ST. ALPHONSUS, PATRON SAINT OF CONFESSORS AND MORALISTS
VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2011 (VIS REPORT) - In this Wednesday's general audience, celebrated in St Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about St. Alphonsus Maria of Liguori, bishop, Doctor of the Church and "outstanding moral theologian and master of spiritual life".
"St. Alphonsus was born in 1696 to a rich and noble Neapolitan family", and undertook a brilliant career as a lawyer, which he abandoned in order to become a priest in 1726. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Holy Father explained that the saint "began his work of evangelisation and catechesis at the most humble levels of Neapolitan society, to whom he enjoyed preaching and whom he instructed in the basic truths of the faith".
In 1732 he founded the religious congregation of the Holy Redeemer. Its members, "under the guidance of Alphonsus, were genuine itinerant missionaries, who travelled to the remotest villages exhorting conversion to the faith and perseverance in Christian life, above all by means of prayer".
Benedict XVI recalled that St. Alphonsus died in 1787, was canonised in 1839 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1871. This title was granted for a number of reasons. Firstly, for his valuable teachings in the field of moral theology, which accurately expressed Catholic doctrine and on account of which Pius XII proclaimed him as "patron of all confessors and moralists".
"St. Alphonsus", continued the Pope, "never tired of repeating that priests were a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God, Who pardons and illuminates the minds and hearts of sinners that they might convert and change their lives. In our age, in which there are clear signs of a loss of moral conscience and - it is necessary to note with some concern - a certain lack of respect for the Sacrament of Confession, the teaching of St. Alphonsus remains valid".
The Holy Father explained that, "along with his theological works, St. Alphonsus composed many other writings which contributed to the religious formation of the people, such as 'Eternal Maxims', the 'Glories of Mary' and the 'Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ'. This last work represented a synthesis of his thought and is his masterpiece".
The Pope emphasised that the Neapolitan saint "insisted on the need for prayer", and remarked that "among the forms of prayer recommended by St. Alphonsus, most important was the visit to the Blessed Sacrament or, as we would say nowadays, adoration - brief or sustained, personal or communal - of the Eucharist".
"Alphonsus' spirituality was eminently Christological, centred upon Christ and His Gospel. Meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation and of the Passion of the Lord were frequently subjects of his teachings. ... His piety was also markedly Marian. Personally devoted to Mary, he emphasised her role in the history of salvation".
Benedict XVI concluded his catechesis by commenting that "St. Alphonsus of Liguori was an example of a zealous priest who won souls by teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, and by his own gentle and mild manner which originated from his intense rapport with God's infinite goodness. He had a realistically optimistic view of the resources the Lord grants to every man, and gave importance to affections and sentiments of the heart, as well as to the mind, in loving God and others".
VATICAN CITY, 30 MAR 2011 (VIS) - During the language greetings following his catechesis at this morning's general audience, Benedict XVI mentioned the people of Ivory Coast "traumatised by painful internal conflicts and grave social and political tensions.
"While I express my closeness to all those who have lost a loved one or suffer as a result of the violence", he said in French, "I make an urgent appeal for the process of constructive dialogue for the common good to begin as quickly as possible. The dramatic clashes necessitate the urgent restoration of respect and peaceful co-existence. Every effort must be made to this end.
"With these sentiments, I have decided to send to that noble country Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, present of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to express my solidarity and that of the Universal Church with the victims of the conflict, and to encourage reconciliation and peace".
Then, speaking Ukrainian, he greeted His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, recently elected as major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc, and the accompanying bishops and faithful of the Greek-Ukrainian Catholic Church, assuring them of his "constant prayer that the Holy Trinity may bring abundance, and confirm in peace and harmony the beloved Ukrainian nation".
"The Lord", said the Holy Father, addressing the new archbishop, "has called you to the service and guidance of this noble Church, which is a part of the people who for over a thousand years have received Baptism at Kyiv. I am sure that, illuminated by the work of the Holy Spirit, you will preside over your Church, guiding her in faith in Jesus Christ in accordance with her own tradition and spirituality, in communion with the See of Peter which is the visible bond of that unity for which so many of her children have not hesitated even to lay down their lives".