18th Sunday in
Ordinary Time – C
My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory Memorial and full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion]
is Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, 1696-1787, whose Feast Day is August 1. He is depicted as a young priest, bent over with rheumatism, or as a Bishop with tomes of law and/or theological books, a Crucifix or image of our Blessed Mother.
Born Alphonsus Marie Antony John Cosmos Damien Michael Gaspard de Liguori on September 27, 1696, near Naples, Italy, the oldest of seven children, he earned a doctorate in canon [church] and civil law by age 16 and by 19 practiced law! Against his wealthy family’s wishes, he became a Priest – but heeded their request that he NOT go to a foreign mission. He founded the Redemptorists, who brought healthy, orthodox Catholic teaching and secular skills to the indigent in the Naples area. Here’s how his orations honor him:
Collect – Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop & Doctor
O God, who constantly raise up in your Church new examples of virtue, grant that we may follow so closely in the footsteps of the
Bishop Saint Alphonsus in his zeal for souls as to attain the same rewards that are his in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ … and ever. Amen.
A POSITIVE AMONG NEGATIVES. In Liguori’s days, the Church was plagued by a heresy called Jansenism; its hopeless viewpoint dismissed us off as unredeemable, condemned creatures. To combat this poisoned view of humanity, Liguori used Parish Missions, faith formation groups and the Confessional to focus on God’s mercy and forgiveness. In his homilies and writings he highlighted God’s compassionate grace, countering the strict legalism and minimalism Jesus also condemned. Though he tried to reject the honor, he was made Bishop at age 66, and despite ill health, reformed his Diocese. His Collect asks: what do we do to better
know and spread the joys of Catholicism in a world that sees us as the problem, not as the solution.
Prayer over the Offerings – Alphonsus Liguori
Be pleased, O Lord, to enkindle our hearts
with the celestial fire of your Spirit,
just as you granted that Saint Alphonsus
should celebrate these mysteries and by them offer himself to you as a holy sacrifice.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
CELESTIAL FIRE OF THE SPIRIT. When the Holy Spirit enters us at Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Ordination, or non-sacramentally, He expects us to do what our Blessed Mother, the Apostles and first disciples did with the Gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The Spirit expects us to be set
with His love, as did the holy men and women who went before us.
To many, Alphonsus Liguori is synonymous with his still popular version of the Stations of the Cross. Unique for their time, they explain what happened to Jesus – and OUR part in Christ’s Passion and Death. His reflections ask: as Pilate and the Romans, the Jews and the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus, who do we American Catholics condemn? Do we, like Peter, deny; like Judas, betray; like the disciples, abandon anyone? Do we, like Simon, help others carry their cross; like Veronica, comfort the dying; like Joseph of Arimathea, bury the dead? Do we allow His Mother to comfort us, as she consoled Jesus, when we walk in the valley of tears? [When did you last pray the Stations of the Cross, which can easily be found and prayed online these days?]
Prayer after Communion – Alphonsus Liguori
O God, who gave us Saint Alphonsus to be
a faithful steward and preacher of this great mystery, grant that your faithful may receive it often and, receiving it, praise you without end.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
WE BECOME WHAT WE EAT. This prayer asks what I often ask: how could anyone ignore the invitation to come to Mass each week to be fed at the two tables: the AMBO, the teaching table of God’s Word … and the ALTAR, the table of the Divine Banquet? Saint Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us … and may WE never miss Mass!
In His holy Name,
Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS