after chasm..." (SC 93). (Text)

50 "I have spent the best of my energies in holocaust to the devil; [and] have I as if paid you to the devil?" (SC 101). (Text)

51 "And man’s heart is a fallen nobleman...; he is a son of the prince who from the throne devastated in the dust, but he is horrified by the dust" (SC 94). (Text)

52 "Shall I not consecrate at least the rest [of my years] to God?... O Mary, intercede for me; Mater misercordie, help, defend and protect. Show me the way... Salva me, fons pietatis" (SC 101). In this autobiographical picture are evident, even if unnoticed, the literary suggestions of Faust and I dolori del giovane Werther of J. W. Goethe, of the Sepolcri and of the Ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis of Ugo Foscolo, which in their turn were provoking several suicides among the youth. (Text)

53 Cf. Meditation of 6 November 1910 addressed to the seminarians of Alba. (Text)

54 For the clerics of Alba, cf. A. Vigolungo, "Nova et Vetera". Il Can. Francesco Chiesa," EP 1961, 108-109: "It is said that numerous candles were burned at night and also by day in the cellars of the Seminary, in the reading of new pages of Bonomelli and Semeria, and perhaps also of some dubious pages of the early Loisy"; cf. also L. Rolfo, Il buon Soldato..., op. cit., 104-107. For the letters of the Romagna clerics writing to Fogazzaro, it would be instructing to leaf through the yearly collection of the bulletin of the Seminary of Rimini, during the first decade of the 1900’s, of which I could read an anthology on a prior commemorative issue of which I have unfortunately lost track. (Text)

55 Aside from the archbishop of Munchen, Wilhelm von Ketteler, whose name appeared frequently in different contexts, the Catholic authors most read and listened to were then Card. Pietro Maffi (1858-1931), archbishop of Pisa; the lawyer Count G. G. Paganuzzi (1841-1923), president of the "Opera dei Congressi"; professor Giuseppe Toniolo (1845-1918), sociologist and economist at the university of Pisa; Nicol˛ Rezzara (1848-1915), etc. For further information on these names it is possible to consult Aa. Vv. Dizionario Storico del Movimento cattolico in Italia, ed. Marietti, Turin 1984. (Text)

56 Cf. San Paolo, January 1958; CISP 1218-1225. Regarding this subject matter see recent study by R. F. Esposito, Il Giubileo secolare del 1899-1900 e l’enciclica "Tametsi futura," in Palestra del Clero, March-April 1996, 169-196. Hefty documentation. (Text)

57 Ricardo Tabarelli de Fatis (Trent, 1851 - Rome, 1909), a religious of the Stigmata, doctor in Letters at the Padova university and of Theology in Rome, member of the Accademia di San Tommaso in Parma, professor of Philosophy and Theology in different pontifical colleges (he had among his students Eugenio Pacelli and Angelo Roncalli, future popes), was known for his clarity of exposition and for his decisive anti-modernist stand. (Text)

58 Some expressions taken from the first pages are significant: "Christus itaque Dominus ac Redemptor non tam sacerdotem et regem sed et humani generis magistrum esse opportuit..." Hence in the gospels he proclaims himself a number of times Master, Light of the world, Way, Truth and Life; for this he sends his apostles to teach the nations (gospel and Pauline references); but a characteristic proper to the magisterium of Christ is "quod ejus doctrina sit necessario lex mentium ex ipsa natura rei, cui contradicere absque salutis jactura summaeque impietatis nota nemini fas sit. Est enim magisterium Christi ejus qui est ipsa Veritas. Magisterium autem ipsius veritatis nequit omnis mens non esse subiecta. Veritus etenim sicut causa et finis ita absolute domina est cujusvis mentis... Itaque Christus qui est ipsa veritas est etiam ultima omnium mentium ipsisque intima ratio..." (Manuscript kept in the General Archives of the Stigmata Fathers, Verona). (Text)

59 Heir, by foundational charism, of an ancient tradition of struggle against the desecration of culture, Fr. Tabarelli bore witness to the passion for Christ "only Master," who had given the spirit to its founder, St. Gaspare Bertoni, restorer of the Catholic school in the Lombardia-Veneto areas after the French revolutionary wave. On this saint and on the tradition of the Stigmata Fathers, to whom numerous recurrent expressions in the preaching of Alberione have reference, one could see the weighty study of Fr. Nello Dalle Vedove, Vita e pensiero del beato Gaspare Bertoni agli albori dell’800 veronese, Postulazione generale Stimmatini, Rome, 1975. (Text)

60 Cf. G. Barbero, Il Sacerdote G. Alberione..., op. cit., 131ff. (Text)

61 We shall see later the determining importance of the Eucharistic Visit in the spiritual development of Fr. Alberione as well as of the devotion to Jesus Master (cf. footnote 23 and CISP 1125). (Text)

62 "Come here, to this school, O Christian. You say: ‘I am a Christian,’ well, this is the school of Christians: the grotto. But who is the Master here? It is Jesus Christ, the eternal Wisdom. – And which is his teaching chair? Here it is: the manger. – Open your mouth, o Divine Master: Jesus speaks and says... Blessed are the poor in spirit..." (cf. Q 043 [1910] 157). (Text)

63 Fraternal charity in fact bears witness to good "disciples," and he who better practices it – as St. Francis de Sales – has been an "excellent student of so great a Master". Those who do not practice it – like the young sons of Zebedee – do not know "whose Master are they disciples." (Q 022 [1909] 75). (Text)

64 Among the miracles the resurrection of the son of the widow of Naim is pointed out. (Text)

65 Cf. Indice e Schemi..., 23/12 and 79/41. (Text)

66 Be "affectionate to Jesus Christ as the disciples were to their Master. – Hence, love him – and do not sin" (Q 020 [1909] 10). (Text)

67 Along this line, Fr. Alberione cited the example of a boy who loved books very much: a probable autobiographical allusion. (Text)

68 "...That Jesus Christ has established the Pope on earth as infallible teacher of truth should fill our heart with great consolation [...] Millions of idolaters, non-Christians in general: poor unhappy ones outside the true religion... millions of heretics who do not know what truth to believe, whom to obey: they contradict themselves, they fall in many errors: only [we] Catholics have an infallible teacher of truth in the Pope who tells us what we ought to believe and do to please God. The Pope is our guide, our teacher of truth and morality... When he approves one thing, we know for sure that it is pleasing to God [...] And what does so much zeal among Supreme Pontiffs mean, among these men placed by the Holy Spirit to support the Church of God...?" (Q 043 [1910] 4). (Text)

69 "It was Pentecost of 1862 and more than 500 bishops, come to Rome from all the parts of the world for the canonization of the Japanese martyrs, surrounded with veneration the throne of Pius IX. It was a heavenly sight! They placed on his feet a magnificent address. And here are the words: O Holy Father, you are the good Shepherd, you are our Master, you are our leader, you are our head. You are the center of unity and the light of peoples; you are the rock, the foundation and the strength of the Church. You are the impregnable rock of truth, the watchful sentinel against all sorts of traps. Your voice is a priestly trumpet whose sound echoes throughout the earth. In you it is Peter who speaks; it is Jesus Christ who commands. O Holy Father, we are one mind and one heart with you; we condemn all that you condemn; we are ready to follow you to prison or to death..." (Q 053 [1911-1912] 31). (Text)

70 "These things and experiences, mediated before the Blessed Sacrament changed his persuasion: always, alone and in everything, the ‘romanitÓ’. Everything was for him school and orientation" (AD 56). For the same reason he remained faithful to a series of readings which would keep him updated on the pontifical documents and to the orientations of the Holy See: "...the CiviltÓ Cattolica from 1906, then l’Osservatore Romano, Acts of the Holy See, encyclicals, from Leo XIII, were for him a continuous source of nourishment" (AD 67). (Text)

71 "To draw more directly from the source" (cf. AD 114-116). (Text)

72 The commented edition of both are now about to be published. (Text)

73 Appunti di Teologia Pastorale [ATP] (Practice of the ministry of priesthood for young clergy), 1st edition typewritten and mimeographed, Alba, 1 August 1912, xiv-484; 2nd revised edition - corrected - expanded. Turin Marietti Editore, 1915 (cf. G. Barbero, 198-199). – We quote from the second edition. (Text)

74 Teol. G. Alberione, La donna associata allo zelo sacerdotale, Per il Clero e per la Donna [DA], Alba, Scuola Tipografica Piccolo Operaio, 1915. – Regarding the time of writing, see AD 109. On the same topic, cf. Aa. Vv., Donne e uomini oggi al servizio del Vangelo, Seminario di Studio su "La donna associata...". C.S.P., Rome, 1993. (Text)

75 In the context of devotion to promote in the Parish, that of the Sacred Heart is suggested as it offers the occasion to meditate and preach on "the precepts, the virtues and the counsels of our supreme Master" (ATP 317). (Text)

76 Let it be borne in mind that in 1912 the Italian version of Enrico Svoboda’s book, La cura d’anime nelle grandi cittÓ came out and that from then to 1915 Fr. Alberione held in the Seminary classes in Sacred Eloquence for the catechesis and preaching, to be executed either vocally or in written form (cf. AD 82-86). (Text)

77 Notice the persistent return to the concreteness and the completeness of the magisterium of Jesus. (Text)

78 "...as far back as 1911, he had begun writing a book, The Woman Associated with Priestly zeal, to show how much woman can do in collaborating with the priesthood..." (AD 109). (Text)

79 Cf. DA 167-168; AD 109, 253, 267 and Maria Discepola e Maestra, written in 1959. (Text)

80 Cf. DA chap. II: "Lo zelo della donna nella famiglia," 118-151. (Text)

81 "[In the education of children] what a mother can do is the most fundamental part. She must inculcate on her child a profound persuasion of this truth: we have been created for heaven; because of original sin we are inclined towards evil; but we must resist such an inclination with the help of God which is obtained through prayer; sin is a great evil; the sacraments are the channels of the Lord’s graces, Jesus Christ is our only true Master" (DA 124-125). (Text)

82 Cf. DA chap. III, art. II, 159ff. (Text)

83 "In 1913 a step was taken toward the realization of his desires. The course in civil history in the philosophy curriculum and even more Church history in the theology curriculum gave him the opportunity to point out the ills and the needs of the nations, the fears and the hopes, especially the need for undertakings and means in keeping with the present century" (AD 101). Furthermore: "Action and prayer directed him toward a Christian social apostolate aimed at healing governments, schools, laws, families, relations among classes and nations. So that Christ the Way, the Truth and the Life will reign in the world..." (AD 63). (Text)

84 Cf. Le Preghiere della PSSP., Alba 1922: in particular, "O Immacolata Maria...". (Text)

85 In his biography, written by Fr. Alberione in 1919 (a year after the boy’s death), two short expressions of Maggiorino, dating back to some imprecise date between October 1916 and June 1918, are reported. These expressions witness that the "devotion" to Jesus Master was then already present in the "Scuola Tipografica" of Alba. "He considered the House (of St. Paul) as the path to his ideal and listen how he speaks in one meditation done in writing and alone: "Who is the head [of the community]? – It is Jesus, the Divine Master. – Whom must we obey? – Jesus, represented by our Sir Director" (p. 37). The second expression is one of the "maxims" transcribed on his notebook: "The Divine Master teaches us and grants his devotees: Humility, Obedience, Charity, Continence, Poverty, Penance." (no. 20, 1932 edition, 59). (Text)

86 Cf. G. Giaccardo, Pagine dal diario, 9 November 1916: "The conference of Msgr. Pasi on the good press has profoundly moved me" because "the voice of a bishop has in itself the "ite, docete omnes gentes." And further: "...I see clearly: I shall be an apostle of the good press." (Text)

       Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever

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