Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Saint August 2 : St. Peter Julian Eymard - Apostle of the #Eucharist

365Rosaries: “The Eucharist is the life of the people. The Eucharist gives them a center of life. All can come together without the barriers of race or language in order to celebrate the feast days of the Church. It gives them a law of life, that of charity, of which it is the source; thus it forges between them a common bond, a Christian kinship.” 



Today, August 2, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868), “Apostle of the Eucharist,” and founder of the Blessed Sacrament Congregation, a new society dedicated to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. At his canonization, Pope John XXIII said of Saint Peter, “Yes, dear sons and daughters, honor and celebrate him who was so perfect an adorer of the Blessed Sacrament; after his example, always place at the center of your thoughts, of your affections, the undertakings of your zeal this incomparable source of all grace: the mystery of faith, which hides under the veils the author himself of grace, Jesus the incarnate Word.”
Peter Julian Eymard was born in Mure d'Isère in the Alpine mountains of southeastern France. His family, supported by his father who worked as an olive-presser, was rather poor, but strong in devotion to their faith. His mother inspired Peter’s devotion to Our Blessed Mother, teaching him of the Holy Eucharist, and the dangers of sin. As a child, Peter demonstrated great piety and desire to serve the Lord, promising at his first Holy Eucharist that he would become a priest. However, Peter’s father wished him to assume responsibility for the family’s small olive oil press, and discouraged his priestly endeavors. Nonetheless, Peter studied Latin on his own, and sought spiritual direction from a local missionary priest.
His father was to die while Peter was a young man, and with his mother’s permission, he entered the Oblate novitiate at Marseille. Not long after receiving the habit, he was sent home from the monastery for reasons of poor health. Near death, Peter received the Last Sacraments, and in agony prayed to the Lord for the strength, grace, and endurance to celebrate only one Mass prior to death. Monsignor de Mazenod, the local bishop of Marseille and founder of the Oblates, assisted Peter in entering the diocesan seminary, and there he was ordained at the age of 23. Peter was assigned to a small country parish, and within a few years had transformed the splintered faith community into a fervent and devoted congregation. With his healing improving, Peter felt a strong call to enter the Marist Society of Lyons. There, he was successively named to three important posts in the administration of the society. It was as Spiritual Director at one of the society’s colleges that he demonstrated great efficacy and grace in the direction of souls. The families of the students, in addition to the professors and students themselves, found their piety flourishing miraculously under his gentle influence.
Ever open to the call of the Lord, Peter felt himself being pulled in a new direction, one based upon the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Peter became certain that he must found a Congregation dedicated uniquely to promoting the glory and reign of Jesus in His Sacrament of Love. “You take communion to become holy, not because you already are,” he preached. However, it took some time to convince his Superior and the other members of the Marists, whom he loved, and who desired to keep him within the order. Eventually, it became clear that he must leave, and founded his new order, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
The fledgling order grew slowly but steadily, outgrowing any building it inhabited, and working to prepare adults for the sacrament of First Communion in Paris and then throughout France. Despite exhaustion, poor health, and constant opposition, Saint Peter Julian led the order, and founding a second community—Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament—as well as an Association of Priests. During these years of constant opposition, demolitions, shock and unrelenting trials, Saint Peter Julian was exhausted by the difficulties of founding not one, but two Communities — a second one for Sister-Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as an Association of Priests.
In declining health, Eymard lived to see his own Congregation begin its expansion outside France in the mid 1860s. His mystical life deepened during his final years, as he came to recognize what he called the ‘gift of self’ which involved an act of total self-surrender based on the model of Christ. Today, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament continue their devotion to the love of Christ through perpetual adoration of the Eucharist. The society, inspired by their founder, practices charitable acts throughout the world, prepares adults and children for First Communion, and models devotion and love to the saving grace of the Eucharist.
Selected Quotations of Saint Peter Julian Eymard

“We believe in the love of God for us. To believe in love is everything. It is not enough to believe in the Truth. We must believe in Love and Love is our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. That is the faith that makes our Lord loved. Ask for this pure and simple faith in the Eucharist. Men will teach you; but only Jesus will give you the grace to believe in Him. You have the Eucharist. What more do you want?” 

“If the love of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament does not win our hearts, Jesus is vanquished! Our ingratitude is greater than His Goodness our malice is more powerful than His Charity.” 

“Every time we come into the presence of the Eucharist we may say: This precious Testament cost Jesus Christ His life. For the Eucharist is a testament, a legacy which becomes valid only at the death of the testator. Our Lord thereby shows us His boundless love, for He Himself said there is no greater proof of love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.”

”The Holy Eucharist is the perfect expression of the love of Jesus Christ for man, since It is the quintessence of all the mysteries of His Life.” 

”He loves, He hopes, He waits. If He came down on our altars on certain days only, some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have to look for Him, and not finding Him, might have to wait. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep him waiting one instant.”

“How kind is our Sacramental Jesus! He welcomes you at any hour of the day or night. His Love never knows rest. He is always most gentle towards you. When you visit Him, He forgets your sins and speaks only of His joy, His tenderness, and His Love. By the reception He gives to you, one would think He has need of you to make Him happy.” 

"Love cannot triumph unless it becomes the one passion of our life. Without such passion we may produce isolated acts of love; but our life is not really won over or consecrated to an ideal. Until we have a passionate love for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament we shall accomplish nothing."

"The Eucharist is the work of a measureless love that has at its service an infinite power, the omnipotence of God."

"Have a great love for Jesus in his divine Sacrament of Love; that is the divine oasis of the desert. It is the heavenly manna of the traveler. It is the Holy Ark. It is the life and Paradise of love on earth."

"Hear Mass daily; it will prosper the whole day. All your duties will be performed the better for it, and your soul will be stronger to bear its daily cross. The Mass is the most holy act of religion; you can do nothing that can give greater glory to God or be more profitable for your soul than to hear Mass both frequently and devoutly. It is the favorite devotion of the saints."

Saint Peter Julian, who received the great privilege of so perfectly knowing what treasures are ours in the Most Blessed Sacrament, of being all afire with seraphic love for It, and of consecrating unto It your untiring zeal that It might be perpetually adored and glorified by all mankind, we beg of you to obtain for us the spiritual and temporal favors of which we stand in need. 


Obtain for us particularly to become, in imitation of you, faithful adorers in spirit and in truth of the Most Blessed Sacrament, while tending ever more toward the acquiring of Christian virtue, above all, of sincere humility. Thus we hope to live that life of union with Our Lord which was the aim of your constant zeal, as it is the principal effect on Holy Communion in our souls.


Finally, Saint Peter Julian, obtain for us your own filial devotion toward Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, that we may learn from that dear Divine Mother how to serve and adore on earth Our Savior hidden in His Sacrament, and thus come to adore and glorify Him unveiled in heaven. Amen

Shared from 365RosariesBlogspot

August Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary : #ImmaculateHeart Novena and Consecration Prayers to SHARE


August is a month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Pope John Paul II encouraged devotion to Mary in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae.
 St. Augustine said of Mary "she cooperated through charity in the work of our redemption". Devotion to the Heart of Mary began in the Middle Ages under Anselm of Canterbury, and Bernard of Clairvaux. It was further developed by Mechtild, Gertrude the Great and Bridget of Sweden.  St. John Eudes (d. 1681) propagated the devotion, and made it public.
Feast Days
Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1944 to be celebrated on the 22nd of August. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the day, Saturday, after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Pope Paul VI moved the celebration of the Queenship of Mary from 31 May to 22 August.
Five 1st Saturdays
Our Lady of Fátima asked that, in reparation for sins committed against her Immaculate Heart, on the first Saturday Catholics go to Confession (within eight days before or after the first Saturday), receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep her company for 15 minutes while meditating on the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. She promised that, whoever would ever do this, would be given at the hour of his death the graces necessary for salvation.
Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by St. Louis de Montfort 
FULL FORM
O Eternal and incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine incarnation. 

I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom. 

Hail, then, O immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, O Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee. 

I, (name)_____, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before. In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity. 

Receive, O benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy maternity; in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored thee. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honor and to obey thee in all things. 

O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me! O Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive me among those whom thou lovest and teachest, whom thou leadest, nourishest and protectest as thy children and thy slaves. 
O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen. 
NOVENA PRAYER (Say for 9 Days - Each day Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be)
Immaculate Heart of Mary, full of love for God and mankind, and of compassion for sinners, I consecrate myself entirely to you. I entrust to you the salvation of my soul. May my heart be ever united with yours, so that I may hate sin, love God and my neighbor, and reach eternal life together with those whom I love.

Mediatrix of All Graces and Mother of Mercy, remember the infinite treasure which your Divine Son has merited by His suffering and which he has confided to you for us, your children. Filled with confidence in your motherly heart, and for the sake of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, obtain for me the favor I ask: [Mention your request here].

Dearest Mother, if what I ask for should not be according to God's will, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit to my soul. May I experience the kindness of your intercession with Jesus during life and at the hour of my death? Amen

Litany of  Our Lady - Loreto 

V. Lord, have mercy.
R. Christ have mercy.
V. Lord have mercy. Christ hear us.
R. Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. 
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us. 
Holy Mother of God, pray for us. 
Holy Virgin of Virgins, [etc.]
Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good Counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Savior,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
Queen of families,
Queen of peace,
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Spare us, O Lord. 
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Graciously hear us, O Lord. 
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may we be freed from present sorrow, and rejoice in eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The versicle and prayer after the litany may be varied by season. Thus, during Advent (from the fourth Sunday before Christmas to Christmas Eve):
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray. O God, who hast willed that by the message of an Angel, thy Word should receive flesh from the womb of the Virgin Mary: grant unto thy suppliants, that we who believe that she is truly the Mother of God, may be assisted by her intercession before Thee. Through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
From Christmas to Candlemass (the Feast of the Presentation), that is through February 1:
V. Thou gavest birth without loss of thy virginity.
R. Intercede for us, O holy Mother of God.
Let us pray. O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary hast offered unto the human race the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that we may know the effects of her intercession, through whom we have deserved to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son. R. Amen.
From Candlemass to Easter (through Holy Week), AND from the day after Pentecost (or from Trinity Sunday, if Pentecost is celebrated with octave) to the beginning of Advent:
V. "Pray for us" and prayer "Grant unto thy servants," as above:
During Eastertide (from Easter day through Pentecost, and throughout the octave of Pentecost if it is celebrated):
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord is truely risen, alleluia.




Let us pray. O God, Who by the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast vouchsafed to make glad the whole world, grant, we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life, through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

Pope Francis "Economic structures sacrifice human lives for greater profits." Audience against Idolatry - FULL TEXT + Video


GENERAL AUDIENCE

Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, 1 August 2018

[Multimedia]



Catechesis on the Commandments. 4. «You will not have other gods in front of me»

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

We have heard the first commandment of the Decalogue: "You shall have no other gods before me" (Ex 20: 3). It is good to dwell on the theme of idolatry, which is of great importance and actuality.

The command forbids making idols [1] or images [2] of any kind of reality: [3] everything, in fact, can be used as an idol. We are talking about a human tendency that does not spare either believers or atheists. For example, we Christians can ask ourselves: what is really my God? Is the Love of the One and the Triune or is it my image, my personal success, perhaps within the Church? "Idolatry is not just about the false cults of paganism. There remains a constant temptation of faith. It consists in divinizing what is not God "(Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2113).

What is a "god" on an existential level? It is what is at the center of one's life and on which what one does and thinks depends. [4] One can grow up in a nominally Christian family, but centered, in reality, on points of reference that are not part of the Gospel. [5] Human beings do not live without focusing on something. So here the world offers the "supermarket" of idols, which can be objects, images, ideas, roles. For example, even prayer. We must pray to God, our Father. I remember once I went to a parish in the diocese of Buenos Aires to celebrate a Mass and then I had to make confirmations in another parish at a distance of one kilometer. I went, walking, and I went through a park, nice. But in that park there were more than 50 tables each with two chairs and people sitting in front of each other. What was it done? Tarot cards. They went there to "pray" the idol. Instead of praying to God for the providence of the future, they went there because they read the papers to see the future. This is an idolatry of our times. I ask you: how many of you have gone to make you read the papers to see the future? How many of you, for example, have you gone to read your hands to see the future, instead of praying to the Lord? This is the difference: the Lord is alive; the others are idols, idolatries that do not serve.

How does an idolatry develop? The commandment describes phases: «You will not make yourself an idol or an image [...]. / You shall not bow down to them / and you will not serve them "(Ex 20: 4-5).

The word "idol" in Greek derives from the verb "to see". [6] An idol is a "vision" that tends to become a fixation, an obsession. The idol is actually a projection of oneself into objects or projects. For example, this dynamic uses advertising: I do not see the object itself, but I perceive that car, the smartphone, that role - or other things - as a means of achieving and responding to my essential needs. And I look for him, I talk about that, I think about that; the idea of ​​owning that object or realizing that project, reaching that position, seems a marvelous way to happiness, a tower to reach heaven (cf. Gen 11,1-9), and everything becomes functional to that goal.

Then you enter the second phase: «You will not bow down to them». The idols demand a cult, of rituals; to them we prostrate ourselves and sacrifice everything. In ancient times human sacrifices were made to the idols, but also today: for the career they sacrifice their children, neglecting them or simply not generating them; beauty calls for human sacrifice. How many hours in front of the mirror! Some people, some women, how much do they spend to make up? This is also an idolatry. It is not bad to wear make-up; but in a normal way, not to become a goddess. Beauty calls for human sacrifice. Fame demands the immolation of oneself, one's own innocence and authenticity. The idols ask for blood. Money steals life and pleasure leads to loneliness. Economic structures sacrifice human lives for greater profits. We think of so many people without work. Because? Because sometimes it happens that the entrepreneurs of that company, that company, have decided to dismiss people, to earn more money. The idol of money. One lives in hypocrisy, doing and saying what others expect, because the god of his affirmation imposes it. And lives are ruined, families are destroyed and young people are left in the hands of destructive models, just to increase profit. Drug is also an idol. How many young people ruin health, even life, by worshiping this drug idol.

Here comes the third and most tragic stage: "... and you will not serve them," he says. The idols enslave. They promise happiness but do not damage it; and we find ourselves living for that thing or that vision, caught in a self-destructive vortex, waiting for a result that never comes.
Dear brothers and sisters, idols promise life, but in reality they take it away. The true God does not ask for life but gives it, gives it. The true God does not offer a projection of our success, but teaches us to love. The true God does not ask for children, but he gives his Son for us. The idols project future hypotheses and make the present despise; the true God teaches us to live in the reality of every day, concretely, not with illusions about the future: today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, walking towards the future. The concreteness of the true God against the liquidity of idols. I invite you to think today: how many idols do I have or what is my favorite idol? Because recognizing one's idolatries is a beginning of grace, and puts on the path of love. In fact, love is incompatible with idolatry: if something becomes absolute and untouchable, then it is more important than a spouse, a child, or a friendship. Attachment to an object or an idea makes us blind to love. And so to go after idols, to an idol, we can even deny the father, the mother, the children, the wife, the groom, the family ... the dearest things. Attachment to an object or an idea makes us blind to love. Bring this in your heart: idols steal our love, idols make us blind to love and to truly love we must be free from every idol.

What is my idol? Take it off and throw it out the window!

Greetings in Different Languages:
Je salue cordialement les pèlerins provenant de France ainsi que d’autres pays francophones. Je salue en particulier les jeunes de la paroisse Saint-Germain-des-prés, de Paris, accompagnés de l’archevêque Mgr Michel Aupetit. Chers amis, en cette période de repos, prenez le temps de repérer les idoles qui vous asservissent et demandez au Seigneur de vous en libérer. Que Dieu vous bénisse!
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!
Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger deutscher Sprache, besonders an die vielen Jugendlichen. Der Heilige Geist begleite euch in dieser Ferienzeit, damit ihr die Freude und den Frieden des Herrn zu allen bringen könnt, denen ihr auf euren Wegen begegnet. Gott segne euch und eure Familien!
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica. Los animo a que entren en su interior para reconocer y erradicar los ídolos que los tienen esclavizados y, en su lugar, pongan al verdadero Dios, que los hará libres y plenamente felices. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Queridos amigos de língua portuguesa, que hoje tomais parte neste Encontro: Obrigado pela vossa presença e sobretudo pelas vossas orações! A todos saúdo, especialmente aos membros das Equipes de Nossa Senhora de Mogi das Cruzes e aos acólitos portugueses guiados pelo Bispo D. José Cordeiro,encorajando-vos a apostar em ideais grandes de serviço, que engrandecem o coração e tornam fecundos os vossos talentos. Confiai em Deus, como a Virgem Maria.
أرحّبُ بمودّةٍ بالحاضرينَ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربيّةِ، وخاصة بالقادمين من مِصرَ ومن الشرقِ الأوسط. تقوم الوصيةالأولى على المحبة التي تحررنا من عبودية الأصنام. لهذا يحذرنا الله من التَعبد لأي إله كاذب. فالإله الحقّ هو من يعطيَّنا الحياة، وهو أمين في وعوده، أما الأصنام فلا يمكنها أن تعطيَ الحياة ولا تقود إلّا إلى الوهم. ليبارككم الربّ جميعًا ويحرسكم من الشرّير‏!
Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, okres wakacji jest okazją nie tylko do wypoczynku i do odnowy sił fizycznych i psychicznych, ale także do pobudzenia naszego życia duchowego i umocnienia więzi z Bogiem i z ludźmi. Niech to będzie czas pokoju, radości i kontemplacji piękna stworzeń i sztuki, które świadczy o dobroci Boga dla nas. Niech wam stale towarzyszy Jego błogosławieństwo!
I address a cordial greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims, in particular to the Daughters of Our Lady of Piety, who celebrate the General Chapter, and to the Daughters of Nazareth on the 125th anniversary of its foundation. Dear sisters, I assure you of my prayerful remembrance so that you may renew daily the oblative dimension of your life in the faithful exercise of the evangelical virtues. I greet the Auxilium cooperative, which assists minors with psychic problems, and encourages us to continue this important service to society.

Lastly, I greet young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds. Today is the liturgical memorial of St. Alphonsus Maria de 'Liguori, zealous pastor who has conquered the hearts of the people with gentleness and tenderness, fruits of the relationship with God, which is goodness infinity. His example will help you to live your faith with joy in the simple actions of every day. Thank you.

[1] The term Pesel indicates "a divine image originally carved in wood or stone, and above all in metal" (L. Koehler - W. Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, vol. 3, p. 949).

[2] The term Temunah has a very broad meaning, referable to "resemblance, form"; therefore, the prohibition is very wide and these images can be of any kind (see L. Koehler - W. Baumgartner, Op cit., vol.1, pp. 504).

[3] The command does not forbid the images in itself - God himself will command Moses to make the cherubs of gold on the cover of the ark (cf. Exodus 25,18) and a bronze serpent (cf. Nm 21,8) - but it forbids to adore and serve them, that is, the whole process of deification of something, not just reproduction.

[4] The Hebrew Bible refers to the Canaanite idolatries with the term Ba'al, which means "lordship, intimate relationship, reality on which one depends". The idol is what dominates, takes the heart and becomes the pivot of life (see Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament, Volume 1, 247-251).

[5] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2114: "Idolatry is a perversion of the innate religious sense in man. The idolater is one who "refers his indestructible notion of God to anyone rather than to God" (Origen, Contra Celsum, 2, 40) ».

[6] The etymology of the Greek eidolon, derived from eidos, is from the root weid which means to see (cf. Great Lexicon of the Old Testament, Brescia 1967, Volume III, page 127).

#BreakingNews 8 Thousand Churches Closed by Government in 7 Months in Rwanda - Please PRAY


AFRICA/RWANDA - A government directive has decided to close eight thousand churches in the last seven months
Kigali (Agenzia Fides) - Following a government directive, eight thousand churches have been closed in the last seven months. The decision to reduce the number of places of worship in the country, both Christian and Muslim, provides for the closure of churches that do not have sufficient hygiene and safety requirements to continue to carry out their activities. This is what is reported by the pro-government agency Kigali Today Press. The accusation that is being addressed by Rwandan (Catholics and Protestants) Christians, who account for 90% of the population, is that the government uses the new law to justify the closure of churches and mosques.
"Closing the churches, establishing the criteria to become ministers of worship, is really a proper solution to the problem of religion in Africa?" Intervenes Fr. Donald Zagore, theologian of the Society of African Missions, who explains that it could be a solution but it will be necessary to pay attention to the impacts that such a decision could have on the fundamental nature of religious dynamics. "Religion has a different mode of functioning compared to any political party or association. To put order in disorder is one thing. Another thing is to consciously or unconsciously suppress the prophetic character of religion, which avoids any form of logic and academic imperative. Academic and intellectual formation is certainly necessary, but in religion it is not a prerequisite. The only precondition is faith. God calls to his service, men and women who are not necessarily intelligent or graduates, but above all men and women convinced of their faith and ready to live and witness it even at the cost of life itself. We should also ask ourselves - continued Zagore - if when they establish the criteria of theological formation, as desired by the Rwandan government, they will stop making religion their activity. The key question is why is trade in religions so popular and profitable in Africa? Even if religious impostors remain a danger that must be fought, the real problem is those that are cheated. Why are our people abused and religiously robbed?"
Religious freedom is inserted as a right in the Rwandan Constitution in article 37 of 2003 but, according to World Monitor Watch, any reference to the Christian religion has been removed from the preamble of the Constitution, during the commemoration of the genocide no priest or pastor can intervene (unless the event is organized by a church) and in public offices no meetings are allowed to gather in prayer.
To make things clear, Father Donald comments, "we need to reflect on two main points. On the one hand we must recognize that our people are hiding behind these 'cheap' pastors with the hope of being helped to eliminate the abuses of their politicians and their inexhaustible thirst for power that still makes people languish in misery".
"Furthermore, the priest continues - there is an African conception of God and of religion that is not too healthy and deserves to be purified. In the dynamics of spiritualism, sometimes too emotional, God is interpreted as the exclusive source of miracles and the creator of solutions. This conception makes God not far from being compared to a charlatan. An African must realize that God is not a magician or a marabou, and despite his omnipotence, God cannot change the lives of men if they too do not make their contribution, they will continue to live and to be filled with ideologies and continually 'robbed'. The key to salvation is the birth of a mass-ruled and hermeneutically-organized African religious conscience", concludes Father Zagore.
According to government sources, the authorities decided to close the places of worship following the construction of too many churches by inhabitants, without calculating the high fragmentation of the villages in Rwanda that are populated by a small number of people. Very often, these villages are many kilometers away from each other and, due to the lack of infrastructures that connect the centers, each country builds its own church to prevent citizens from having to walk 20 or more kilometers to go to Mass.
Lately a church was closed even during a wedding ceremony, denounces the Christian portal World Monitor Watch, and guests were invited to abandon the ceremony in progress. A Christian community was forbidden to carry out the functions in a school hall, chosen for the lack of churches in the vicinity, because it had a wooden entrance door and not a metal one. (DZ/AP) (Full Text Release from Agenzia Fides, 1/8/2018)

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wednesday August 1, 2018 - #Eucharist


Saint Alphonsus Liguouri, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 403

Reading 1JER 15:10, 16-21

Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth!
a man of strife and contention to all the land!
I neither borrow nor lend,
yet all curse me.
When I found your words, I devoured them;
they became my joy and the happiness of my heart,
Because I bore your name,
O LORD, God of hosts.
I did not sit celebrating
in the circle of merrymakers;
Under the weight of your hand I sat alone
because you filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain continuous,
my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
You have indeed become for me a treacherous brook,
whose waters do not abide!
Thus the LORD answered me:
If you repent, so that I restore you,
in my presence you shall stand;
If you bring forth the precious without the vile,
you shall be my mouthpiece.
Then it shall be they who turn to you,
and you shall not turn to them;
And I will make you toward this people
a solid wall of brass.
Though they fight against you,
they shall not prevail,
For I am with you,
to deliver and rescue you, says the LORD.
I will free you from the hand of the wicked,
and rescue you from the grasp of the violent.

Responsorial PsalmPS 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18

R. (17d) God is my refuge on the day of distress.
Rescue me from my enemies, O my God;
from my adversaries defend me.
Rescue me from evildoers;
from bloodthirsty men save me.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
For behold, they lie in wait for my life;
mighty men come together against me,
Not for any offense or sin of mine, O LORD.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
O my strength! for you I watch;
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
As for my God, may his mercy go before me;
may he show me the fall of my foes.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
But I will sing of your strength
and revel at dawn in your mercy;
You have been my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of distress.
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.
O my strength! your praise will I sing;
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
my merciful God!
R. God is my refuge on the day of distress.

AlleluiaJN 15:15B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 13:44-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."

Saint August 1 : St. Alphonsus Liguori : Patron of #Arthritis, #Vocations, and #Theologians

St. Alphonsus Liguori
BISHOP, FOUNDER, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Feast: August 1

Born:
September 27, 1696, Marianella, Campania, Kingdom of Naples (now modern-day Italy)
Died:
August 1, 1787, Pagani, Italy
Canonized:
May 26, 1839, Rome, Italy by Pope Gregory XVI
Patron of:
arthritis, confessors, moralists, theologians, vocations; Naples (co-patron)
Born at Marianella, near Naples, 27 September, 1696; died at Nocera de' Pagani, 1 August, 1787. The eighteenth century was not an age remarkable for depth of spiritual life, yet it produced three of the greatest missionaries of the Church, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Paul of the Cross, and St. Alphonsus Liguori. Alphonsus Mary Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de' Liguori was born in his father's country house at Marianella near Naples, on Tuesday, 27 September, 1696. He was baptized two days later in the church of Our Lady of the Virgins, in Naples. The family was an old and noble one, though the branch to which the Saint belonged had become somewhat impoverished. Alphonsus's father, Don Joseph de Liguori was a naval officer and Captain of the Royal Galleys. The Saint's mother was of Spanish descent, and if, as there can be little doubt, race is an element in individual character, we may see in Alphonsus's Spanish blood some explanation of the enormous tenacity of purpose which distinguished him from his earliest years. "I know his obstinacy", his father said of him as a young man; "when he once makes up his mind he is inflexible". Not many details have come down to us of Alphonsus's childhood. He was the eldest of seven children and the hope of his house. The boy was bright and quick beyond his years, and made great progress in all kinds of learning. In addition his father made him practice the harpsichord for three hours a day, and at the age of thirteen he played with the perfection of a master. Riding and fencing were his recreations, and an evening game of cards; he tells us that he was debarred from being a good shot by his bad sight. In early manhood he became very fond of the opera, but only that he might listen to the music, for when the curtain went up he took his glasses off, so as not to see the players distinctly. The Neapolitan stage at this time was in a good state, but the Saint had from his earliest years an ascetic repugnance to theatres, a repugnance which he never lost. The childish fault for which he most reproached himself in after-life was resisting his father too strongly when he was told to take part in a drawing-room play. Alphonsus was not sent to school but was educated by tutors under his father's eye. At the age of sixteen, on 21 January, 1713, he took his degree as Doctor of Laws, although twenty was the age fixed by the statutes. He said himself that he was so small at the time as to be almost buried in his doctor's gown and that all the spectators laughed. Soon after this the boy began his studies for the Bar, and about the age of nineteen practised his profession in the courts. In the eight years of his career as advocate, years crowded with work, he is said never to have lost a case. Even if there be some exaggeration in this, for it is not in an advocate's power always to be on the winning side, the tradition shows that he was extraordinarily able and successful. In fact, despite his youth, he seems at the age of twenty-seven to have been one of the leaders of the Neapolitan Bar.
Alphonsus, like so many saints, had an excellent father and a saintly mother. Don Joseph de' Liguori had his faults. He was somewhat worldly and ambitious, at any rate for his son, and was rough tempered when opposed. But he was a man of genuine faith and piety and stainless life, and he meant his son to be the same. Even when taking him into society in order to arrange a good marriage for him, he wished Alphonsus to put God first, and every year father and son would make a retreat together in some religious house. Alphonsus, assisted by divine grace, did not disappoint his father's care. A pure and modest boyhood passed into a manhood without reproach. A companion, Balthasar Cito, who afterwards became a distinguished judge, was asked in later years if Alphonsus had ever shown signs of levity in his youth. He answered emphatically: "Never! It would be a sacrilege to say otherwise." The Saint's confessor declared that he preserved his baptismal innocence till death. Still there was a time of danger. There can be little doubt but that the young Alphonsus with his high spirits and strong character was ardently attached to his profession, and on the way to be spoilt by the success and popularity which it brought. About the year 1722, when he was twenty-six years old, he began to go constantly into society, to neglect prayer and the practices of piety which had been an integral part of his life, and to take pleasure in the attention with which he was everywhere received. "Banquets, entertainments, theatres," he wrote later on—"these are the pleasures of the world, but pleasures which are filled with the bitterness of gall and sharp thorns. Believe me who have experienced it, and now weep over it." In all this there was no serious sin, but there was no high sanctity either, and God, Who wished His servant to be a saint and a great saint, was now to make him take the road to Damascus. In 1723 there was a lawsuit in the courts between a Neapolitan nobleman, whose name has not come down to us, and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, in which property valued at 500,000 ducats, that to say, $500,000 or 100,000 pounds, was at stake. Alphonsus was one of the leading counsel; we do not know on which side. When the day came the future Saint made a brilliant opening speech and sat down confident of victory. But before he called a witness the opposing counsel said to him in chilling tones: "Your arguments are wasted breath. You have overlooked a document which destroys your whole case." "What document is that?" said Alphonsus somewhat piqued. "Let us have it." A piece of evidence was handed to him which he had read and re-read many times, but always in a sense the exact contrary of that which he now saw it to have. The poor advocate turned pale. He remained thunderstruck for a moment; then said in a broken voice: "You are right. I have been mistaken. This document gives you the case." In vain those around him and even the judge on the bench tried to console him. He was crushed to the earth. He thought his mistake would be ascribed not to oversight but to deliberate deceit. He felt as if his career was ruined, and left the court almost beside himself, saying: "World, I know you now. Courts, you shall never see me more." For three days he refused all food. Then the storm subsided, and he began to see that his humiliation had been sent him by God to break down his pride and wean him from the world. Confident that some special sacrifice was required of him, though he did not yet know what, he did not return to his profession, but spent his days in prayer, seeking to know God's will. After a short interval—we do not know exactly how long—the answer came. On 28 August, 1723, the young advocate had gone to perform a favourite act of charity by visiting the sick in the Hospital for Incurables. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by a mysterious light; the house seemed to rock, and an interior voice said: "Leave the world and give thyself to Me." This occurred twice. Alphonsus left the Hospital and went to the church of the Redemption of Captives. Here he laid his sword before the statue of Our Lady, and made a solemn resolution to enter the ecclesiastical state, and furthermore to offer himself as a novice to the Fathers of the Oratory. He knew that trials were before him. His father, already displeased at the failure of two plans for his son's marriage, and exasperated at Alphonsus's present neglect of his profession, was likely to offer a strenuous opposition to his leaving the world. So indeed it proved. He had to endure a real persecution for two months. In the end a compromise was arrived at. Don Joseph agreed to allow his son to become a priest, provided he would give up his proposal joining the Oratory, and would continue to live at home. To this Alphonsus by the advice of his director, Father Thomas Pagano, himself an Oratorian, agreed. Thus was he left free for his real work, the founding of a new religious congregation. On 23 October of the same year, 1723, the Saint put on the clerical dress. In September of the next year he received the tonsure and soon after joined the association of missionary secular priests called the "Neapolitan Propaganda", membership of which did not entail residence in common. In December, 1724, he received minor orders, and the sub-diaconate in September, 1725. On 6 April, 1726, he was ordained deacon, and soon after preached his first sermon. On 21 December of the same year, at the age of thirty, he was ordained priest. For six years he laboured in and around Naples, giving missions for the Propaganda and preaching to the lazzaroni of the capital. With the aid of two laymen, Peter Barbarese, a schoolmaster, and Nardone, an old soldier, both of whom he converted from an evil life, he enrolled thousands of lazzaroni in a sort of confraternity called the "Association of the Chapels", which exists to this day. Then God called him to his life work.
In April 1729, the Apostle of China, Matthew Ripa, founded a missionary college in Naples, which became known colloquially as the "Chinese College". A few months later Alphonsus left his father's house and went to live with Ripa, without, however, becoming a member of his society. In his new abode he met a friend of his host's, Father Thomas Falcoia, of the Congregation of the "Pii Operarii" (Pious Workers), and formed with him the great friendship of his life. There was a considerable difference in age between the two men, for Falcoia, born in 1663, was now sixty-six, and Alphonsus only thirty-three, but the old priest and the young had kindred souls. Many years before, in Rome, Falcoia had been shown a vision of a new religious family of men and women whose particular aim should be the perfect imitation of the virtues of Our Lord. He had even tried to form a branch of the Institute by uniting twelve priests in a common life at Tarentum, but the community soon broke up. In 1719, together with a Father Filangieri, also one of the "Pii Operarii", he had refounded a Conservatorium of religious women at Scala on the mountains behind Amalfi. But as he drew up a rule for them, formed from that of the Visitation nuns, he does not seem to have had any clear idea of establishing the new institute of his vision. God, however, intended the new institute to begin with these nuns of Scala. In 1724, soon after Alphonsus left the world, a postulant, Julia Crostarosa, born in Naples on 31 October, 1696, and hence almost the same age as the Saint, entered the convent of Scala. She became known in religion as Sister Maria Celeste. In 1725, while still a novice, she had a series of visions in which she saw a new order (apparently of nuns only) similar to that revealed to Falcoia many years before. Even its Rule was made known to her. She was told to write it down and show it to the director of the convent, that is to Falcoia himself. While affecting to treat the novice with severity and to take no notice of her visions, the director was surprised to find that the Rule which she had written down was a realization of what had been so long in his mind. He submitted the new Rule to a number of theologians, who approved of it, and said it might be adopted in the convent of Scala, provided the community would accept it. But when the question was put to the community, opposition began. Most were in favour of accepting, but the superior objected and appealed to Filangieri, Falcoia's colleague in establishing the convent, and now, as General of the "Pii Operarii", his superior. Filangieri forbade any change of rule and removed Falcoia from all communication with the convent. Matters remained thus for some years. About 1729, however, Filangieri died, and on 8 October, 1730, Falcoia was consecrated Bishop of Castellamare. He was now free, subject to the approval of the Bishop of Scala, to act with regard to the convent as he thought best. It happened that Alphonsus, ill and overworked, had gone with some companions to Scala in the early summer of 1730. Unable to be idle, he had preached to the goatherds of the mountains with such success that Nicolas Guerriero, Bishop of Scala, begged him to return and give a retreat in his cathedral. Falcoia, hearing of this, begged his friend to give a retreat to the nuns of his Conservatorium at the same time. Alphonsus agreed to both requests and set out with his two friends, John Mazzini and Vincent Mannarini, in September, 1730. The result of the retreat to the nuns was that the young priest, who before had been prejudiced by reports in Naples against the proposed new Rule, became its firm supporter, and even obtained permission from the Bishop of Scala for the change. In 1731, the convent unanimously adopted the new Rule, together with a habit of red and blue, the traditional colours of Our Lord's own dress. One branch of the new Institute seen by Falcoia in vision was thus established. The other was not to be long delayed. No doubt Thomas Falcoia had for some time hoped that the ardent young priest, who was so devoted to him, might, under his direction, be the founder of the new Order he had at heart. a fresh vision of Sister Maria Celeste seemed to show that such was the will of God. On 3 October, 1731, the eve of the feast of St. Francis, she saw Our Lord with St. Francis on His right hand and a priest on His left. A voice said "This is he whom I have chosen to be head of My Institute, the Prefect General of a new Congregation of men who shall work for My glory." The priest was Alphonsus. Soon after, Falcoia made known to the latter his vocation to leave Naples and establish an order of missionaries at Scala, who should work above all for the neglected goatherds of the mountains. A year of trouble and anxiety followed. The Superior of the Propaganda and even Falcoia's friend, Matthew Ripa, opposed the project with all their might. But Alphonsus's director, Father Pagano; Father Fiorillo, a great Dominican preacher; Father Manulio, Provincial of the Jesuits; and Vincent Cutica, Superior of the Vincentians, supported the young priest, and, 9 November, 1732, the "Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer", or as it was called for seventeen years, "of the Most Holy Saviour", was begun in a little hospice belonging to the nuns of Scala. Though St. Alphonsus was founder and de facto head of the Institute, its general direction in the beginning, as well as the direction of Alphonsus's conscience, was undertaken by the Bishop of Castellamare and it was not till the latter's death, 20 April, 1743, that a general chapter was held and the Saint was formally elected Superior-General. In fact, in the beginning, the young priest in his humility would not be Superior even of the house, judging one of his companions, John Baptist Donato, better fitted for the post because he had already had some experience of community life in another institute.
The early years, following the founding of the new order, were not promising. Dissensions arose, the Saint's former friend and chief companion, Vincent Mannarini, opposing him and Falcoia in everything. On 1 April, 1733, all the companions of Alphonsus except one lay brother, Vitus Curtius, abandoned him, and founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, which, confined to the Kingdom of Naples, was extinguished in 1860 by the Italian Revolution. The dissensions even spread to the nuns, and Sister Maria Celeste herself left Scala and founded a convent at Foggia, where she died in the odour of sanctity, 14 September, 1755. She was declared Venerable 11 August, 1901. Alphonsus, however, stood firm; soon other companions arrived, and though Scala itself was given up by the Fathers in 1738, by 1746 the new Congregation had four houses at Nocera de' Pagani, Ciorani, Iliceto (now Deliceto), and Caposele, all in the Kingdom of Naples. In 1749, the Rule and Institute of men were approved by Pope Benedict XIV, and in 1750, the Rule and Institute of the nuns. Alphonsus was lawyer, founder, religious superior, bishop, theologian, and mystic, but he was above all a missionary, and no true biography of the Saint will neglect to give this due prominence. From 1726 to 1752, first as a member of the Neapolitan "Propaganda", and then as a leader of his own Fathers, he traversed the provinces of Naples for the greater part of each year giving missions even in the smallest villages and saving many souls. a special feature of his method was the return of the missionaries, after an interval of some months, to the scene of their labours to consolidate their work by what was called the "renewal of a mission." After 1752 Alphonsus gave fewer missions. His infirmities were increasing, and he was occupied a good deal with his writings. His promotion to the episcopate in 1762 led to a renewal of his missionary activity, but in a slightly different form. The Saint had four houses, but during his lifetime it not only became impossible in the Kingdom of Naples to get any more, but even the barest toleration for those he had could scarcely be obtained. The cause of this was "regalism", the omnipotence of kings even in matters spiritual, which was the system of government in Naples as in all the Bourbon States. The immediate author of what was practically a lifelong persecution of the Saint was the Marquis Tanucci, who entered Naples in 1734. Naples had been part of the dominions of Spain since 1503, but in 1708 when Alphonsus was twelve years old, it was conquered by Austria during the war of the Spanish Succession. In 1734, however, it was reconquered by Don Carlos, the young Duke of Parma, great-grandson of Louis XIV, and the independent Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was established. With Don Carlos, or as he is generally called, Charles III, from his later title as King of Spain, came the lawyer, Bernard Tanucci, who governed Naples as Prime Minister and regent for the next forty-two years. This was to be a momentous revolution for Alphonsus. Had it happened a few years later, the new Government might have found the Redemptorist Congregation already authorized, and as Tanucci's anti-clerical policy rather showed itself in forbidding new Orders than, with the exception of the Society of Jesus, in suppressing old ones, the Saint might have been free to develop his work in comparative peace. As it was, he was refused the royal exequatur to the Brief of Benedict XIV, and State recognition of his Institute as a religious congregation till the day of his death. There were whole years, indeed, in which the Institute seemed on the verge of summary suppression. The suffering which this brought on Alphonsus, with his sensitive and high-strung disposition, was very great, besides what was worse, the relaxation of discipline and loss of vocations which it caused in the Order itself. Alphonsus, however, was unflagging in his efforts with the Court. It may be he was even too anxious, and on one occasion when he was over-whelmed by a fresh refusal, his friend the Marquis Brancone, Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs and a man of deep piety, said to him gently: "It would seem as if you placed all your trust here below"; on which the Saint recovered his peace of mind.
 A final attempt to gain the royal approval, which seemed as if at last it had been successful, led to the crowning sorrow of Alphonsus's life: the division and apparent ruin of his Congregation and the displeasure of the Holy See. This was in 1780, when Alphonsus was eighty-three years old. But, before relating the episode of the "Regolamento", as it is called, we must speak of the period of the Saint's episcopate which intervened.
In the year 1747, King Charles of Naples wished to make Alphonsus Archbishop of Palermo, and it was only by the most earnest entreaties that he was able to escape. In 1762, there was no escape and he was constrained by formal obedience to the Pope to accept the Bishopric of St. Agatha of the Goths, a very small Neapolitan diocese lying a few miles off the road from Naples to Capua. Here with 30,000 uninstructed people, 400 mostly indifferent and sometimes scandalous secular clergy, and seventeen more or less relaxed religious houses to look after, in a field so overgrown with weeds that they seemed the only crop, he wept and prayed and spent days and nights in unremitting labour for thirteen years. More than once he faced assassination unmoved. In a riot which took place during the terrible famine that fell upon Southern Italy in 1764, he saved the life of the syndic of St. Agatha by offering his own to the mob. He fed the poor, instructed the ignorant, reorganized his seminary, reformed his convents, created a new spirit in his clergy, banished scandalous noblemen and women of evil life with equal impartiality, brought the study of theology and especially of moral theology into honour, and all the time was begging pope after pope to let him resign his office because he was doing nothing for his diocese. To all his administrative work we must add his continual literary labours, his many hours of daily prayer, his terrible austerities, and a stress of illness which made his life a martyrdom. Eight times during his long life, without counting his last sickness, the Saint received the sacraments of the dying, but the worst of all his illnesses was a terrible attack of rheumatic fever during his episcopate, an attack which lasted from May, 1768, to June, 1769, and left him paralyzed to the end of his days. It was this which gave St. Alphonsus the bent head which we notice in the portraits of him. So bent was it in the beginning, that the pressure of his chin produced a dangerous wound in the chest. Although the doctors succeeded in straightening the neck a little, the Saint for the rest of his life had to drink at meals through a tube. He could never have said Mass again had not an Augustinian prior shown him how to support himself on a chair so that with the assistance of an acolyte he could raise the chalice to his lips. But in spite of his infirmities both Clement XIII (1758-69) and Clement XIV (1769-74) obliged Alphonsus to remain at his post. In February, 1775, however, Pius VI was elected Pope, and the following May he permitted the Saint to resign his see.
Alphonsus returned to his little cell at Nocera in July, 1775, to prepare, as he thought, for a speedy and happy death. Twelve years, however, still separated him from his reward, years for the most part not of peace but of greater afflictions than any which had yet befallen him. By 1777, the Saint, in addition to four houses in Naples and one in Sicily, had four others at Scifelli, Frosinone, St. Angelo a Cupclo, and Beneventum, in the States of the Church. In case things became hopeless in Naples, he looked to these houses to maintain the Rule and Institute. In 1780, a crisis arose in which they did this, yet in such a way as to bring division in the Congregation and extreme suffering and disgrace upon its founder. The crisis arose in this way. From the year 1759 two former benefactors of the Congregation, Baron Sarnelli and Francis Maffei, by one of those changes not uncommon in Naples, had become its bitter enemies, and waged a vendetta against it in the law courts which lasted for twenty-four years. Sarnelli was almost openly supported by the all-powerful Tanucci, and the suppression of the Congregation at last seemed a matter of days, when on 26 October, 1776, Tanucci, who had offended Queen Maria Carolina, suddenly fell from power. Under the government of the Marquis della Sambuca, who, though a great regalist, was a personal friend of the Saint's, there was promise of better times, and in August, 1779, Alphonsus's hopes were raised by the publication of a royal decree allowing him to appoint superiors in his Congregation and to have a novitiate and house of studies. The Government throughout had recognized the good effect of his missions, but it wished the missionaries to be secular priests and not a religious order. 
The Decree of 1779, however, seemed a great step in advance. Alphonsus, having got so much, hoped to get a little more, and through his friend, Mgr. Testa, the Grand Almoner, even to have his Rule approved. He did not, as in the past, ask for an exequatur to the Brief of Benedict XIV, for relations at the time were more strained than ever between the Courts of Rome and Naples; but he hoped the king might give an independent sanction to his Rule, provided he waived all legal right to hold property in common, which he was quite prepared to do. It was all-important to the Fathers to be able to rebut the charge of being an illegal religious congregation, which was one of the chief allegations in the ever-adjourned and ever-impending action by Baron Sarnelli. Perhaps in any case the submission of their Rule to a suspicious and even hostile civil power was a mistake. At all events, it proved disastrous in the result. Alphonsus being so old and so inform—he was eighty-five, crippled, deaf, and nearly blind—his one chance of success was to be faithfully served by friends and subordinates, and he was betrayed at every turn. His friend the Grand Almoner betrayed him; his two envoys for negotiating with the Grand Almoner, Fathers Majone and Cimino, betrayed him, consultors general though they were. His very confessor and vicar general in the government of his Order, Father Andrew Villani, joined in the conspiracy. In the end the Rule was so altered as to be hardly recognizable, the very vows of religion being abolished. To this altered Rule or "Regolamento", as it came to be called, the unsuspecting Saint was induced to put his signature. It was approved by the king and forced upon the stupefied Congregation by the whole power of the State. a fearful commotion arose. Alphonsus himself was not spared. Vague rumours of impending treachery had got about and had been made known to him, but he had refused to believe them. "You have founded the Congregation and you have destroyed it", said one Father to him. The Saint only wept in silence and tried in vain to devise some means by which his Order might be saved. His best plan would have been to consult the Holy See, but in this he had been forestalled. The Fathers in the Papal States, with too precipitate zeal, in the very beginning denounced the change of Rule to Rome. Pius VI, already deeply displeased with the Neapolitan Government, took the fathers in his own dominions under his special protection, forbade all change of rule in their houses, and even withdrew them from obedience to the Neapolitan superiors, that is to St. Alphonsus, till an inquiry could be held. A long process followed in the Court of Rome, and on 22 September, 1780, a provisional Decree, which on 24 August, 1781, was made absolute, recognized the houses in the Papal States as alone constituting the Redemptorist Congregation. Father Francis de Paula, one of the chief appellants, was appointed their Superior General, "in place of those", so the brief ran, "who being higher superiors of the said Congregation have with their followers adopted a new system essentially different from the old, and have deserted the Institute in which they were professed, and have thereby ceased to be members of the Congregation." So the Saint was cut off from his own Order by the Pope who was to declare him "Venerable". In this state of exclusion he lived for seven years more and in it he died. It was only after his death, as he had prophesied, that the Neapolitan Government at last recognized the original Rule, and that the Redemptorist Congregation was reunited under one head (1793).
Alphonsus had still one final storm to meet, and then the end. About three years before his death he went through a veritable "Night of the Soul". Fearful temptations against every virtue crowded upon him, together with diabolical apparitions and illusions, and terrible scruples and impulses to despair which made life a hell. at last came peace, and on 1 August, 1787, as the midday Angelus was ringing, the Saint passed peacefully to his reward. He had nearly completed his ninety-first year. He was declared "Venerable", 4 May, 1796; was beatified in 1816, and canonized in 1839. In 1871, he was declared a Doctor of the Church. "Alphonsus was of middle height", says his first biographer, Tannoia; "his head was rather large, his hair black, and beard well-grown." He had a ;pleasant smile, and his conversation was very agreeable, yet he had great dignity of manner. He was a born leader of men. His devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady was extraordinary. He had a tender charity towards all who were in trouble; he would go to any length to try to save a vocation; he would expose himself to death to prevent sin. He had a love for the lower animals, and wild creatures who fled from all else would come to him as to a friend. Psychologically, Alphonsus may be classed among twice-born souls; that is to say, there was a definitely marked break or conversion, in his life, in which he turned, not from serious sin, for that he never committed, but from comparative worldliness, to thorough self-sacrifice for God. Alphonsus's temperament was very ardent. He was a man of strong passions, using the term in the philosophic sense, and tremendous energy, but from childhood his passions were under control. Yet, to take anger alone, though comparatively early in life he seemed dead to insult or injury which affected himself, in cases of cruelty, or of injustice to others, or of dishonour to God, he showed a prophet's indignation even in old age. Ultimately, however, anything merely human in this had disappeared. At the worst, it was only the scaffolding by which the temple of perfection was raised. Indeed, apart from those who become saints by the altogether special grace of martyrdom, it may be doubted if many men and women of phlegmatic temperament have been canonized. The differentia of saints is not faultlessness but driving-power, a driving-power exerted in generous self-sacrifice and ardent love of God. The impulse to this passionate service of God comes from Divine grace, but the soul must correspond (which is also a grace of God), and the soul of strong will and strong passions corresponds best. The difficulty about strong wills and strong passions is that they are hard to tame, but when they are tamed they are the raw material of sanctity.
Not less remarkable than the intensity with which Alphonsus worked is the amount of work he did. His perseverance was indomitable. He both made and kept a vow not to lose a single moment of time. He was helped in this by his turn of mind which was extremely practical. Though a good dogmatic theologian—a fact which has not been sufficiently recognized—he was not a metaphysician like the great scholastics. He was a lawyer, not only during his years at the Bar, but throughout his whole life—a lawyer, who to skilled advocacy and an enormous knowledge of practical detail added a wide and luminous hold of underlying principles. It was this which made him the prince of moral theologians, and gained him, when canonization made it possible, the title of "Doctor of the Church". This combination of practical common sense with extraordinary energy in administrative work ought to make Alphonsus, if he were better known, particularly attractive to the English-speaking nations, especially as he is so modern a saint. But we must not push resemblances too far. If in some things Alphonsus was an Anglo-Saxon, in others he was a Neapolitan of the Neapolitans, though always a saint. He often writes as a Neapolitan to Neapolitans. Were the vehement things in his letters and writings, especially in the matter of rebuke or complaint, to appraised as if uttered by an Anglo-Saxon in cold blood, we might be surprised and even shocked. Neapolitan students, in an animated but amicable discussion, seem to foreign eyes to be taking part in a violent quarrel. St. Alphonsus appeared a miracle of calm to Tannoia. Could he have been what an Anglo-Saxon would consider a miracle of calm, he would have seemed to his companions absolutely inhuman. The saints are not inhuman but real men of flesh and blood, however much some hagiographers may ignore the fact. While the continual intensity of reiterated acts of virtue which we have called driving—power is what really creates sanctity, there is another indispensable quality. The extreme difficulty of the lifelong work of fashioning a saint consists precisely in this, that every act of virtue the saint performs goes to strengthen his character, that is, his will. On the other hand, ever since the Fall of Man, the will of man has been his greatest danger. It has a tendency at every moment to deflect, and if it does deflect from the right path, the greater the momentum the more terrible the final crash. Now the saint has a very great momentum indeed, and a spoiled saint is often a great villain. To prevent the ship going to pieces on the rocks, it has need of a very responsive rudder, answering to the slightest pressure of Divine guidance. The rudder is humility, which, in the intellect, is a realization of our own unworthiness, and in the will, docility to right guidance. But how was Alphonsus to grow in this so necessary virtue when he was in authority nearly all his life? The answer is that God kept him humble by interior trials. From his earliest years he had an anxious fear about committing sin which passed at times into scruple. He who ruled and directed others so wisely, had, where his own soul was concerned, to depend on obedience like a little child. To supplement this, God allowed him in the last years of his life to fall into disgrace with the pope, and to find himself deprived of all external authority, trembling at times even for his eternal salvation. St. Alphonsus does not offer as much directly to the student of mystical theology as do some contemplative saints who have led more retired lives. Unfortunately, he was not obliged by his confessor, in virtue of holy obedience, as St. Teresa was, to write down his states of prayer; so we do not know precisely what they were. The prayer he recommended to his Congregation, of which we have beautiful examples in his ascetical works, is affective; the use of short aspirations, petitions, and acts of love, rather than discursive meditation with long reflection. His own prayer was perhaps for the most part what some call "active", others "ordinary", contemplation. Of extraordinary passive states, such as rapture, there are not many instances recorded in his life, though there are some. At three different times in his missions, while preaching, a ray of light from a picture of Our Lady darted towards him, and he fell into an ecstasy before the people. In old age he was more than once raised in the air when speaking of God. His intercession healed the sick; he read the secrets of hearts, and foretold the future. He fell into a clairvoyant trance at Arienzo on 21 September, 1774, and was present in spirit at the death-bed in Rome of Pope Clement XIV.
It was comparatively late in life that Alphonsus became a writer. If we except a few poems published in 1733 (the Saint was born in 1696), his first work, a tiny volume called "Visits to the Blessed Sacrament", only appeared in 1744 or 1745, when he was nearly fifty years old. Three years later he published the first sketch of his "Moral Theology" in a single quarto volume called "Annotations to Busembaum", a celebrated Jesuit moral theologian. He spent the next few years in recasting this work, and in 1753 appeared the first volume of the "Theologia Moralis", the second volume, dedicated to Benedict XIV, following in 1755. Nine editions of the "Moral Theology" appeared in the Saint's life-time, those of 1748, 1753-1755, 1757, 1760, 1763, 1767, 1773, 1779, and 1785, the "Annotations to Busembaum" counting as the first. In the second edition the work received the definite form it has since retained, though in later issues the Saint retracted a number of opinions, corrected minor ones, and worked at the statement of his theory of Equiprobabilism till at last he considered it complete. In addition, he published many editions of compendiums of his larger work, such as the "Homo Apostolicus", made in 1759. The "Moral Theology", after a historical introduction by the Saint's friend, P. Zaccaria, S.J., which was omitted, however, from the eighth and ninth editions, begins with a treatise "De Conscientia", followed by one "De Legibus". These form the first book of the work, while the second contains the treatises on Faith, Hope, and Charity. The third book deals with the Ten Commandments, the fourth with the monastic and clerical states, and the duties of judges, advocates, doctors, merchants, and others. The fifth book has two treatises "De Actibus Humanis" and "De Peccatis"; the sixth is on the sacraments, the seventh and last on the censures of the Church.
St. Alphonsus as a moral theologian occupies the golden mean between the schools tending either to laxity or to rigour which divided the theological world of his time. When he was preparing for the priesthood in Naples, his masters were of the rigid school, for though the center of Jansenistic disturbance was in northern Europe, no shore was so remote as not to feel the ripple of its waves. When the Saint began to hear confessions, however, he soon saw the harm done by rigorism, and for the rest of his life he inclined more to the mild school of the Jesuit theologians, whom he calls "the masters of morals". St. Alphonsus, however, did not in all things follow their teaching, especially on one point much debated in the schools; namely, whether we may in practice follow an opinion which denies a moral obligation, when the opinion which affirms a moral obligation seems to us to be altogether more probable. This is the great question of "Probabilism". St. Alphonsus, after publishing anonymously (in 1749 and 1755) two treatises advocating the right to follow the less probably opinion, in the end decided against that lawfulness, and in case of doubt only allowed freedom from obligation where the opinions for and against the law were equal or nearly equal. He called his system Equiprobabilism. It is true that theologians even of the broadest school are agreed that, when an opinion in favour of the law is so much more probable as to amount practically to moral certainty, the less probable opinion cannot be followed, and some have supposed that St. Alphonsus meant no more than this by his terminology. according to this view he chose a different formula from the Jesuit writers, partly because he thought his own terms more exact, and, partly to save his teaching and his congregation as far as possible from the State persecution which after 1764 had already fallen so heavily on the Society of Jesus, and in 1773 was formally to suppress it. It is a matter for friendly controversy, but it seems there was a real difference, though not as great in practice as is supposed, between the Saint's later teaching and that current in the Society. Alphonsus was a lawyer, and as a lawyer he attached much importance to the weight of evidence. In a civl action a serious preponderance of evidence gives one side the case. If civil courts could not decide against a defendant on greater probability, but had to wait, as a criminal court must wait, for moral certainty, many actions would never be decided at all. St. Alphonsus likened the conflict between law and liberty to a civil action in which the law has the onus pro-bandi, although greater probabilities give it a verdict. Pure probabilism likens it to a criminal trial, in which the jury must find in favour of liberty (the prisoner at the bar) if any single reasonable doubt whatever remain in its favour. Furthermore, St. Alphonsus was a great theologian, and so attached much weight to intrinsic probability. He was not afraid of making up his mind. "I follow my conscience", he wrote in 1764, "and when reason persuades me I make little account of moralists." To follow an opinion in favour of liberty without weighing it, merely because it is held by someone else would have seemed to Alphonsus an abdication of the judicial office with which as a confessor he was invested. Still it must in fairness be admitted that all priests are not great theologians able to estimate intrinsic probability at its true worth, and the Church herself might be held to have conceded something to pure probabilism by the unprecedented honours she paid to the Saint in her Decree of 22 July, 1831, which allows confessors to follow any of st. Alphonsus's own opinions without weighing the reasons on which they were based.
Besides his Moral Theology, the Saint wrote a large number of dogmatic and ascetical works nearly all in the vernacular. The "Glories of Mary", "The Selva", The True Spouse of Christ", "The Great Means of Prayer", "The Way of Salvation", "Opera Dogmatica, or History of the Council of Trent", and "Sermons for all the Sundays in the Year", are the best known. He was also a poet and musician. His hymns are justly celebrated in Italy. Quite recently, a duet composed by him, between the Soul and God, was found in the British Museum bearing the date 1760 and containing a correction in his own handwriting. Finally, St. Alphonsus was a wonderful letter-writer, and the mere salvage of his correspondence amounts to 1,451 letters, filling three large volumes. It is not necessary to notice certain non-Catholic attacks on Alphonsus as a patron of lying. St. Alphonsus was so scrupulous about truth that 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." It will be remembered that even as a young man his chief distress at his breakdown in court was the fear that his mistake might be ascribed to deceit. The question as to what does or does not constitute a lie is not an easy one, but it is a subject in itself. Alphonsus said nothing in his "Moral Theology" which is not the common teaching of Catholic theologians


SOURCE: the Catholic Encyclopedia