Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Holy Father on Saint Alphonsus

"A gentle and mild goodness which was born from an intense relationship with God, who is infinite Goodness" - Pope Benedict's summary of the particular virtue of St Alphonsus Liguori.

I usually have a quick read of the Holy Father's General Audience address each Wednesday but was unable to do so today since I was at Parkminster for my fortnightly visit to teach theology. Therefore I was glad to discover from the Transalpine Redemptorists blog that St Alphonsus was the subject of today's discourse.

Pope Benedict gave a brief summary of the life of St Alphonsus and then mentioned a particular apostolate of the Saint:
Although the social and religious context of the time of St. Alphonsus was very different from ours, the "Evening Chapels" appear a model of missionary activity that we can be inspired by today for a "new evangelization", particularly of those most poor, and to build a human society characterised by greater justice, fraternity and solidarity.
We have something a little like that perhaps, in the Evenings of Recollection in the parish for different categories of people. The Holy Father's discourse made me think today about possible ways of developing this activity.

The Holy Father recalled that St Alphonsus was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by the Blessed Pope Pius IX and was named Patron of all confessors and moralists by Pope Pius XII in 1950. He then spoke of his major works - in moral theology, but especially his ascetical works which still prove inspiring today.

The article by Harold Castle in the Catholic Encyclopaedia has an amusing story about St Alphonsus which is offered in rebuttal of the (essentially anti-Catholic) claim that he was the patron of lying, because of his careful discussion of what does or does not constitute a lie:
When, in 1776, the regalist, Mgr. Filingeri, was made Archbishop of Naples, the Saint would not write to congratulate the new primate, even at the risk of making another powerful enemy for his persecuted Congregation, because he thought he could not honestly say he "was glad to hear of the appointment."
For my morning meditation at the moment I am using the book "Attaining Salvation. Devout meditations and reflections." by the holy founder of the Redemptorists. This was one of the books I picked up at the Day With Mary a few weeks ago. It was translated into English in 1901 by Fr Edmund Vaughan CSSR who was then at St Mary's Clapham, the Redemptorist house in the Archdiocese of Southwark. It was republished by TAN Books (naturally) in 1982. I warmly recommend it to you.
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