SUNDAY, AUGUST 1, 1999
Though today's Feast is superseded by the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, it is traditionally the Feast of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop, Religious Founder and Doctor of the Church:
First Reading: Isaiah 55: 1-3
Psalms: Psalm 145: 8-9, 15-18
Second Reading: Romans 8: 35, 37-39
Gospel Reading: Matthew 14: 13-21
FEAST OF SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI, BISHOP, RELIGIOUS FOUNDER AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Continuing in this month rampant with Religious Founders, we celebrate the life of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who founded the Redemptorists in 1732 in Tuscany near Naples, Italy where he had been born in 1696. Alphonsus lived a long, productive life, dying at the ripe old age of 91. During this time he became known as the patron of moral theologians and confessors, which was posthumously bestowed on him by the Church in 1839 upon his canonization by Pope Gregory XVI and in 1871 Pope Pius IX proclaimed Alphonsus a Doctor of the Church. Alphonsus, a learned man with a law degree, spurned the world and was ordained a priest in 1726 at the age of 30. At first he had designs on becoming an Oratorian but decided against it in favor of remaining a diocesan priest. As Providence would have it, while training missionaries at the local college seminary, Alphonsus met Father Tom Falcoia who was sponsoring an order of nuns. Fr. Falcoia would later become the bishop. While preaching a retreat to Fr. Falcoia's nuns, one of the nuns confided in Fr. Alphonsus a vision she had had about the order. After much prayer Alphonsus discerned this message was from Heaven and, with Fr. Falcoia's consent, set about to fulfill the message which concerned changing the rule and habit. It was the beginning of the Redemptoristines. Pleased with Alphonsus' direction, Bishop Falcoia asked him to begin an order of priests in the same vein. Thus began the Redemptorists or Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer which was approved by Pope Benedict XIV in 1749 despite early dissension and opposition from jealous ecclesiatics. Throughout his lifetime Alphonsus was a master moral theologian, publishing many of his works and inspiring many. In 1762, against his wishes because he would have to relinquish control as Superior General of his congregation, he was consecrated Bishop of Benevento. There he served Holy Mother Church until, at the age of 79 he retired to a village near Naples where he suffered mental, physical and spiritual pangs because of the dissensions within his beloved congregation he had founded. Saddened, but full of trust in God, he handed it all over to Our Lord and died peacefully in 1787.