Friday 30th January 2015

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Alphonsus Liguori

July 22, 2014 saints No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

Part 1

Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, having read the works of St. Alphonsus Liguori, took him as a mentor. It is not surprising, then, that Fr. Hardon taught his students, “If you are not encountering the cross, you are not doing God’s work.” Such were the lives of saints such as St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and especially of St. Alphonsus Liguori.
To begin with, Alphonsus was baptized with ten names — quite a burden to bear. In 1696, Joseph de’ Liguori, a captain of the royal galleys, and his wife, Anna Cavalieri, welcomed their firstborn, a son, and named him Alphonsus Mary Anthony John Francis Cosmas Damian Michael Caspar de’ Liguori.     Burdened with such a name, Alphonsus began to call himself simply Alfonso Maria. Most precocious, he possessed a brilliant mind and his father sought to provide him with a formal education. He advanced so quickly in his studies that at the age of just 13 he started studying jurisprudence.
Remarkably, at the age of 16, four years before the customary age, he went to the University of Naples to sit for the examination for a doctoral degree, not just in civil law but also in canon law — the law of the Church. He passed both exams with honors.
During his rather short career as a barrister, some claim he never lost a case. Despite his pious upbringing, he soon immersed himself in worldly pursuits, though not of a nature that was seriously sinful. He greatly appreciated music, the theater, and other stage performances.
In 1717, his father arranged a marriage for Alphonsus. Providentially, the marriage was never finalized. In the meantime, Alphonsus continued to enjoy the life of society. In 1722 he attended a lenten retreat with the Lazarists. That fall, he received the Sacrament of Confirmation, which greatly restored his original piety, leading him to vow that he would not marry nor would he do anything except to continue to practice law until God made it clear he was to do something else.
Just a few months later, a court case drove him out of court never to practice again. The case between a Neapolitan nobleman and the grand duke of Tuscany over a large estate involved (in present U.S. dollars) nearly $300,000,000. Alphonsus gave a most eloquent speech on behalf of his client. Those in the court were impressed with his knowledge and his oratorical skills.
Feeling very self-satisfied, he sat and then let the opposing lawyer give his presentation. The opponent walked over to Alphonsus, complimented him on his delivery, and then chastised him for not looking at the facts. He handed Alphonsus a document showing that he had ignored the point of location. Alphonsus lost the case because he had not determined if it should be tried under Lombard law or under Angevin jurisdiction.
Alphonsus sat stunned that he had missed that most important point in the documents. He admitted his mistake, left the court, and refused to ever practice law again. Despite the pleading of his father, he refused to return to law. He also refused to entertain any thoughts about marriage. St. Alphonsus heard our Lord calling him, “Leave the world, and give yourself to me.”
Again his father insisted that his son return to the practice of law while Alphonsus insisted that he would become a priest. They finally reached an agreement whereby Alphonsus would become a priest. However, instead of joining the household of the Oratorians, he would become a priest while residing at home.
In 1726 at the age of 30 he began his studies in theology for the priesthood. He preached and gave missions around Naples for the next two years as he completed his studies. The style of preaching during this time of the Renaissance demonstrated great pomp while delivering fire and brimstone in the confessional. With his brilliant mind, St. Alphonsus was certainly qualified to engage in such practices.
He rejected such a style, however; instead, he was simple and loving. As he told his missioners, “If skill be lacking, it is unconnected and tasteless; if it be bombastic, the simple cannot understand it. I have never preached a sermon which the poorest old woman in the congregation could not understand.”
Alphonsus continued his charitable ways in the confessional as well. His yearning to heal rather than punish became well known. Word spread that he had never refused absolution to a penitent. This caused great suspicion among his peers who gave out severe penances to punish the sinners.
Within another year the saint organized the Lazzaroni — a religious order — of Naples into groups in order to teach the doctrines of the Church. When he urged an imprudent penitent to eat food because God made us to require food to live, people twisted his words to destroy his work. Some of his followers were arrested for the heresy of Quietism and for being a secret society.
Both the Church and the state brought Alphonsus before them to answer for the accusations. Although Alphonsus was exonerated, the bishop advised him that before undertaking any other such endeavors, he needed to proceed with more prudence. Thus Alphonsus continued his work, which soon had several thousand laymen who met daily for prayer and catechesis. They became known as the Association of the Chapels.
In 1729, he began work for the missionaries to China. He left home to act as chaplain at a college that trained missionaries. Here he met Thomas Falcoia.
Msgr. Falcoia founded an order of nuns with Sr. Mary Celeste. Both had received a vision and inspiration to begin an order of nuns. When a convent was established in the See of Castellammare, Alphonsus gave a retreat to the nuns. His background in law motivated him to investigate the visions with exacting detail. After much consideration, he discerned that they were authentic. With the consent of the bishop, the nuns established the Redemptorines on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 1731.
His next project involved his good friend the monsignor in establishing a congregation of missionaries to serve the peasants in the country region. Again he met with obstacles and opposition, one of which was the painful farewell to his father in Naples. In 1732, he said his goodbyes and went to Scala where on November 9, 1732 he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
With only seven postulants, Msgr. Falcoia, and Alphonsus, it would seem peace would reign. However, conflicts occurred without delay. In the end, both the order of women and the order of men split and parted ways. Sr. Mary Celeste left with some women to found a convent in Foggia with St. Alphonsus being left alone with only one faithful brother.
Slowly, the congregation grew. New postulants came, necessitating a larger house for the men. In 1733, St. Alphonsus and his men gave missions in Naples. By the fall of 1733, another house was founded at Villa degli Schiavi in which Alphonsus gave most of his missions.

+    +    +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Notre Dame theologian known for books, liberal stands, dies

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Rev. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theologian known for his unabashed liberal stands on various church teachings and his popular books on Catholicism, died Sunday in his native Connecticut, according to the…Continue Reading

Bankruptcy case brings financial fears for Catholic schools

As president of an inner-city Catholic grade school that depends critically on donations, Helen Dahlman admits to an unconventional fundraising strategy. “We believe in miracles, so we pray a lot,” said Dahlman, who leads Risen Christ School in south Minneapolis,…Continue Reading

Cardinal: No pro-life victory without reaching the marginalized

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For the pro-life movement to truly succeed, it must fight not only abortion, but also the broader “throwaway culture” wherever life is being discarded, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston…Continue Reading

70 Churches Destroyed in ‘Anti-Charlie Hebdo’ Protests

The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of 10 people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes. The protest,…Continue Reading

ITALY: Muslims smash, urinate on statue of Mary

A man was kneeling in prayer before the statue of the revered Madonna, with the photograph of a loved one in hand, in the small chapel of St. Barnabas in Perugia (Italy), when he was attacked by five “immigrants.” The…Continue Reading

At new in-flight press conference Francis says good Catholics are not required ‘to be like rabbits’

Catholics fail to practise “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children, Pope Francis has said during an in-flight press conference on the way home from Manila. He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to…Continue Reading

CRUX’s “spirituality columnist” is “devastated” the Pope upholds Catholic teaching

Margery Eagan appears to be angling for a job as editor of National “Catholic” Reporter. Or perhaps spokesman for the LCWR: The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated. Goodness. Even…Continue Reading

St. Paul-Mpls. archdiocese declares bankruptcy in response to abuse lawsuits

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, saying it cannot meet its financial obligations from an unprecedented wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese…Continue Reading

Pope Francis strongly defends church teaching against contraception

Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia’s largest Catholic nation to urge families to be “sanctuaries of respect for life.” Francis also denounced the corruption that has plagued…Continue Reading

Bella Dodd, who rejected Communism in favour of faith, is a lesson for young jihadis

Her story shows how easily the best human impulses can be twisted to evil Having blogged last week about John Beaumont’s book, The Mississippi Flows Into The Tiber, with all the extraordinary, uplifting and grace-filled stories of conversion that it…Continue Reading

Fox News’ Bret Baier, actor Gary Sinise cancel on Catholic group after gay gripes

FOX News Channel’s chief political anchor, Bret Baier, has shown himself to have a thinner skin than might be guessed from his on-air persona.  Baier has caved in to pressure from the homosexual activist group ‘Good as You’ to back…Continue Reading

Federal judge strikes down South Dakota’s gay marriage ban

SIOUX FALLS – A federal judge has declared South Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but has stayed the decision pending appeal. U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier on Monday issued a summary judgment in favor of the six couples who filed…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope tells Dads to spend time with their children

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching…Continue Reading

General Audience: Pope Focuses On Role Of Father In Family Life

pope7115

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching…Continue Reading

Pope’s Morning Homily: Obeying God’s Will is the Path to Holiness

Rome, January 27, 2015 (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves Obedience to the will of God is the path of holiness. This was the main theme of Pope Francis’ homily during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. Today’s first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews explained that the sacrifices of old were not enough “for it is impossible that…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Women First And Foremost In Transmitting Faith

pope714

(Vatican Radio) The primary and indispensable role of women in transmitting the faith to new generations: this was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks to the faithful following the readings of the day at Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. On the day when the Church celebrates the memory of Saints…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . Pontmain Apparition, France, January 1871

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The Franco-Prussian War, which began in 1870, was the backdrop to this silent apparition of Our Lady at Pontmain in northwestern France. By January 1871, the country was in a very serious position militarily, with the Prussians controlling two-thirds of the country and Paris besieged. It seemed to be only a…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Should Catholic Hospitals Use The Morning-After Pill For Rape Victims?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For a compact disc with more than 320 patient information pamphlets for all of the different types of abortifacients, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Even with all of the different contraceptives and abortifacients…Continue Reading

Obama’s Tax On Stay-At-Home Moms

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY President Obama’s disrespect for motherhood has manifested itself in policies ranging from support for same-sex marriage to defense of a form of abortion that involves forcing a baby into a drug-induced premature delivery and then leaving that little one to die. When it comes to the most vulnerable and innocent human…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Dietrich Von Hildebrand’s Heroic Witness In Perilous Times

By STEPHANIE BLOCK My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Translated and edited by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby, Image Books (2014); $28.00; 335 pages. My Battle Against Hitler, a posthumously published memoir and collection of essays by “20th century Doctor…Continue Reading

“I Can’t Breathe”… The Plight Of The Preborn

By REY FLORES (Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted from www.all.org, the website of American Life League. All rights reserved.) + + + This past year has seen race relations decline as a result of a well-orchestrated attempt by a corrupt government that wants to divide us at all costs. And the propaganda peddlers known…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Path To Joy And Fulfillment

By Fr. ROBERT ALTIER Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Job 7:1-4, 6-7 1 Cor. 9:16-19; 22-23 Mark 1:29-39 When I looked at the first reading today, I was tempted to check the source and make sure that this was really from 3,500 years ago and not from last week. We hear Job whining and complaining about his…Continue Reading

Pope’s Address At Meeting Of Families In Manila… Set Out On The Path The Lord Sets For Each Of You

MANILA (ZENIT) — Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s January 16 address at a Meeting With Families at the “Mall of Asia Arena” in Manila. In his text, Pope Francis praised the courage of Pope Paul VI in writing Humanae Vitae. ZENIT News Agency provided the text; all rights reserved. + + + The angel of the Lord…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World.. Papal Bloopers And Catholic Teaching

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Pope Francis continues to grab headlines, not only by setting a new record for drawing the largest crowd in history, but also by his question and answer sessions on the planes to and from his pastoral visits. On the plane to the Philippines, the Pope responded to questions about free speech and violent responses to…Continue Reading

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . The Faith Of The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned alive, racked, beheaded. Others were crucified, flayed alive,…Continue Reading

I Believe — We Believe

By DON FIER Over the past three weeks of this series on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), we have been reflectively examining the characteristics of the indescribably wonderful gift of faith that Almighty God has so generously availed mankind. As so adeptly summarized in the Compendium of the CCC, we know that faith is “the supernatural virtue which…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Mutien Marie Wiaux

By CAROLE BRESLIN A few decades ago, when Catholic schools taught religion from the Baltimore Catechism, one of the first questions children learned was, “Why did God make you?” The answer was, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” The Catechism…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds our finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading