|Food for Strength |
|Those who want to participate more fully in salvation history are comforted by the fact that Jesus wants to walk with us in our suffering and wants to break bread to give us strength on our way.|
St. Alphonsus Liguori
Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.
In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.
At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but he s oon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups.
He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over.
Alphonsus' great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions.
He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese.
His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united.
At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of "dark night" scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent.
Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His Glories of Mary is one of the great works on that subject, and his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.
Someone once remarked, after a sermon by Alphonsus, "It is a pleasure to listen to your sermons; you forget yourself and preach Jesus Christ."
Saint of the DayLives, Lessons and FeastBy Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
As I sit here, the beating of my heart,
the ebb and flow of my breathing, the movements of my mind
are all signs of God's ongoing creation of me.
I pause for a moment, and become aware
of this presence of God within me.
Lord, may I never take the gift
of freedom for granted. You gave
me the great blessing of freedom of
spirit. Fill my spirit with Your peace and
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried or angry. I acknowledge how I really am.
It is the real me that the Lord loves.
The Word of God
Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim,
son of Josiah, king of Judah,
this message came from the LORD:
Thus says the LORD:
Stand in the court of the house of the LORD
and speak to the people of all the cities of Judah
who come to worship in the house of the LORD;
whatever I command you, tell them, and omit nothing.
Perhaps they will listen and turn back,
each from his evil way,
so that I may repent of the evil I have planned to inflict upon them
for their evil deeds.
Say to them: Thus says the LORD:
If you disobey me,
not living according to the law I placed before you
and not listening to the words of my servants the prophets,
whom I send you constantly though you do not obey them,
I will treat this house like Shiloh,
and make this the city to which all the nations of the earth
shall refer when cursing another.
Now the priests, the prophets, and all the people
heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the LORD.
When Jeremiah finished speaking
all that the LORD bade him speak to all the people,
the priests and prophets laid hold of him, crying,
"You must be put to death!
Why do you prophesy in the name of the LORD:
'This house shall be like Shiloh,' and
'This city shall be desolate and deserted'?"
And all the people gathered about Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.
R. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Those outnumber the hairs of my head
who hate me without cause.
Too many for my strength
are they who wrongfully are my enemies.
Must I restore what I did not steal?
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Since for your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother's sons,
Because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
But I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
"Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter's son?
Is not his mother named Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us?
Where did this man get all this?"
And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them,
"A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and in his own house."
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.
Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Where did this man get such wisdom? (Matthew 13:54)
How often does a word you hear or read, a verse from Scripture, or a line from a hymn stir something in your heart? You understand some aspect of who God is, either for the first time or in a whole new light. And with that understanding, you feel a new touch of God's love or a gentle conviction of sin or a new motivation to serve. You sense a particular direction for your life or a confirmation that you are on the right path.
But then the wonder of all you have received is dulled by that awful word—but. Ordinary objections, human fear, or practical considerations arise and dominate your mind. The comfort, joy, or sense of purpose that you were enjoying gives way, and you are left wondering if anything really happened at all.
This is how the crowd in Jesus' hometown reacted. Their initial admiration for Jesus, based on his teaching and his reputation as a miracle worker, turned to disbelief when he came back to pay them a visit. Everything they had heard sounded so good, but when they saw him, he looked like the same old carpenter's son they had always known. As a result, Jesus couldn't work many mighty deeds there.
The Nazarenes' lack of faith didn't totally overpower Jesus; it just hindered them from receiving everything he wanted to give them. Lack of faith doesn't render Jesus powerless; it renders us unreceptive.
God loves you. He really does. He wants to work in your life. If any thought or emotion rises up that argues otherwise, turn a deaf ear to it! Resist the urge to demand easy explanations or to rely solely on human logic. Instead, tell yourself, "God wants to guide and direct me. He wants to heal and forgive me. He wants me to know him personally." Believe that God wants to surprise you with his kindness and compassion, and you'll feel wonder rising up in your heart. And when you do, pause and embrace it.
"Jesus, help me feel your loving touch today."
Jeremiah 26:1-9; Psalm 69:5, 8-10, 14
Truth be told, as I type I am in Disney World. We are a large family and I normally fast before writing to you but we had breakfast with Disney characters and towards the end of our meal another character appeared. My baby girls shreeked and I turned around and I saw Goofy coming. Upon all the commotion and people taking pictures and laughing my kids screaming, Goofy threw his arms up and left our crowd to everyone's dismay. What happened? My nephew had jumped up and punched Goofy on the nose with all his might. Goofy left and the nephew sat down crying and the whole fiasco was awkward. Why do I bring this up? Because Jeremiah came up to the temple only to get trampled on. Difference is Jeremiah unlike Goofy, kept on and hung in there. In comes Jesus. The Prophet. The King. Upon preaching was rejected. He left. Not the dismay of all but to their own demise. Look. Do not be afraid to do what God wants. I'm in a crowd desperate to go but I write to my Love. I LOVES YOU. Saint Alphonsus made a beautiful prayer that we pray in the Holy originally on First Fridays today is First Friday. GOD MY HEART IS YOURS AND YOURS I WITH TO BE