Feast of Blessed James Alberione (Nov. 26, 2007)
Fr. Edmund Lane, SSP, Staten Island, NEW YORK
In his lifetime, our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, whose feast we celebrate today, was driven by two great loves. The first of these was certainly for Jesus, our Divine Master, the Way, the Truth and the Life. In fact, he dedicated himself to the Lord with such an implacable determination to grow into a truly profound intimacy with Jesus through countless hours of prayer and sacrifice following the example of the apostle St. Paul that, at the end of his life, he was able to say of himself as did St.Paul, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me." On the one hand Father Alberione was drawn to a deep contemplative life, and on the other hand his great love for souls inspired and energized him to do something special for the people of the 20th century. It was this second love that drove him to found such a wide variety of religious groups to provide a variety of services in the Church for the sake of the Gospel in our times. The very thought that there were men and women in the world who did not yet know Jesus or who did not know him well enough filled him with a holy anxiety that became the stimulus behind his priestly zeal. They had to be reached somehow and they had to be reached effectively and quickly. The five religious congregations, four secular institutes and one association of lay cooperators for which he was responsible made it possible to do so by using the swiftest and most efficacious means of communicating the word of God to the men and women of today: the press, first of all, then radio, television, films and filmstrips, records, tapes, CDs, DVDs and now the Internet. All of this, of course, presumed the underpinning of prayer. Prayer and the spiritual life were the pillars of his whole existence and were likewise the pillars of the institutes he founded. "Looks are deceiving," could certainly be applied to him. He was very small of stature and, by nature, almost shy. But he made up for that by his dedication to hard work which he inherited from his family and by his exceptional courage. He was an extraordinarily effective leader, an unbelievable achiever and builder. But he never rested on his laurels or even took note of them. There was always more to do. At the same time, he would be the first to say that "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it." The things that he accomplished in his lifetime— now recognized by the Church in having beatified him — show unquestionably the fact that the hand of God was with him all the way. Reviewing his life on this his feast day fills us with a sense of wondrous admiration. Many of us here were so very privileged to have seen him, to have known him, to have been a part of his life and dreams and, therefore, recognize the need to praise, adore and glorify God the Father in a special way this day, the fourth time following his beatification on April 27, 2003 by Pope John Paul II that we have been able to celebrate his feast. Let us thank God for raising up men and women of great faith in every age to open up new paths for the Gospel in order to bring his salvation to the whole world. At the same time let us ask God for the grace we will need to live up to the calling we have received to follow in our Founder's footsteps. May we do so now as we continue with our celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of this Mass.