Alexandrina de Balasar
I love you so much, so much that,
apart from my most Holy Mother and my adoptive Father St. Joseph,
Words of Jesus to Alexandrina in 13/11/1937
If these words of Jesus to Blessed Alexandrina are to be understood literally - and there are many others with a similar import – she is a very singular figure of sanctity. Therefore, in these current times when youth is becoming alienated from the Church, it is quite appropriate to meditate on the years of her youth.
Some will object that everything has already been said on the matter, that Fathers Marian Pinho and Umberto Pasquale, the Signoriles and other scholars have already investigated whatever there was to investigate. But, in spite of that claim, it is still worthwhile to take a closer look at those years.
If Alexandrina’s youth brings concepts that evoke facets of her personality to mind, exuberance, psychological equilibrium, humanity and integration into parish life, will be surely be among them.
Exuberance is manifested in her love of activity: she is a tomboy who prefers to walk on the tops of walls than on the pavements, who likes to climb the trees, who prefers games of combat, even with boys, who, even in girlhood, could work like an adult.
Her equilibrium and humanity give her a sense of proportion in her activities, and in relations with other people, such as in games with those of her own age.
Integration into parish life, also, we believe to have been a decisive element, because Alexandrina’s faith was a practical faith: she taught catechism, sung in the choir and practised charities which on most occasions nobody saw.
From a purely human viewpoint, a successful woman was in the making here, and perhaps it was this that caught the attention of the young men who approached her seeking her affection, or even a marriage commitment.
But the path that God had reserved for her seems almost ironic: the exuberant tomboy is destined to endure the “maximum penalty” of 30 years under arrest in a bed, inside a small cell; the comely and nubile girl will go on submit herself fearlessly and with passion, not to any young suitor, but to Jesus and his heavenly Mother.
Camile Castello Branco opens his book Amor de Perdição (Ruinous Love) with words on its hero, who is condemned to banishment, that can well be quoted here by the way of the tragedy that, from the age of 14, threatened Alexandrina and that had 14th April1925 as its staring point:
Eighteen years! The golden and scarlet sun rising in the morning of life! The freshness of the heart that does not yet consider the consequential fruits, and that all is embalmed in the perfume of flowers! Eighteen years! The love of that age! […] And banished from one’s native land, from love and from family!
In 1925, Alexandrina was not eighteen years old, but twenty one, she did not go into banishment, but she saw a thick curtain close over her legitimate hopes of young womanhood.
In Figlia de Dolore, Madre di Amore, the Signoriles made these discerning comments:
This incident (the jump and its consequences), humanly, is a tragedy that leaves her paralyzed; but from the divine view point it is in the opposite; it is the call to a mission of extraordinary scope for the salvation of very many souls. Indeed Alexandrina will become one of the most powerful soul-victims who, following the road indicated, or rather, travelled, by Christ, immolate themselves for love. Everything is in separating the good from the evil, with the power of love. Alexandrina says that she wants to be “a daughter of pain and a mother of love”: she wants this, and she obtains it in a supreme degree!
If we observe carefully, we will see that she was being prepared for the mission that awaited her: at age of twelve she was at the death’s door, having fallen from an oak. Between the jump and the complete paralysis, seven years passed but during all this time she was being groomed for a life of intimacy with her heavenly Mother and the Eucharistic Jesus, who would be her real loves.
There is a fundamental brotherhood that embraces the men and women of all places and all times, and that of course includes young people. Even though having been born over a century ago, in a rural environment, it is because of the spiritual forces that were to ennoble her life that Alexandrina can be an encouragement and example for today’s youth. If they seem to live in a way opposed to the way Alexandrina lived, needing to regulate their behaviour to accommodate continual activity, to be so cosmopolitan that they are unaware of their native country, products of cities living with a thirst for “pleasure”, that is not the point. It is just this that youth needs - to be reintegrated into parish life, to rediscover prayer, healthy joy and the love of activity. They need a compass point that gives meaning to life, that provides the impetus to fight against the current laxity and hedonism, a motive to pursue heroism. And here Alexandrina is a perfect example.
In the following story, that she tells in her Autobiography, Alexandrina is literally a tomboy, even if very young and, by the way, in perfect agreement with the brief picture of her that is painted by Gabriele Amorth, “an attractive girl, with her long black hair, black vibrant eyes and luminous smile”:
When I was sixteen years old, and already sick, I went to the house of a neighbour where my sister worked sewing. On seeing a boy’s suit, I put it on and I appeared in front of my sister and the owner of the house. They broke into laughter. Later the owner of the house said me:
- Look, go directly across the road, because my children and my husband are trimming the grapevines there.
I thought that they would recognize me, but I went anyway. The men did not recognize me and, very astonished, stopped working, to see if they knew the gentleman. At the window of the house, my sister and the owner were convulsed with laughter.
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