St Alphonsus (1 August)
St Alphonsus Liguori was born near Naples in 1696. He became a successful barrister but when a careless mistake led him to lose an important case, he began to question his path in life. Visiting a hospital for incurable diseases one day, he heard an interior voice: ‘Leave the world and give yourself to me.’ He went into a nearby church, put his gentleman’s sword on the altar and started training for the Priesthood.
The saint soon won renown as a preacher (it was said that he ‘never preached a sermon which the simplest old woman could not understand’) and a compassionate confessor, treating his penitents as souls in need of God’s love. He founded the Redemptorists, a congregation of priests who specialised in preaching missions to remote areas, and an order of female religious, the Redemptoristines. In later life, St Alphonsus became a bishop and suffered much – he was nearly crippled by rheumatic fever, he suffered a spiritual crisis in which he doubted almost every article of faith and he even faced rejection from the very Congregation that he had founded. He died in 1787, in his 91st year.
St Alphonsus is perhaps best remembered for the many books he published. He made a personal vow never to waste a single moment of time and wrote his books whenever he was not preaching missions in the countryside or doing his work as a priest, religious superior and bishop. Often he would hold his pen in his right hand and with his left press a piece of cold marble to his aching head.
Let us follow his example, doing our daily duties with all our heart and leaving the result to God. ‘Remember that what can be done today cannot be done tomorrow,’ he wrote, ‘for time past never returns.’
St Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us