St. Alphonsus Liguori

 

Alphonsus the Man

Alphonsus inherited a sense of strict discipline from his father and a sense of joy and sweetness from the "tender heart of his Neapolitan mother." These two dominant characteristics permeated his education, his achievements, and his life experiences to make Alphonsus the man. He was remarkably successful as a lawyer, hospital minister, preacher of missions, artist, musician, poet, man of letters, spiritual director, founder of the Redemptorist Congregation, moral theologian, bishop, doctor of the Church, mystic and saint. All of these accomplishments were consummated in one mission: the mission of Jesus.

Alphonsus the Saint

Early in his career, becoming disillusioned with the system of justice, Alphonsus abandoned his practice of law. Then, as a member of the Confraternity of Doctors, he helped care for the sick in the hospital of the Incurables. This experience greatly affected the young, sensitive Alphonsus. It was here, in 1723, he heard the words: "Leave the world and give yourself to me." He left the hospital that night and committed his life to God as a priest, doing his theological studies at home. For several years he was successfully immersed in missionary work throughout Naples, being noted for his devotion to the Eucharist. It was in the hills of Scala, however, while recuperating from an illness, that Alphonsus discerned his true calling: to bring the Gospel to the poorest and most abandoned of society. This decision led him to the world of the poor, a time in his life in which he personified his own words: "Enlarge your heart. We are dealing with a God who is full of love." It was the experience of the poor that would lead Alphonsus to a new experience of Jesus the Redeemer. He identified totally with the Redeemer who became poor that we might become rich.

Alphonsus the Patron

It was through Louis Florent Gillet, Redemptorist priest and co-founder of the Sisters of IHM that we have been gifted with the legacy of St. Alphonsus Liguori. That legacy is the participation in the redemptive mission of Jesus. It is the following of Jesus as a community of disciples, aware that we are sent to be a clear and understandable prophetic witness to the presence of God in the world. Like Alphonsus, we have heard the cry of the abandoned poor in our society. Like Alphonsus, we reach out. Like Alphonsus, we journey in passionate pursuit of Jesus' mission.