Okay. That’s one of those titles you see in Google Ads whose purpose is to gain click-throughs (and money). Usually you’re disappointed with the “revelation.” But in this case, it is true. Blessed James Alberione did, in fact, reveal his secret in 1919. First, let me tell you how it happened.
Can you imagine someone coming up to you when you were fourteen or fifteen years old and telling you that you must become a saint? And not just any saint…but a great saint!
You might think of the statues you see in the Church. How do you become like Mary or Joseph or the Little Flower or St. Rita. You don’t even know much about them. Your mind is probably on a hundred other things than becoming a saint.
Well this happened in the early days of the Society of St. Paul, on January 25, 1919. It was the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul and Blessed James Alberione called together the young boys who had followed him in order to give them a conference. It was only four and a half years after the Society had been founded, and this young priest spoke to them of the great horizons that were before them, of the realities that were to inform all they did.
Blessed Timothy Giaccardo—the first priest of the Society of St. Paul—was there that night, and it is from his hand that we have the words of Blessed James Alberione to his first followers, as recorded in his personal notebook:
“Along the way of sanctity one can progress by one, by five or even by ten, as when pedaling a bike by a complete turn of the pedal one can go forward one yard or even up to ten yards. I have taught you how to multiply the time of study; now you must learn to multiply the speed on the road to sanctity.
“You must accomplish this ‘multiplication’ by making an effort. You must earn the tenfold by making one examination of conscience; check the fruit, make the progress in sanctity that you would make with ten examinations, the progress in one Communion that you would make in ten Communions.
“But be very attentive to what I say. Open your ears well and do not sleep with your heart. Stay awake. In every effort, you must progress tenfold. And why this? Because the Lord calls you to a very high sanctity, which you cannot attain solely through your own efforts and with ordinary graces…. You must surpass in holiness the priests and brothers who live in monasteries.
“But the Theologian is mad! (Blessed James Alberione was called “the Theologian.”) I am not mad. When Alberione the priest speaks he could be mad, but when your Father speaks, as I am now, I tell you I am not mad. You must be holier…because God has placed within you a priceless treasure, a treasure which the angels envy: the vocation to the apostolate of the good press.
“You are at the foot of a great mountain; ascend it, contemplate your horizon: it is the whole world. When a ball is very smooth and round, and rests on a well-polished marble plane, it touches it at only one point and all the other parts of the ball weigh upon that point. A million, three million, ten million souls…weigh upon your consciences. This is why you must be very saintly.
“It’s a matter of saving many souls, of saving ten million or of saving only one million.
“But the Theologian is mad to speak to us tonight about ten million souls. And I tell you that a good journalist saves even more. Lift up your eyes, look on high at the great tree whose top you cannot see: You are only at the root of it. Our present House is nothing but the roots of this very great tree. Oh, if only you understood the treasure which is in you, what the Lord is calling you to. You would all be full of life. You would not leave me in peace any more; that is, you would not leave the Lord in peace. You would always be around Him begging: ‘But I still need this; I still need that. Grant me this grace, too….’
“But you will say, where does the Theologian want to lead us tonight? I want to lead you up on the mount of perfection. Do you understand how saintly you must be? You must have the spirit of St. Paul. I tell you, that you are to be holy, as God is holy. It must be that way. This is why in every effort you must earn tenfold. In one day you must progress as you would in ten days, and in ten years you must become as holy as you would in one hundred years.
“But how is this to be done? In what does this multiplication consist? We are full of defects and miseries. We must humble ourselves and recognize that we are full of misery.
“If we were to see our soul just once, we would faint away. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who was already a mystic and had received many apparitions from the Sacred Heart, fainted when God let her see her soul once! Let us humiliate ourselves, because on our own we cannot make progress. A good, energetic, resolute and generous will is needed to become saints, great saints. To become the saints God wants us to be, as I told you, we need a proven will, resolute in making every effort and every sacrifice.
“This is the first means.
“The second means is that we not confide in ourselves and in our own efforts, but rather that we pray placing all our trust in God.
“We must believe that God can free us from our defects; believe that God wants us to be very holy; believe my words, that God wants to give you this grace; believe that each of your efforts will produce fruit tenfold; believe that for each act of piety on your part, God will grant you the graces He would grant for ten acts.
“This is true; God wants it. Believe it.
“He who believes will run on the road to sanctity, up the mount of perfection. One who trusts only in his own efforts will advance slowly, and only with much effort. He will take one step forward and trip. He will attain a victory, then he will fall. He will rise again and fall again, going ahead with great fatigue.
“We must count more on God, count on Him for health, for work, for learning quickly and well, only for the glory of God. Count on God for study, in order to learn fast and four times as much. Count on God especially for piety.
“The faith of some extends only to believing that God will not let us lack bread; but this is foolishness. The Lord is not pleased with this and He will reprove us. Does the reign of God perhaps consist only in eating and drinking? It is necessary that we have more faith in our sanctification. We are still very far from having such faith. Not one of you already has the real faith that is needed…. It is the faith that moves mountains. God…calls you to a very high sanctity, but He wants to act Himself, because our House lives on Providence.
“The greatest offense that God receives from our House is lack of trust in Him. He shows that it is He who does all things; we are stupid not to trust Him….Jesus is the Resurrection; He raises us from the tomb of our defects. He is the life which sustains us on the path of spiritual progress. He said: ‘Truly I say to you whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you.’ Twice Jesus solemnly promised that His Father will give us anything we ask because of His merits. Now God wants to give us sanctity and He wants us to ask Him for it. We must go before the Tabernacle, before Jesus, and tell Him not to fail in His promises, ask Him to give us…pray and pray…. You say: I have many defects; I still have this and that vice. What does it matter? I will pray well to Jesus and Jesus will deliver me. I am lacking these and those virtues. What does it matter? I will pray well and Jesus will give them to me.
“One who embraces such faith, will find himself totally changed in one year. You will be amazed. How was I able to overcome that defect, to acquire that virtue? Yes, but ‘not only I, but the grace of God with me.’ Courage, therefore, aim for where God calls you. Good will, no faith in ourselves but total faith in God and in prayer…. One who does this will see himself a changed person in a year’s time. Jesus changed St. Paul in a moment. This must be our conversion on this feast.” (excerpted from James Alberione: A Marvel for Our Times, page 41-44)
You can pray the Pact or Secret of Success yourself:
Our Secret of Success
Jesus, Divine Teacher,
you call us to follow you
and to spread the Good News of your Gospel to the ends of the earth.
To undertake such a task, we must be holy as our Father is holy.
Yet we are weak, unaware, incapable, and inadequate in so many ways.
You instead are the Way and the Truth and the Life, the Resurrection,
our one and supreme good.
We trust in your promise: “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20).
We have faith in you alone who assure us,
“Whatever you ask the Father in my name, you will receive” (see Jn 14:13).
For our part, we promise to seek only and always your Kingdom,
your glory, and peace to all people.
We trust that you will give us all we need: grace, discernment,
and the means to do good in the world.
Multiply our spiritual and apostolic efforts, Lord.
We do not doubt you, but we fear our inconstancy and weakness.
Therefore, good Master, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles,
extend to us the mercy you used with the Apostle Saint Paul,
so that faithfully imitating you here on earth,
we may be companions of the saints in heavenly glory.
Based on the prayer Secret of Success by Blessed James Alberione
(from Live Christ! Give Christ! Prayers for the New Evangelization)