Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The city of Rome, Italy, was fast becoming a Catholic center, and there resided Pope Liberius, the Holy Father, Successor of the Holy Apostle, St. Peter. Among his loyal subjects were a noble patrician, John, and his wife. This couple was very holy and devout.
They were not blessed with children, so it was their desire that their worldly goods should be given to the Mother of God. They discussed this with Pope Liberius and he counseled them to commend this holy intention to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fervently, they besought her to show them her desire by some sign.
During the night of August 5th, the Virgin Mary appeared to John and his wife, and also to Pope Liberius, telling them to construct a church in her honor on the crest of the Esquiline Hill. As a sign of her will, she told them, they would find it covered with snow.
Snow is rare in Rome. When it falls, it is a day of rejoicing, and the populace delights in the beautiful sight of trees and shrubs blanketed with a soft mantle of white. Many winters pass without the least trace of a snowfall.
Imagine the great excitement of a snowfall during the first days of the hot month of August. That is exactly what happened on the night of August 5th, 352. In the morning, almost all of Rome thronged to the Esquiline Hill as the news spread that snow had fallen there during the sultry night, outlining the precise shape of the church requested by Our Lady. John, his wife, and Pope Liberius, told the crowd the snow was a favor from the Immaculate Queen of Heaven. When the people learned this, they shouted over and over again, "Our Lady of the Snows!"
The crest of the Esquiline hill, therefore, became the site of a church dedicated to the Mother of God, just as she wished. This was ancient Rome, early in Christianity, only 352 a.d. - almost sixteen hundred and fifty years ago! This was the origin of the title: Our Lady of the Snows.
The church built in her honor is known today as the Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore), because it is the Mother of all churches throughout the world dedicated to our Heavenly Queen. This church in Rome is the original Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. In honor of Pope St. Liberius (who suffered exile during the Arian heresy), it is also called the "Liberian Basilica."
The altar of Our Lady's Basilica contains the relics of the manger crib of Our Divine Lord, which St. Helena brought back from Jerusalem with the True Cross. The image honored as Our Lady of the Snows is a venerable painting of the Madonna and Child in Greek style, attributed to the physician-Evangelist, St. Luke. Relics of many apostles and saints, as well as the body of St. Matthew and the head of St. Luke rest in this favored sanctuary.
The Greatest Marian Church throughout History. Down through the sixteen centuries since the first construction of the Basilica, pilgrims from all regions of Christendom have made Saint Mary Major one of the most popular churches in the world. Our Lady of the Snows has found pleasure in showering down countless blessings upon her children who invoke her under this particular title.
Throughout the annals of Church History, we find many a Saint greatly devoted to this magnificent Church of Our Lady.
The Popes of the past have had a tender devotion towards the Madonna of the Esquiline, and have tried to outdo one another in enriching this Mother Church dedicated to her honor. The present magnificent edifice was constructed in the fifth century by Pope Sixtus III. The compartments of the intricate ceiling were gilded with the first gold brought from America by the devout Catholic explorer, Christopher Columbus. St. Gregory the Great turned to Our Lady during the devastating black plague in Rome in 597, and had her miraculous image carried in procession from St. Mary Major to St. Peter's Basilica; and St. Michael appeared in the sky to indicate the end of the pestilence. The tomb of Pope St. Pius V lay for centuries in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, where St. Ignatius Loyola said his first Mass (until, tragically, this shrine was torn out of the Basilica by John Paul II). Eugenio Pacelli (the future Pope Pius XII), also said his first Mass at the altar of Our Lady of the Snows in 1899. It is obvious why She is frequently referred to as the "Madonna of the Popes." Many other examples can be taken from the lives of the Popes and Saints who lived in Rome, manifesting their tender devotion to St. Mary Major, the "Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows." St. Stanislaus Kostka even used to turn in his cell to pray facing St. Mary Major.
Thus, has this beautiful title come down from Christian antiquity.
One lovely custom of olden times has come down even to our era. During Mass and Vespers each year on the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows (Aug. 5), the glorious anniversary of the origin of the Basilica is celebrated with pomp and splendor. Recalling the miraculous fall of snow that indicated the site of this Mother Church of Mary, a shower of rose petals, jasmine, and other white flowers are let to fall from the ceiling at the words: "He sendeth His snow like wool..."
The white jasmine symbolizes the purity and innocence of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The way the flowers are scattered from above suggests the manner in which Our Lady showers her graces on all souls, but in a particular manner upon those who honor her under the title of Our Lady of the Snows.
Throughout the thirty-some years of our apostolate, Our Lady has manifested herself under this special title in ways especially dear to those who cherish the providential significance of this wonderful title of the Immaculate Queen of Heaven; and we look forward to her continued protection and guidance, safe beneath the white flowing mantle of her heavenly grace.
Our Lady of the Snows, Immaculate Queen of the Universe, from this privileged sanctuary, Thou has bestowed so many countless graces and pledges of love upon the hearts and souls of millions. O Mother, from this cradle of Christianity, this Mother Church of all churches, deign to shower forth the graces of thine Immaculate Heart upon the remnant Faithful throughout the world, wherever they may be, and grant them the graces of a childlike love and unwavering fidelity to the holy truths of our Faith. Grant, good Mother, to the faithful Bishops of the Church the grace to defend Her Sacred Teachings, and to persevere courageously against all the enemies of the Holy Church. Amen.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI does not want the faithful receiving Communion in their hand nor does he want them standing to receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. According to Vatican liturgist, Monsignor Guido Marini, the pope is trying to set the stage for the whole church as to the proper norm for receiving Communion for which reason communicants at his papal Masses are now asked to kneel and receive on the tongue.
The Holy Father's reasoning is simple: "We Christians kneel before the Blessed Sacrament because, therein, we know and believe to be the presence of the One True God." (May 22, 2008)
According to the pope the entire Church should kneel in adoration before God in the Eucharist. "Kneeling in adoration before the Eucharist is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday and today" (May 22, 2008)
The pope's action is in accord with the Church's 2000 year tradition and is being done in order to foster a renewed love and respect for the Eucharist which presently is being mocked and treated with contempt. The various trends and innovations of our time (guitar liturgy, altar girls, lay ministers, Communion in the hand) have worked together to destroy our regard for the Eucharist, thus advancing the spiritual death of the church. After all, the Eucharist is the very life and heartbeat of the Mystical Body around which the entire Church must revolve.
Kneeling also coincides with the Church's centuries old ordinance that only the consecrated hands of a priest touch the Body of Christ in Holy Communion. "To priests alone has been given power to consecrate and administer to the faithful, the Holy Eucharist." (Council of Trent) This teaching is beautifully expressed by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica: "Because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament."
It is for reason that Pope Paul VI in his May 1969 pastoral letter to the world's bishops reaffirmed the Church's teaching on the reception of Communion, stating that: "This method on the tongue must be retained." (Memoriale Domini) This came in response to the bishops of Holland who started Communion in the hand in defiance of the centuries old decree from the Council of Rouen (650 A.D.) where this practice was condemned as sacrilegious. "Do not put the Eucharist in the hands of any layperson, but only in their mouths." To date this prohibition has never been overturned legally.
Today Communion in the hand is carried on illegally and has become a major tool of the enemy to destory the Faith throughout the world. For this practice serves no other purpose than to warp our conception of Jesus Christ and nourish a contempt for the sacred mysteries. It's no wonder St. Basil referred to Communion in the hand as "a grave fault."
That is to say, Communion in the hand is not tied with Catholic tradition. This practice was first introduced to the Church by the heretical Arians of the 4th century as a means of expressing their belief that Christ was not divine. Unfortunately, it has served to express the same in our time and has been at the very heart of the present heresy and desecration that is rampant throughout the universal Church. If we have 'abuse' problems today it is because we're abusing the Sacrament - it's backfiring on us!
Thanks to Communion in the hand, members of satanic cults are now given easy access to come into the Church and take the Host so that they bring it back to their covens where it is abused and brutalized in the ritualistic Black Mass to Satan. They crush the Host under their shoes as a mockery to the living God, and we assist it with our casual practice? Amongst themselves the satanists declare that Communion in the hand is the greatest thing that ever happened to them, and we do nothing to stop it?
Hence, the Holy Father is doing his part to try to purge the Church of abuse and we as members of Christ are called upon to assist him. For your encouragement we include the following quotation from Cardinal Llovera, the new prefect for the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments speaking to Life Site News on July 22, 2009: "It is the mission of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments to work to promote Pope Benedict's emphasis on the traditional practices of liturgy, such as reception of Communion on the tongue while kneeling."
Also worth considering is the recent decree from Cardinal Caffarra, the Archbishop of Bologna Italy, forbidding the practice of Communion in the hand: "Many cases of profanation of the Eucharist have occurred, profiting by the possibility to receive the consecrated Bread on one’s palm of the hand... Considering the frequency in which cases of irreverent behavior in the act of receiving the Eucharist have been reported, we dispose that starting from today in the Metropolitan Church of St. Peter, in the Basilica of St. Petronius and in the Shrine of the Holy Virgin of St. Luke in Bologna the faithful are to receive the consecrated Bread only from the hands of the Minister directly on the tongue." (from his decree on the reception of the Eucharist, issued April 27, 2009)
Technically all bishops and clergy are bound to follow the Holy Father's directive on this issue, but in the meantime the faithful are not obliged to wait for the approval of their bishop in order to kneel for God. The directives of the Holy Father are not subject to the veto or scrutiny of the bishops and therefore all pastors and laity have a right and duty to put these directives into practice for the edification of their communities.
Today is the feast day of the Curé of Ars, confessor, intercessor for the Clergy’s sanctification and model for those entrusted with the care of souls. He lived in the 19th century (1786-1859).
Comments of Prof. Plinio:
There is always a word to say about St. John Baptist Vianney because he was one of the greatest saints of the 19th century. His life presents so many different facets that one always can take new lessons from it.
In the first decades of the 19th century, he was a poor seminarian. Not only was he poor but he had a small intelligence, remarkably small. He had to make an extraordinary effort to follow his studies at the seminary, and twice failed the examinations required before ordination. His intellectual insufficiency gave much cause for concern about his priestly vocation. Finally at age 30 he barely managed to complete the course and was ordained.
The Bishop sent this dull priest to a tiny village in the south of France, the village of Ars. There he began his sacerdotal life, which would permeate all of Europe with its light, and, from there, spread throughout the world. He was canonized a saint by Pius XI in 1925 and proclaimed patron of parish priests.
What was it that distinguished this Saint? Even though he didn’t have any natural qualities to make him an exceptional priest, he became a magnificent priest, an extraordinary apostle, a confessor with rare discernment, and a preacher who exercised a profound influence over souls.
What was the reason for such efficiency? St. Therese of Lisieux used to say, “For love, nothing is impossible.” What this means is that one who truly loves God, Our Lord and Our Lady will obtain the means to do what Divine Providence calls him to do. This applies perfectly to St. John Vianney. For example, let us look at his preaching. He became an extraordinary preacher. He prepared his sermons the best he could, then he studied them. They were not sermons touching on the highest topics of theology; they were common catechetical instructions for the people. But when he taught, he spoke with such conviction, with such a great love of God, with words so blessed that the graces of those sermons were communicative and touched all who heard them.
A defect I still didn’t mention: he had a weak voice, and in those happy times when microphones didn’t exist, the multitudes that gathered to listen his preaching – filling the church of Ars and its environs – often could not hear him. Even though persons at a distance could only hear a few loose phrases of his sermons, many of them still converted. Others could not hear him at all, but they also converted, only from the effect of seeing him.
In his Soul of the Apostolate, Dom Chautard relates this telling fact. An impious lawyer went to Ars to mock its unlearned Curé. But he returned converted. Someone asked him: What did you see there? He answered: “I saw God in a man.” That is, the presence of God was in St. John Vianney. One could note that God was with him and in him. I consider the witness of this impious lawyer about the Curé of Ars – “I saw God in a man” – one of the most glorious homages a man can receive.
The blessings from his sermons and charisma of his words extended far and wide, and all over Europe pilgrimages started to be made to Ars. This was one of the reasons for the countless conversions St. John Vianney made.
He was also a martyr of the confessionary. He used to spend hours and hours there hearing confessions and giving counsels. We don’t realize the tremendous penance it represents to spend long hours hearing the foul moral things people do. In the confessionary he applied the advice of St. Alphonse of Ligouri to not hurry through the confession, to be patient, to consider each penitent as if he were the only person to be heard and to help him conquer each one of his sins. So he entered battle against each sin, insisted on the practice of virtue, advised good behavior, and often he denied absolution. Yes, if he could not note a serious intent of amendment, he denied absolution to that person.
He was an enemy of dancing. You should note that the dances of that time were far different from the immoral and outrageous dances of today. The young ladies were completely covered and had skirts that reached to the floor. If he condemned those dances, what would he say about ours? His condemnation went so far as to deny absolution to those who would not promise to stop going to such dances.. Many persons would go to other churches to receive absolution. Hearing this, he simply commented: If other priests want to send them to Hell, it is up to them.
This extraordinary Saint spent all his time in the church: at the pulpit, confessionary or altar. At night when he returned to his house, one might think he would at least get a deserved rest. But no, a new fight started, this time against the devil. For decades he fought a nightly battle with the devil – whom he called Grapin – in which the devil physically assaulted him and tormented him with deafening noises and insulting words. On the night before a person particularly dominated by the devil would come to confess to St. John Vianney, the devil would inflict stronger torments on the Saint. Once he set fire to the Curé’s bed. In response St. John Vianney used to increase his special penances, flagellations, and prayers to win the graces for his words to effect the needed conversions.
It is beautiful to consider that Divine Providence, in order to further increase his apostolate, gave him the gift of the miracles. In fact he worked many miracles. But he did not attribute them to himself. In his church he built a shrine to St. Philomena, a virgin martyr that Paul VI removed from the list of the saints. St. John Vianney did not think the same way, and attributed all his miracles to her.
I will mention just one extraordinary fact that reveals his gift of reading souls – the discernment of spirits – that he had. This fact was reported by one of his penitents, a young lady who was a Daughter of Mary. She went to confession to the Curé of Ars. After she knelt, he began to tell her events from her past life.
- Do you remember that you went to a ball on such-and-such occasion?
- Yes, I remember.
- Do you remember that at a certain moment a handsome young man entered the ballroom. He was quite elegant, appeared very upright and danced with several young ladies?
- Yes, I do.
- Do you recall that you had a great desire to dance with him?
- I recall that.
- Do you recollect that you became sad because he didn’t ask you to dance?
- Yes, I do.
- Do you remember that by chance you looked down at his feet and saw a strange blue light coming from them?
- Yes. I remember.
Until now, everything he described to the young lady came from his gift of discernment, because naturally he knew nothing of her past. Then, he made the astonishing revelation:
- That young man was none other than the devil who had taken that shape to tempt several of the young women there. He was unable to approach you because you are a Daughter of Mary protected by her, and you were wearing the Miraculous Medal.
The fact is rich in lessons. It also explains the extraordinary fame that spread because of episodes like this – for he used to read the souls of many such penitents who came to him for confession – throughout the environs of the small village of Ars, then all of France, Europe and the whole world.
There would be many other extraordinary facts that could be told about his life, but I leave them for another opportunity.
In these sad and decadent post-Vatican II times in which we live, let us pray to St. John Baptist Vianney and ask him to heal the Catholic clergy of whom he is the patron. And let us ask him to give us the necessary discernment and strength of will to be free of any liberalism in customs.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Is the wound on Christs side of the right or the left?
I am massively confused
The devine Mercy Picture shows the Wound on the Left side of Jesus, some crucifixes (early church art) shows it on the right.
Is there any theological implications or is this just an art issue.
THE object of Eucharistic adoration is the Divine Person of our Lord Jesus Christ present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
He is living there. He wants us to speak to Him, and He will speak to us. Anybody may speak to our Lord. Is He not there for everybody? Does He not tell us, "Come ye all to Me"?
This conversation between the soul and our Lord is the true Eucharistic meditation, i. e., adoration.
The grace of it is given to everybody. In order, however, to succeed in it and avoid routine or dryness of mind and heart, adorers must seek inspiration in the grace of their vocation, in the various mysteries of the life of our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin, or in the virtues of the Saints. In this way they will honor and glorify the God of the Eucharist through the virtues of His mortal life as through those of all the Saints, of whose holiness He was the grace and end as He is now its crown of glory.
Look upon the hour of adoration assigned to you as an hour in Paradise. Go to your adoration as one would to Heaven, to the Divine banquet. You will then long for that hour and hail it with joy. Take delight in fostering a longing for it in your heart. Tell yourself, "In four hours, in two hours, in one hour, our Lord will give me an audience of grace and love. He has invited me; He is waiting! for me; He is longing for me."
When your hour is particularly difficult, rejoice all the more; your love will be greater for its suffering more. It is a privileged hour that will count for two.
When on account of illness, infirmity, or some other reason, you cannot make your hour, let your heart be saddened for a moment. Then in spirit imagine yourself at adoration in union with those who are actually adoring. On a bed of sickness, or on a journey, or at a task that detains you, be more recollected, and you will derive the same fruit as if you had been able to kneel at the feet of the good Master. That hour will be written down to your credit and perhaps even counted for two.
Go to our Lord just as you are. Be natural in your meditation. Use up your own stock of piety and love before resorting to books. Cherish the inexhaustible book of a humble love. It is all very well to take a pious book with you to regain control of yourself in case the mind wanders or the senses grow drowsy; but remember that our good Master prefers the poverty of our heart to the most sublime thoughts and affections borrowed from others.
You can be sure that our Lord wants our bean and not that of someone else. He wants the thought and prayer of that heart as the genuine expression of its love for Him.
It may be that we do not want to go to our Lord because we are ashamed of our misery and wretchedness: that is the fruit of subtle self-love, impatience, or cowardice. Our Lord prefers our helplessness to everything else; He is pleased with it and blesses it.
You are suffering from spiritual dryness? You can at least give glory to God's grace without which you can do nothing. Open your soul toward heaven just as a flower opens its petals at sunrise to receive the refreshing dew.
You are stricken with utter powerlessness; your mind is lost in darkness; your heart is crushed with the weight of its nothingness; your body is ailing. Offer Him the adoration He should expect from one so destitute; forget your poverty and abide in our Lord. Or again, present your poverty to Him that He may make it rich; that is a masterpiece worthy of His glory.
But you are in a state of temptation and of sadness; everything rebels in you; everything induces you to leave your adoration under the pretext that you are offending God, and that you are dishonoring rather than serving Him. Do not listen to that insidious temptation; you adore Him by resisting, by being loyal to Him against yourself. No, no, you are not displeasing Him. You are bringing joy to our Master Who is looking on and Who permitted Satan to upset you. He expects you to honor Him by remaining with Him to the last minute of the time you were to devote to Him. May confidence and simplicity and love bring you to adoration.
DO YOU wish to find happiness in love? Live continually under the influence of the goodness of Jesus Christ, a goodness ever renewed for you. Observe in Jesus the workings of His love on you. Contemplate the beauty of His virtues and the light of His love rather than the intensity of it. With us the fire of love soon burns out, but the truth of it remains.
Begin every one of your adoration hours with an act of love; bringing your soul under the influence of God will be a delight. If you begin with yourself, you will stop halfway; or if you begin with any virtue other than love, you are taking the wrong road. Does not a child kiss its mother before obeying her? The only door to the heart is love.
But do you want to be generous in your love? Speak to Love of itself; speak to Jesus of His Heavenly Father Whom He loves so much; speak to Him of the task He has undertaken for His Father's glory, and you will gladden His Heart, and He will love you all the more.
Speak to Jesus of His love for all men; that will make His Heart and yours expand with happiness and joy.
Speak to Jesus of His Blessed Mother whom He loved so much, and you will make Him experience anew the happiness of a good son. Speak to Him of His Saints in order to glorify His grace in them.
The real secret of love is, therefore, to forget oneself like Saint John Baptist in order to exalt and glorify the Lord Jesus.
True love looks not at what it gives but at what its Beloved deserves.
Jesus will thus be pleased with you and will speak to you of yourself. He will tell you His love for you, and your heart will open under the rays of this Sun just as a flower, dampened and chilled by the night air, opens under the rays of the sun. His gentle voice will penetrate your soul just as fire eats into combustible material. With the Spouse in the Canticle of Canticles you will say: "My soul melted with bliss when my Beloved spoke." Then, you will listen to Him in silence, or rather in love's most gentle and powerful action: you will become one with Him.
For what stands in strongest opposition to the growth of the grace of love in us if not that we are no sooner at the feet of our good Master than we straightway speak to Him of ourselves, of our sins, of our defects, and of our spiritual wretchedness? In other words, we tire our mind with the sight of our misery, we sadden our heart with the thought of our ingratitude and unfaithfulness. Sadness gives rise to distress, and distress to discouragement; and it is only after much humiliation, affliction, and suffering that we finally get out of this maze and recover our freedom before God. Do not therefore go about it that way any more. But since the first movement of the soul ordinarily determines what the whole action will be, direct this first movement to God and say to Him: "O my good Jesus, how happy and pleased I am to come to see Thee, to spend this hour with Thee and tell Thee my love! How kind of Thee to have invited me! How lovable Thou art to love such a poor creature as I am! Oh! yes, I really want to love Thee!"
Love has then opened the door to the Heart of Jesus; go in, love, and adore.
IN ORDER to adore well we must keep in mind that Jesus, present in the Eucharist, glorifies and continues therein all the mysteries and virtues of His mortal life.
We must keep in mind that the Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ past, present, and future; that the Eucharist is the last development of the Incarnation and mortal life of our Savior; that in the Eucharist Jesus Christ gives us every grace; that all truths tend to and end in the Eucharist; and that there is nothing more to be added when we have said, "The Eucharist," since it is Jesus Christ.
Let the Most Holy Eucharist therefore be the starting point of our meditations on the mysteries, virtues, and truths of our religion. The Eucharist is the focal point; the truths of religion are the rays. Let us start from the focus to go to the rays.
It is not difficult to find a relation between the birth of Jesus in the stable and His sacramental birth on the altar and in our hearts.
Who does not see that the hidden life of Nazareth is continued in the Divine Host of the tabernacle, and that the passion of the Man-God on Calvary is renewed in the Holy Sacrifice at every moment of the day and night, and all over the world?
Is not our Lord as meek and humble in His Sacrament as during His mortal life? Is He not always the Good Shepherd, the Divine Consoler, our bosom Friend?
Happy is the soul that knows how to find Jesus in the Eucharist, and in the Eucharist all things!
For more writings of St Peter Julian Eymard, refer to the following link
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Alphonsus was born in Naples in southern Italy in 1696. Of a noble family, his father was a Captain of a Neapolitan Royal Galley. Alphonsus was a brilliant student, and made great progress in all types of learning. He could paint beautifully and was a master of the harpsichord at age 13. His first work was a book of poetry.
At age 16 he received his doctorate in law from the University of Bologna. At the ceremony, he was so small that he was buried in his doctor’s gown, and all the spectators laughed.
He then embarked on the practice of law, and at age 19 he practiced his first case in the courts. He was extraordinarily able and successful, and by age 26 was one of the leaders of the Neapolitan Bar.
Given his fame, Alphonsus was chosen by the Grand Duke of Gravina in 1723 to represent him in a lawsuit against the Grand Duke of Tuscany in a case where a property valued at 2 million marks was at stake. On the court day, Alphonsus made a brilliant opening speech and sat down confident of victory.
But the opposing counsel immediately responded in chilling tones: “Your arguments are wasted breath. You have overlooked a document which destroys your whole case.” He was presented with a document that he had reviewed many times and interpreted according to the laws of Naples. However, the opposing counsel correctly argued that the case had to be judged according to the laws of Lombardy, where Tuscany was located. This reversed the process, and crushed the young lawyer. He left the court saying: “World, I know you now. Courts, you shall see me no more.”
His pride deeply wounded by the strong blow to his career, he shut himself away for three days and refused food. Then he began to see that this humiliation was sent by God to detach him from his career and achievements, which had led him to neglect the prayer and practices of piety that had been an integral part of his life.
In this situation Alphonsus felt a divine appeal. He abandoned his career as a lawyer and dedicated himself to pious exercises and charitable works. On August 28, 1723, as he left a hospital, he found himself surrounded by a mysterious light. He felt the earth shake under his feet, and an interior voice said: “Why do you wait to leave the world and give yourself to Me?” This occurred twice.
Alphonse left the hospital and went to the Church of the Redemption of Captives. He laid his sword at the feet of a statue of Our Lady of Mercy and made a solemn resolution to enter the ecclesiastical state. He prevailed over the strong opposition of his father, renounced his right of primogeniture and started to study theology from his home. He was ordained in December 21, 1726 at age 30, and for six years he developed an intense apostolate giving missions and preaching to the people, especially the poor classes in rural areas. Later, following the counsel of a Bishop, he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, or the Redemptorist Order.
For the next 25 years he traveled through all the provinces of the Kingdom of Naples on continuous missions, achieving great success.
In the second part of his life, when fatigue and infirmities prevented him from continuing the missionary work, he concentrated his efforts on writing, through which he would continue his pastoral activity. He based his writings on his actual experience in confessing thousands of souls and intended that they offer his Congregation practical orientation for the Sacrament of Penance. This was the beginning of his work on Moral Theology.
In 1747, King Charles of Naples wished to make Alphonsus Archbishop of Palermo, but he refused it. In 1762, he was constrained by formal obedience to the Pope to accept the Bishopric of St. Agatha of the Goths, a small Neapolitan Diocese close to Naples. He reformed the lax Diocese, more than once facing assassination attempts. Finally, his poor health made it impossible for him to continue. A terrible attack of gout left him paralyzed to the end of his days, with the result that his head was bent so acutely that the pressure of his chin produced a wound in the chest. He was only able to say Mass supported by a chair. Despite these infirmities, the Holy See did not allow him to leave his flock until 1775 at the age of 79.
He retired to the Monastery of his Order to prepare for death, but he would have to wait 11 more years. Blind and deaf, but still lucid, he lived his last years in a wheelchair. He was dangerously ill so often that he received the last rites nine times. He was tormented both physically and morally, because he was assaulted for some years by concerns and anguish over the future of his Order, as well as by strong temptations against purity.
He died peacefully in the Mother House of the Redemptorists near Naples on August 1787, the 90th year of his life.
Comments of Prof. Plinio:
This long and interesting selection offers many points for commentary.
First, it is curious to notice how the progressivists abhor St. Alphonsus Ligouri because he is very precise in his demands in Morals. Since Progressivism wants a permissive spirit for moral wrongdoings, they do whatever they can to boycott St. Alphonsus. This is one reason for us to give him special veneration.
Second, it is also interesting to note the apparent contrast between the careers of him and his father. His father was a Captain of a Royal Galley, a man accustomed to command both the soldiers and the prisoners condemned to row, linked by chains to the floor of the ship. Those men – criminals whose sentences were commuted to rowing in the galleys – were often looking for an opportunity to deliver the crew of the ship to an enemy and escape. So, such a position of command demanded an iron fist. This was the father of St. Alphonsus.
Apparently the son was much different. Playing the harpsichord, painting pictures, and writing poetry could make him appear more fragile and delicate, but actually what he had to bear later in life would be much more than what his father had shouldered.
Third, the legal case that caused that profound disappointment in the young Alphonsus and worked his conversion was a dispute caught up in two different feudal law codes. The feudal laws were very different from place to place. Such problems can still be found today in disputes that involve different nations, in which the process is governed by the laws of the country where the disputed property lies. Most probably the case of Alphonsus involved a land disputed both by Naples and Tuscany, with both parties claiming right to it. So, the opposition lawyer, realizing that he would lose the case based on the laws of Naples, claimed that the whole process must be re-examined based on the laws of Tuscany. This argument turned Alphonsus’ defense upside down. With this maneuver, St. Alphonse saw the fragility of human justice. He was still a young man, and until then had illusions about justice in tribunals.
Fourth, he was a noble youth, and a brilliant one. His successes made him become attached to earthly things and diminished his piety. Often a successful career causes a person to lose his love for the things of God. Seeing such tepidity, God chooses to shake a man’s career in order to convert him. This is what happened to Alphonsus. He realized that many of his friends had flattered him because of his high status and talent in law. Thus, he resolved to renounce all earthly things. How often we also need similar corrections of God to enter the counter-revolutionary life or to remain in it! Happy are those who do not need these chastisements!
Fifth, it is beautiful to see that the first thing he did after his resolution to offer his life to God was to enter a church and place his sword at the feet of Our Lady. He was a noble, and when a noble relinquished his sword, it was symbolic of his renouncement of the world, because a noble would never present himself in the world without his sword.
Sixth, he also renounced his right of primogeniture. It was a wise custom for the families everywhere before the French Revolution to give the greater part of their fortune to the firstborn son. He would inherit the fortune and the title of nobility. This was a way to prevent the enormous effort of many generations from being dispersed by dividing the properties among all the brothers and sisters. It allowed the family to continue its own history.
The firstborn received this mission, but also the responsibility to help his brothers and sisters, as well as their children, to progress. It was another factor that kept the family united around the firstborn and gave stability to the family. Needless to say, as soon as it could, the Revolution strove to abolish the right of primogeniture.
Seventh, it was not by chance that St. Alphonse chose to spend more than 25 years of his life preaching to the humble people. During his time, the clergy was experiencing an enormous relaxation in zeal and customs. The Church had many assets and goods, and it was possible for priests to get by with doing very little. Therefore, a large number of them went to the cities to mix in society. The people of those rural mountain areas were almost abandoned by the clergy. Various kinds of pre-figures of the Mafia infested such areas, the people were very primitive and ignorant, the life was hard and disagreeable. The clergy fled from them. The little people still had good customs and good will, but were ignorant of almost everything regarding religion and ran the serious risk of losing their souls.
St. Alphonsus, called by God to abandon all the brilliant worldly things, took up an opposite kind of work. He went to preach and care for the most humble and poor, the smallest peasants, the most ignorant people in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It teaches us that God normally calls a person to do the opposite of what he was attached to.
Eighth, the Order of the Redemptorists he founded was born from his concern that all those simple people would be abandoned again after he died. Even if he converted one, two, or several villages, many others were still waiting to be converted. It would be better to found an Order of priests who would continue his work. His Order is turned to continuously preach the word of Our Lord to the common people.
The life of the Redemptorist priest is very beautiful. He travels about preaching, remaining no longer than two months in one city. Then, from time to time, he retires to a monastery of the Congregation and stays there for a time - perhaps 10 to 15 days – in complete silence, making severe penances and receiving flagellations. This is to balance his successful preaching. After this retreat, he is sent to other cities and continues his work. He is a perpetually itinerant priest, without the possibility of attaching himself to worldly things, continuously preaching the word of God.
Ninth, St. Alphonse was called to be an intellectual, a great moralist and a Doctor of the Church. During those first 25 years of his work, he was unaware of this. His only concern was doing good for the people. That contact, however, would provide him with a great familiarity with the concrete everyday moral problems of people. This invaluable experience would give him the elements to deal objectively with Catholic Morals.
His previous study of law also prepared him to be a great moralist, because as everyone knows, Law demands Morals in its more profound explanation. We should note that the first aim of St. Alphonsus was not to write a treatise, but to give a practical orientation to the priests of his Congregation in resolving the problems of the common people.
So, his life had several different phases that prepared the moralist to come. It is a marvelous thing to see in the lives of many saints how Divine Providence masterly carved their souls to propitiate the fulfillment of their missions. Often the saint does not realize this, and only in Heaven will he understand why things happened as they did. This is the case of St. Alphonsus.
Tenth, there is the tremendous suffering of St. Alphonse at the end of his life. The effects of gout obliged him to be folded over, with his chin setting so sharply on his chest that it caused a painful wound. Then, 11 years in a wheelchair with all the inconvenience this represents.
He was a great Saint, a Bishop, a Doctor of the Church, a great moralist, a founder of a religious Order. With a life so replete, he was nonetheless still tormented by all kinds of spiritual temptations at the end of his life. He did not succumb to them, but God asked him to fight against them to the very end. Only by the time of his death had peace returned to his soul.
I offer one final small fact from his life for your edification. In the last years of his life, when he was in a wheelchair, every day a brother used to take him out to the cloister gardens for a little air. One day, he asked the brother: “Have we already finished the three terços of the Rosary?”
The brother answered: “I don’t remember if we finished them all, but I am sure that we got as far as such-and-such mystery.”
Then, St. Alphonsus began to pray the mysteries he was not sure he had said.
The brother protested: “But, my Father, you are dispensed from saying it because of your age and state of health.”
He replied: “If I did not pray my full Rosary for even one day, I would fear for my salvation.”
It is a golden note to end a commentary on a golden life. Let us ask St. Alphonsus de Ligouri to protect us and all the people today who are ignorant and abandoned because of so many bad progressivist priests, Bishops and higher Prelates.
Jim Corcoran brought the complaint after he was asked to give up his position as an altar server at Sunday Masses. Corcoran was dismissed from all duties on the altar after 12 parishioners wrote a letter to De Angelis questioning the presence of a gay man serving at the altar of St. Michael’s.
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