SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI Bishop and Doctor of the Church (1696-1787)
Saint Alphonsus was born near Naples, in 1696. He was a devout child and also a prodigy in many ways. At sixteen he became a doctor in civil law; and upon entering this career he met great success and fame A mistake, however, by which he lost an important case, showed him the vanity of human fame and glory. He decided to abandon the legal profession at the age of twenty-seven, to serve God alone.
Saint Alphonsus was ordained a priest in 1726, and he soon became as renowned a preacher as he had been a lawyer. He was an excellent confessor, and wrote a manual which has been used ever since for the instruction of those who administer the sacrament of Penance. A musician, Saint Alphonsus gave up his instruments to devote himself more perfectly to his priestly duties; he nonetheless composed joyous religious hymns for the poor folk he heard singing in the streets, that they might glorify God and not waste their voices and efforts in vain and worldly songs.
He later founded the missionary Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, for the evangelization of the poor. At the age of sixty-six he became Bishop of Saint Agatha and undertook the reform of his diocese . He made a vow never to waste a moment of time, and, though his life was spent in prayer and work, he also wrote many books. These volumes were filled with such great wisdom that in 1871 he was declared by Pius IX a Doctor of the Church.
Saint Alphonsus wrote his first book at the age of forty-nine, and in his eighty-third year had published about sixty volumes; at that time his director forbade him to continue writing. The best known of his books is his volume entitled “The Glories of Mary”, by which he exalts the graces and narrates the wondrous deeds of mercy of the Mother of God for those who invoke Her. He is also well known for his writings on the Holy Eucharist.
St. Alphonsus lived a long life and he came to know much suffering in his later years with arthritis and is the patron of those who suffer with this disease. He died in 1787 at age 91.
Reflection: Let us do with all our heart and attention the duty of each day, leaving to God the result as well as the care of the future.
To Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
My Lord Jesus Christ, Who, through the love which You bear toward men, does remain with them day and night in this Sacrament, full of mercy and love, awaiting, inviting and receiving all who come to visit You, I believe that You are present in the Sacrament of the Altar.
From the abyss of my nothingness, I adore You. I thank You for all the graces which You have bestowed upon me, particularly for having given me Yourself in this Sacrament, for having given my Your most holy Mother Mary for my advocate, and for having called me to visit You in this church.
I pay my homage to Your most loving Heart for these three ends: first in thanksgiving for this great Gift; second to make amends to You for all the outrages which You do receive in this Sacrament from all Your enemies; third I intend by this visit to adore You in all the places on earth in which You are present in this Sacrament and in which You are the least honored and the most abandoned.
My Jesus, I love You with my whole heart. I am sorry for having offended Your infinite goodness so many times. I purpose, with the help of Your grace, never more to offend You; and, at this moment, mniserable as I am, I consecrate my whole being to You.
I give You my entire will, all my affections and desires and all that I have. From this day forward, do what You will with me and with everything that belongs to me.
I ask and desire only Your holy love, the gift of final perseverance and the perfect fulfillment of Your will. I commend to You the souls in Purgatory, particularly those who were most devoted to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary; and I also commend to You all poor sinners.
Finally, my dear Saviour, I unite all my affections with the affections of Your most loving Heart; and thus united, I offer them to Your Eternal Father, and I entreat Him, in Your Name and for Your sake, to accept and answer them. Amen.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are truly in the Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart as though You have already come. I embrace You and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from You!
I say that it is the will of God that all graces should come to us by the hands of Mary.
Sooner would heaven and earth be destroyed than would Mary fail to assist anyone who asks for her help, provided he does so with a good intention and with confidence in her.
When we have recourse to this Divine Mother, not only we may be sure of her protection, but that often we shall be heard more quickly, and be thus preserved, if we have recourse to Mary and call on her holy name, than we should be if we called on the name of Jesus our Savior. And the reason is that to Jesus, as a Judge, it belongs also to punish; but mercy alone belongs to the Blessed Virgin as a patroness. Meaning, that we more easily find salvation by having recourse to the Mother than by going to the Son–not as if Mary was more powerful than her Son to save us, for we know that Jesus Christ is our only Savior, and that He alone by His merits has obtained and obtains salvation for us; but it is for this reason: that when we have recourse to Jesus, we consider Him at the same time as our Judge, to whom it belongs to chastise ungrateful souls, and therefore the ,confidence necessary to be heard may fail us but when we go to Mary, who has no other office than to compassionate us as Mother of mercy, and to defend us as our advocate, our confidence is more easily established, and is often greater.
We often obtain more promptly what we ask by calling on the name of Mary than by invoking that of Jesus. Her Son is Lord and Judge of all, and discerns the merits of each one; and therefore if He does not immediately grant the prayers of all, He is just. When, however, the Mother's name is invoked, though the merits of the suppliant are not such as to deserve that his prayer should be granted, those of the Mother supply that he may receive, Many things are asked from God, and are not granted but if they are asked from Mary, and are obtained. And how is this? It is because God has thus decreed to honor His Mother.
It is impossible for a client of Mary, who is faithful in honoring and recommending himself to her, to be lost. To some this proposition may appear, at first sight, exaggerated; but anyone to whom this might seem to be the case I would beg to suspend his judgment, and, first of all, read what I have to say on this subject. When we say that it is impossible for a client of Mary to be lost, we must not be understood as speaking of those clients who take advantage of this devotion that they may sin more freely.
And therefore, those who disapprove of the great praises bestowed on the clemency of this most Blessed Virgin, because it causes the wicked to take advantage of it to sin with greater freedom, do without foundation, for such presumptive people deserve chastisement, and not mercy, for their rash confidence. It is therefore to be understood of those clients who, with a sincere desire to amend, are faithful in honoring and recommending themselves to the Mother of God. It is, I say, morally impossible that such as these should be lost.