Sunday, July 31, 2016

Saint August 1 : St. Alphonsus Liguori : Patron of #Arthritis, #Vocations, and #Theologians

St. Alphonsus Liguori
BISHOP, FOUNDER, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Feast: August 1

Born:
September 27, 1696, Marianella, Campania, Kingdom of Naples (now modern-day Italy)
Died:
August 1, 1787, Pagani, Italy
Canonized:
May 26, 1839, Rome, Italy by Pope Gregory XVI
Patron of:
arthritis, confessors, moralists, theologians, vocations; Naples (co-patron)
Born at Marianella, near Naples, 27 September, 1696; died at Nocera de' Pagani, 1 August, 1787. The eighteenth century was not an age remarkable for depth of spiritual life, yet it produced three of the greatest missionaries of the Church, St. Leonard of Port Maurice, St. Paul of the Cross, and St. Alphonsus Liguori. Alphonsus Mary Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de' Liguori was born in his father's country house at Marianella near Naples, on Tuesday, 27 September, 1696. He was baptized two days later in the church of Our Lady of the Virgins, in Naples. The family was an old and noble one, though the branch to which the Saint belonged had become somewhat impoverished. Alphonsus's father, Don Joseph de Liguori was a naval officer and Captain of the Royal Galleys. The Saint's mother was of Spanish descent, and if, as there can be little doubt, race is an element in individual character, we may see in Alphonsus's Spanish blood some explanation of the enormous tenacity of purpose which distinguished him from his earliest years. "I know his obstinacy", his father said of him as a young man; "when he once makes up his mind he is inflexible". Not many details have come down to us of Alphonsus's childhood. He was the eldest of seven children and the hope of his house. The boy was bright and quick beyond his years, and made great progress in all kinds of learning. In addition his father made him practice the harpsichord for three hours a day, and at the age of thirteen he played with the perfection of a master. Riding and fencing were his recreations, and an evening game of cards; he tells us that he was debarred from being a good shot by his bad sight. In early manhood he became very fond of the opera, but only that he might listen to the music, for when the curtain went up he took his glasses off, so as not to see the players distinctly. The Neapolitan stage at this time was in a good state, but the Saint had from his earliest years an ascetic repugnance to theatres, a repugnance which he never lost. The childish fault for which he most reproached himself in after-life was resisting his father too strongly when he was told to take part in a drawing-room play. Alphonsus was not sent to school but was educated by tutors under his father's eye. At the age of sixteen, on 21 January, 1713, he took his degree as Doctor of Laws, although twenty was the age fixed by the statutes. He said himself that he was so small at the time as to be almost buried in his doctor's gown and that all the spectators laughed. Soon after this the boy began his studies for the Bar, and about the age of nineteen practised his profession in the courts. In the eight years of his career as advocate, years crowded with work, he is said never to have lost a case. Even if there be some exaggeration in this, for it is not in an advocate's power always to be on the winning side, the tradition shows that he was extraordinarily able and successful. In fact, despite his youth, he seems at the age of twenty-seven to have been one of the leaders of the Neapolitan Bar.
Alphonsus, like so many saints, had an excellent father and a saintly mother. Don Joseph de' Liguori had his faults. He was somewhat worldly and ambitious, at any rate for his son, and was rough tempered when opposed. But he was a man of genuine faith and piety and stainless life, and he meant his son to be the same. Even when taking him into society in order to arrange a good marriage for him, he wished Alphonsus to put God first, and every year father and son would make a retreat together in some religious house. Alphonsus, assisted by divine grace, did not disappoint his father's care. A pure and modest boyhood passed into a manhood without reproach. A companion, Balthasar Cito, who afterwards became a distinguished judge, was asked in later years if Alphonsus had ever shown signs of levity in his youth. He answered emphatically: "Never! It would be a sacrilege to say otherwise." The Saint's confessor declared that he preserved his baptismal innocence till death. Still there was a time of danger. There can be little doubt but that the young Alphonsus with his high spirits and strong character was ardently attached to his profession, and on the way to be spoilt by the success and popularity which it brought. About the year 1722, when he was twenty-six years old, he began to go constantly into society, to neglect prayer and the practices of piety which had been an integral part of his life, and to take pleasure in the attention with which he was everywhere received. "Banquets, entertainments, theatres," he wrote later on—"these are the pleasures of the world, but pleasures which are filled with the bitterness of gall and sharp thorns. Believe me who have experienced it, and now weep over it." In all this there was no serious sin, but there was no high sanctity either, and God, Who wished His servant to be a saint and a great saint, was now to make him take the road to Damascus. In 1723 there was a lawsuit in the courts between a Neapolitan nobleman, whose name has not come down to us, and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, in which property valued at 500,000 ducats, that to say, $500,000 or 100,000 pounds, was at stake. Alphonsus was one of the leading counsel; we do not know on which side. When the day came the future Saint made a brilliant opening speech and sat down confident of victory. But before he called a witness the opposing counsel said to him in chilling tones: "Your arguments are wasted breath. You have overlooked a document which destroys your whole case." "What document is that?" said Alphonsus somewhat piqued. "Let us have it." A piece of evidence was handed to him which he had read and re-read many times, but always in a sense the exact contrary of that which he now saw it to have. The poor advocate turned pale. He remained thunderstruck for a moment; then said in a broken voice: "You are right. I have been mistaken. This document gives you the case." In vain those around him and even the judge on the bench tried to console him. He was crushed to the earth. He thought his mistake would be ascribed not to oversight but to deliberate deceit. He felt as if his career was ruined, and left the court almost beside himself, saying: "World, I know you now. Courts, you shall never see me more." For three days he refused all food. Then the storm subsided, and he began to see that his humiliation had been sent him by God to break down his pride and wean him from the world. Confident that some special sacrifice was required of him, though he did not yet know what, he did not return to his profession, but spent his days in prayer, seeking to know God's will. After a short interval—we do not know exactly how long—the answer came. On 28 August, 1723, the young advocate had gone to perform a favourite act of charity by visiting the sick in the Hospital for Incurables. Suddenly he found himself surrounded by a mysterious light; the house seemed to rock, and an interior voice said: "Leave the world and give thyself to Me." This occurred twice. Alphonsus left the Hospital and went to the church of the Redemption of Captives. Here he laid his sword before the statue of Our Lady, and made a solemn resolution to enter the ecclesiastical state, and furthermore to offer himself as a novice to the Fathers of the Oratory. He knew that trials were before him. His father, already displeased at the failure of two plans for his son's marriage, and exasperated at Alphonsus's present neglect of his profession, was likely to offer a strenuous opposition to his leaving the world. So indeed it proved. He had to endure a real persecution for two months. In the end a compromise was arrived at. Don Joseph agreed to allow his son to become a priest, provided he would give up his proposal joining the Oratory, and would continue to live at home. To this Alphonsus by the advice of his director, Father Thomas Pagano, himself an Oratorian, agreed. Thus was he left free for his real work, the founding of a new religious congregation. On 23 October of the same year, 1723, the Saint put on the clerical dress. In September of the next year he received the tonsure and soon after joined the association of missionary secular priests called the "Neapolitan Propaganda", membership of which did not entail residence in common. In December, 1724, he received minor orders, and the sub-diaconate in September, 1725. On 6 April, 1726, he was ordained deacon, and soon after preached his first sermon. On 21 December of the same year, at the age of thirty, he was ordained priest. For six years he laboured in and around Naples, giving missions for the Propaganda and preaching to the lazzaroni of the capital. With the aid of two laymen, Peter Barbarese, a schoolmaster, and Nardone, an old soldier, both of whom he converted from an evil life, he enrolled thousands of lazzaroni in a sort of confraternity called the "Association of the Chapels", which exists to this day. Then God called him to his life work.
In April 1729, the Apostle of China, Matthew Ripa, founded a missionary college in Naples, which became known colloquially as the "Chinese College". A few months later Alphonsus left his father's house and went to live with Ripa, without, however, becoming a member of his society. In his new abode he met a friend of his host's, Father Thomas Falcoia, of the Congregation of the "Pii Operarii" (Pious Workers), and formed with him the great friendship of his life. There was a considerable difference in age between the two men, for Falcoia, born in 1663, was now sixty-six, and Alphonsus only thirty-three, but the old priest and the young had kindred souls. Many years before, in Rome, Falcoia had been shown a vision of a new religious family of men and women whose particular aim should be the perfect imitation of the virtues of Our Lord. He had even tried to form a branch of the Institute by uniting twelve priests in a common life at Tarentum, but the community soon broke up. In 1719, together with a Father Filangieri, also one of the "Pii Operarii", he had refounded a Conservatorium of religious women at Scala on the mountains behind Amalfi. But as he drew up a rule for them, formed from that of the Visitation nuns, he does not seem to have had any clear idea of establishing the new institute of his vision. God, however, intended the new institute to begin with these nuns of Scala. In 1724, soon after Alphonsus left the world, a postulant, Julia Crostarosa, born in Naples on 31 October, 1696, and hence almost the same age as the Saint, entered the convent of Scala. She became known in religion as Sister Maria Celeste. In 1725, while still a novice, she had a series of visions in which she saw a new order (apparently of nuns only) similar to that revealed to Falcoia many years before. Even its Rule was made known to her. She was told to write it down and show it to the director of the convent, that is to Falcoia himself. While affecting to treat the novice with severity and to take no notice of her visions, the director was surprised to find that the Rule which she had written down was a realization of what had been so long in his mind. He submitted the new Rule to a number of theologians, who approved of it, and said it might be adopted in the convent of Scala, provided the community would accept it. But when the question was put to the community, opposition began. Most were in favour of accepting, but the superior objected and appealed to Filangieri, Falcoia's colleague in establishing the convent, and now, as General of the "Pii Operarii", his superior. Filangieri forbade any change of rule and removed Falcoia from all communication with the convent. Matters remained thus for some years. About 1729, however, Filangieri died, and on 8 October, 1730, Falcoia was consecrated Bishop of Castellamare. He was now free, subject to the approval of the Bishop of Scala, to act with regard to the convent as he thought best. It happened that Alphonsus, ill and overworked, had gone with some companions to Scala in the early summer of 1730. Unable to be idle, he had preached to the goatherds of the mountains with such success that Nicolas Guerriero, Bishop of Scala, begged him to return and give a retreat in his cathedral. Falcoia, hearing of this, begged his friend to give a retreat to the nuns of his Conservatorium at the same time. Alphonsus agreed to both requests and set out with his two friends, John Mazzini and Vincent Mannarini, in September, 1730. The result of the retreat to the nuns was that the young priest, who before had been prejudiced by reports in Naples against the proposed new Rule, became its firm supporter, and even obtained permission from the Bishop of Scala for the change. In 1731, the convent unanimously adopted the new Rule, together with a habit of red and blue, the traditional colours of Our Lord's own dress. One branch of the new Institute seen by Falcoia in vision was thus established. The other was not to be long delayed. No doubt Thomas Falcoia had for some time hoped that the ardent young priest, who was so devoted to him, might, under his direction, be the founder of the new Order he had at heart. a fresh vision of Sister Maria Celeste seemed to show that such was the will of God. On 3 October, 1731, the eve of the feast of St. Francis, she saw Our Lord with St. Francis on His right hand and a priest on His left. A voice said "This is he whom I have chosen to be head of My Institute, the Prefect General of a new Congregation of men who shall work for My glory." The priest was Alphonsus. Soon after, Falcoia made known to the latter his vocation to leave Naples and establish an order of missionaries at Scala, who should work above all for the neglected goatherds of the mountains. A year of trouble and anxiety followed. The Superior of the Propaganda and even Falcoia's friend, Matthew Ripa, opposed the project with all their might. But Alphonsus's director, Father Pagano; Father Fiorillo, a great Dominican preacher; Father Manulio, Provincial of the Jesuits; and Vincent Cutica, Superior of the Vincentians, supported the young priest, and, 9 November, 1732, the "Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer", or as it was called for seventeen years, "of the Most Holy Saviour", was begun in a little hospice belonging to the nuns of Scala. Though St. Alphonsus was founder and de facto head of the Institute, its general direction in the beginning, as well as the direction of Alphonsus's conscience, was undertaken by the Bishop of Castellamare and it was not till the latter's death, 20 April, 1743, that a general chapter was held and the Saint was formally elected Superior-General. In fact, in the beginning, the young priest in his humility would not be Superior even of the house, judging one of his companions, John Baptist Donato, better fitted for the post because he had already had some experience of community life in another institute.
The early years, following the founding of the new order, were not promising. Dissensions arose, the Saint's former friend and chief companion, Vincent Mannarini, opposing him and Falcoia in everything. On 1 April, 1733, all the companions of Alphonsus except one lay brother, Vitus Curtius, abandoned him, and founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, which, confined to the Kingdom of Naples, was extinguished in 1860 by the Italian Revolution. The dissensions even spread to the nuns, and Sister Maria Celeste herself left Scala and founded a convent at Foggia, where she died in the odour of sanctity, 14 September, 1755. She was declared Venerable 11 August, 1901. Alphonsus, however, stood firm; soon other companions arrived, and though Scala itself was given up by the Fathers in 1738, by 1746 the new Congregation had four houses at Nocera de' Pagani, Ciorani, Iliceto (now Deliceto), and Caposele, all in the Kingdom of Naples. In 1749, the Rule and Institute of men were approved by Pope Benedict XIV, and in 1750, the Rule and Institute of the nuns. Alphonsus was lawyer, founder, religious superior, bishop, theologian, and mystic, but he was above all a missionary, and no true biography of the Saint will neglect to give this due prominence. From 1726 to 1752, first as a member of the Neapolitan "Propaganda", and then as a leader of his own Fathers, he traversed the provinces of Naples for the greater part of each year giving missions even in the smallest villages and saving many souls. a special feature of his method was the return of the missionaries, after an interval of some months, to the scene of their labours to consolidate their work by what was called the "renewal of a mission." After 1752 Alphonsus gave fewer missions. His infirmities were increasing, and he was occupied a good deal with his writings. His promotion to the episcopate in 1762 led to a renewal of his missionary activity, but in a slightly different form. The Saint had four houses, but during his lifetime it not only became impossible in the Kingdom of Naples to get any more, but even the barest toleration for those he had could scarcely be obtained. The cause of this was "regalism", the omnipotence of kings even in matters spiritual, which was the system of government in Naples as in all the Bourbon States. The immediate author of what was practically a lifelong persecution of the Saint was the Marquis Tanucci, who entered Naples in 1734. Naples had been part of the dominions of Spain since 1503, but in 1708 when Alphonsus was twelve years old, it was conquered by Austria during the war of the Spanish Succession. In 1734, however, it was reconquered by Don Carlos, the young Duke of Parma, great-grandson of Louis XIV, and the independent Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was established. With Don Carlos, or as he is generally called, Charles III, from his later title as King of Spain, came the lawyer, Bernard Tanucci, who governed Naples as Prime Minister and regent for the next forty-two years. This was to be a momentous revolution for Alphonsus. Had it happened a few years later, the new Government might have found the Redemptorist Congregation already authorized, and as Tanucci's anti-clerical policy rather showed itself in forbidding new Orders than, with the exception of the Society of Jesus, in suppressing old ones, the Saint might have been free to develop his work in comparative peace. As it was, he was refused the royal exequatur to the Brief of Benedict XIV, and State recognition of his Institute as a religious congregation till the day of his death. There were whole years, indeed, in which the Institute seemed on the verge of summary suppression. The suffering which this brought on Alphonsus, with his sensitive and high-strung disposition, was very great, besides what was worse, the relaxation of discipline and loss of vocations which it caused in the Order itself. Alphonsus, however, was unflagging in his efforts with the Court. It may be he was even too anxious, and on one occasion when he was over-whelmed by a fresh refusal, his friend the Marquis Brancone, Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs and a man of deep piety, said to him gently: "It would seem as if you placed all your trust here below"; on which the Saint recovered his peace of mind.
 A final attempt to gain the royal approval, which seemed as if at last it had been successful, led to the crowning sorrow of Alphonsus's life: the division and apparent ruin of his Congregation and the displeasure of the Holy See. This was in 1780, when Alphonsus was eighty-three years old. But, before relating the episode of the "Regolamento", as it is called, we must speak of the period of the Saint's episcopate which intervened.
In the year 1747, King Charles of Naples wished to make Alphonsus Archbishop of Palermo, and it was only by the most earnest entreaties that he was able to escape. In 1762, there was no escape and he was constrained by formal obedience to the Pope to accept the Bishopric of St. Agatha of the Goths, a very small Neapolitan diocese lying a few miles off the road from Naples to Capua. Here with 30,000 uninstructed people, 400 mostly indifferent and sometimes scandalous secular clergy, and seventeen more or less relaxed religious houses to look after, in a field so overgrown with weeds that they seemed the only crop, he wept and prayed and spent days and nights in unremitting labour for thirteen years. More than once he faced assassination unmoved. In a riot which took place during the terrible famine that fell upon Southern Italy in 1764, he saved the life of the syndic of St. Agatha by offering his own to the mob. He fed the poor, instructed the ignorant, reorganized his seminary, reformed his convents, created a new spirit in his clergy, banished scandalous noblemen and women of evil life with equal impartiality, brought the study of theology and especially of moral theology into honour, and all the time was begging pope after pope to let him resign his office because he was doing nothing for his diocese. To all his administrative work we must add his continual literary labours, his many hours of daily prayer, his terrible austerities, and a stress of illness which made his life a martyrdom. Eight times during his long life, without counting his last sickness, the Saint received the sacraments of the dying, but the worst of all his illnesses was a terrible attack of rheumatic fever during his episcopate, an attack which lasted from May, 1768, to June, 1769, and left him paralyzed to the end of his days. It was this which gave St. Alphonsus the bent head which we notice in the portraits of him. So bent was it in the beginning, that the pressure of his chin produced a dangerous wound in the chest. Although the doctors succeeded in straightening the neck a little, the Saint for the rest of his life had to drink at meals through a tube. He could never have said Mass again had not an Augustinian prior shown him how to support himself on a chair so that with the assistance of an acolyte he could raise the chalice to his lips. But in spite of his infirmities both Clement XIII (1758-69) and Clement XIV (1769-74) obliged Alphonsus to remain at his post. In February, 1775, however, Pius VI was elected Pope, and the following May he permitted the Saint to resign his see.
Alphonsus returned to his little cell at Nocera in July, 1775, to prepare, as he thought, for a speedy and happy death. Twelve years, however, still separated him from his reward, years for the most part not of peace but of greater afflictions than any which had yet befallen him. By 1777, the Saint, in addition to four houses in Naples and one in Sicily, had four others at Scifelli, Frosinone, St. Angelo a Cupclo, and Beneventum, in the States of the Church. In case things became hopeless in Naples, he looked to these houses to maintain the Rule and Institute. In 1780, a crisis arose in which they did this, yet in such a way as to bring division in the Congregation and extreme suffering and disgrace upon its founder. The crisis arose in this way. From the year 1759 two former benefactors of the Congregation, Baron Sarnelli and Francis Maffei, by one of those changes not uncommon in Naples, had become its bitter enemies, and waged a vendetta against it in the law courts which lasted for twenty-four years. Sarnelli was almost openly supported by the all-powerful Tanucci, and the suppression of the Congregation at last seemed a matter of days, when on 26 October, 1776, Tanucci, who had offended Queen Maria Carolina, suddenly fell from power. Under the government of the Marquis della Sambuca, who, though a great regalist, was a personal friend of the Saint's, there was promise of better times, and in August, 1779, Alphonsus's hopes were raised by the publication of a royal decree allowing him to appoint superiors in his Congregation and to have a novitiate and house of studies. The Government throughout had recognized the good effect of his missions, but it wished the missionaries to be secular priests and not a religious order. 
The Decree of 1779, however, seemed a great step in advance. Alphonsus, having got so much, hoped to get a little more, and through his friend, Mgr. Testa, the Grand Almoner, even to have his Rule approved. He did not, as in the past, ask for an exequatur to the Brief of Benedict XIV, for relations at the time were more strained than ever between the Courts of Rome and Naples; but he hoped the king might give an independent sanction to his Rule, provided he waived all legal right to hold property in common, which he was quite prepared to do. It was all-important to the Fathers to be able to rebut the charge of being an illegal religious congregation, which was one of the chief allegations in the ever-adjourned and ever-impending action by Baron Sarnelli. Perhaps in any case the submission of their Rule to a suspicious and even hostile civil power was a mistake. At all events, it proved disastrous in the result. Alphonsus being so old and so inform—he was eighty-five, crippled, deaf, and nearly blind—his one chance of success was to be faithfully served by friends and subordinates, and he was betrayed at every turn. His friend the Grand Almoner betrayed him; his two envoys for negotiating with the Grand Almoner, Fathers Majone and Cimino, betrayed him, consultors general though they were. His very confessor and vicar general in the government of his Order, Father Andrew Villani, joined in the conspiracy. In the end the Rule was so altered as to be hardly recognizable, the very vows of religion being abolished. To this altered Rule or "Regolamento", as it came to be called, the unsuspecting Saint was induced to put his signature. It was approved by the king and forced upon the stupefied Congregation by the whole power of the State. a fearful commotion arose. Alphonsus himself was not spared. Vague rumours of impending treachery had got about and had been made known to him, but he had refused to believe them. "You have founded the Congregation and you have destroyed it", said one Father to him. The Saint only wept in silence and tried in vain to devise some means by which his Order might be saved. His best plan would have been to consult the Holy See, but in this he had been forestalled. The Fathers in the Papal States, with too precipitate zeal, in the very beginning denounced the change of Rule to Rome. Pius VI, already deeply displeased with the Neapolitan Government, took the fathers in his own dominions under his special protection, forbade all change of rule in their houses, and even withdrew them from obedience to the Neapolitan superiors, that is to St. Alphonsus, till an inquiry could be held. A long process followed in the Court of Rome, and on 22 September, 1780, a provisional Decree, which on 24 August, 1781, was made absolute, recognized the houses in the Papal States as alone constituting the Redemptorist Congregation. Father Francis de Paula, one of the chief appellants, was appointed their Superior General, "in place of those", so the brief ran, "who being higher superiors of the said Congregation have with their followers adopted a new system essentially different from the old, and have deserted the Institute in which they were professed, and have thereby ceased to be members of the Congregation." So the Saint was cut off from his own Order by the Pope who was to declare him "Venerable". In this state of exclusion he lived for seven years more and in it he died. It was only after his death, as he had prophesied, that the Neapolitan Government at last recognized the original Rule, and that the Redemptorist Congregation was reunited under one head (1793).
Alphonsus had still one final storm to meet, and then the end. About three years before his death he went through a veritable "Night of the Soul". Fearful temptations against every virtue crowded upon him, together with diabolical apparitions and illusions, and terrible scruples and impulses to despair which made life a hell. at last came peace, and on 1 August, 1787, as the midday Angelus was ringing, the Saint passed peacefully to his reward. He had nearly completed his ninety-first year. He was declared "Venerable", 4 May, 1796; was beatified in 1816, and canonized in 1839. In 1871, he was declared a Doctor of the Church. "Alphonsus was of middle height", says his first biographer, Tannoia; "his head was rather large, his hair black, and beard well-grown." He had a ;pleasant smile, and his conversation was very agreeable, yet he had great dignity of manner. He was a born leader of men. His devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Lady was extraordinary. He had a tender charity towards all who were in trouble; he would go to any length to try to save a vocation; he would expose himself to death to prevent sin. He had a love for the lower animals, and wild creatures who fled from all else would come to him as to a friend. Psychologically, Alphonsus may be classed among twice-born souls; that is to say, there was a definitely marked break or conversion, in his life, in which he turned, not from serious sin, for that he never committed, but from comparative worldliness, to thorough self-sacrifice for God. Alphonsus's temperament was very ardent. He was a man of strong passions, using the term in the philosophic sense, and tremendous energy, but from childhood his passions were under control. Yet, to take anger alone, though comparatively early in life he seemed dead to insult or injury which affected himself, in cases of cruelty, or of injustice to others, or of dishonour to God, he showed a prophet's indignation even in old age. Ultimately, however, anything merely human in this had disappeared. At the worst, it was only the scaffolding by which the temple of perfection was raised. Indeed, apart from those who become saints by the altogether special grace of martyrdom, it may be doubted if many men and women of phlegmatic temperament have been canonized. The differentia of saints is not faultlessness but driving-power, a driving-power exerted in generous self-sacrifice and ardent love of God. The impulse to this passionate service of God comes from Divine grace, but the soul must correspond (which is also a grace of God), and the soul of strong will and strong passions corresponds best. The difficulty about strong wills and strong passions is that they are hard to tame, but when they are tamed they are the raw material of sanctity.
Not less remarkable than the intensity with which Alphonsus worked is the amount of work he did. His perseverance was indomitable. He both made and kept a vow not to lose a single moment of time. He was helped in this by his turn of mind which was extremely practical. Though a good dogmatic theologian—a fact which has not been sufficiently recognized—he was not a metaphysician like the great scholastics. He was a lawyer, not only during his years at the Bar, but throughout his whole life—a lawyer, who to skilled advocacy and an enormous knowledge of practical detail added a wide and luminous hold of underlying principles. It was this which made him the prince of moral theologians, and gained him, when canonization made it possible, the title of "Doctor of the Church". This combination of practical common sense with extraordinary energy in administrative work ought to make Alphonsus, if he were better known, particularly attractive to the English-speaking nations, especially as he is so modern a saint. But we must not push resemblances too far. If in some things Alphonsus was an Anglo-Saxon, in others he was a Neapolitan of the Neapolitans, though always a saint. He often writes as a Neapolitan to Neapolitans. Were the vehement things in his letters and writings, especially in the matter of rebuke or complaint, to appraised as if uttered by an Anglo-Saxon in cold blood, we might be surprised and even shocked. Neapolitan students, in an animated but amicable discussion, seem to foreign eyes to be taking part in a violent quarrel. St. Alphonsus appeared a miracle of calm to Tannoia. Could he have been what an Anglo-Saxon would consider a miracle of calm, he would have seemed to his companions absolutely inhuman. The saints are not inhuman but real men of flesh and blood, however much some hagiographers may ignore the fact. While the continual intensity of reiterated acts of virtue which we have called driving—power is what really creates sanctity, there is another indispensable quality. The extreme difficulty of the lifelong work of fashioning a saint consists precisely in this, that every act of virtue the saint performs goes to strengthen his character, that is, his will. On the other hand, ever since the Fall of Man, the will of man has been his greatest danger. It has a tendency at every moment to deflect, and if it does deflect from the right path, the greater the momentum the more terrible the final crash. Now the saint has a very great momentum indeed, and a spoiled saint is often a great villain. To prevent the ship going to pieces on the rocks, it has need of a very responsive rudder, answering to the slightest pressure of Divine guidance. The rudder is humility, which, in the intellect, is a realization of our own unworthiness, and in the will, docility to right guidance. But how was Alphonsus to grow in this so necessary virtue when he was in authority nearly all his life? The answer is that God kept him humble by interior trials. From his earliest years he had an anxious fear about committing sin which passed at times into scruple. He who ruled and directed others so wisely, had, where his own soul was concerned, to depend on obedience like a little child. To supplement this, God allowed him in the last years of his life to fall into disgrace with the pope, and to find himself deprived of all external authority, trembling at times even for his eternal salvation. St. Alphonsus does not offer as much directly to the student of mystical theology as do some contemplative saints who have led more retired lives. Unfortunately, he was not obliged by his confessor, in virtue of holy obedience, as St. Teresa was, to write down his states of prayer; so we do not know precisely what they were. The prayer he recommended to his Congregation, of which we have beautiful examples in his ascetical works, is affective; the use of short aspirations, petitions, and acts of love, rather than discursive meditation with long reflection. His own prayer was perhaps for the most part what some call "active", others "ordinary", contemplation. Of extraordinary passive states, such as rapture, there are not many instances recorded in his life, though there are some. At three different times in his missions, while preaching, a ray of light from a picture of Our Lady darted towards him, and he fell into an ecstasy before the people. In old age he was more than once raised in the air when speaking of God. His intercession healed the sick; he read the secrets of hearts, and foretold the future. He fell into a clairvoyant trance at Arienzo on 21 September, 1774, and was present in spirit at the death-bed in Rome of Pope Clement XIV.
It was comparatively late in life that Alphonsus became a writer. If we except a few poems published in 1733 (the Saint was born in 1696), his first work, a tiny volume called "Visits to the Blessed Sacrament", only appeared in 1744 or 1745, when he was nearly fifty years old. Three years later he published the first sketch of his "Moral Theology" in a single quarto volume called "Annotations to Busembaum", a celebrated Jesuit moral theologian. He spent the next few years in recasting this work, and in 1753 appeared the first volume of the "Theologia Moralis", the second volume, dedicated to Benedict XIV, following in 1755. Nine editions of the "Moral Theology" appeared in the Saint's life-time, those of 1748, 1753-1755, 1757, 1760, 1763, 1767, 1773, 1779, and 1785, the "Annotations to Busembaum" counting as the first. In the second edition the work received the definite form it has since retained, though in later issues the Saint retracted a number of opinions, corrected minor ones, and worked at the statement of his theory of Equiprobabilism till at last he considered it complete. In addition, he published many editions of compendiums of his larger work, such as the "Homo Apostolicus", made in 1759. The "Moral Theology", after a historical introduction by the Saint's friend, P. Zaccaria, S.J., which was omitted, however, from the eighth and ninth editions, begins with a treatise "De Conscientia", followed by one "De Legibus". These form the first book of the work, while the second contains the treatises on Faith, Hope, and Charity. The third book deals with the Ten Commandments, the fourth with the monastic and clerical states, and the duties of judges, advocates, doctors, merchants, and others. The fifth book has two treatises "De Actibus Humanis" and "De Peccatis"; the sixth is on the sacraments, the seventh and last on the censures of the Church.
St. Alphonsus as a moral theologian occupies the golden mean between the schools tending either to laxity or to rigour which divided the theological world of his time. When he was preparing for the priesthood in Naples, his masters were of the rigid school, for though the center of Jansenistic disturbance was in northern Europe, no shore was so remote as not to feel the ripple of its waves. When the Saint began to hear confessions, however, he soon saw the harm done by rigorism, and for the rest of his life he inclined more to the mild school of the Jesuit theologians, whom he calls "the masters of morals". St. Alphonsus, however, did not in all things follow their teaching, especially on one point much debated in the schools; namely, whether we may in practice follow an opinion which denies a moral obligation, when the opinion which affirms a moral obligation seems to us to be altogether more probable. This is the great question of "Probabilism". St. Alphonsus, after publishing anonymously (in 1749 and 1755) two treatises advocating the right to follow the less probably opinion, in the end decided against that lawfulness, and in case of doubt only allowed freedom from obligation where the opinions for and against the law were equal or nearly equal. He called his system Equiprobabilism. It is true that theologians even of the broadest school are agreed that, when an opinion in favour of the law is so much more probable as to amount practically to moral certainty, the less probable opinion cannot be followed, and some have supposed that St. Alphonsus meant no more than this by his terminology. according to this view he chose a different formula from the Jesuit writers, partly because he thought his own terms more exact, and, partly to save his teaching and his congregation as far as possible from the State persecution which after 1764 had already fallen so heavily on the Society of Jesus, and in 1773 was formally to suppress it. It is a matter for friendly controversy, but it seems there was a real difference, though not as great in practice as is supposed, between the Saint's later teaching and that current in the Society. Alphonsus was a lawyer, and as a lawyer he attached much importance to the weight of evidence. In a civl action a serious preponderance of evidence gives one side the case. If civil courts could not decide against a defendant on greater probability, but had to wait, as a criminal court must wait, for moral certainty, many actions would never be decided at all. St. Alphonsus likened the conflict between law and liberty to a civil action in which the law has the onus pro-bandi, although greater probabilities give it a verdict. Pure probabilism likens it to a criminal trial, in which the jury must find in favour of liberty (the prisoner at the bar) if any single reasonable doubt whatever remain in its favour. Furthermore, St. Alphonsus was a great theologian, and so attached much weight to intrinsic probability. He was not afraid of making up his mind. "I follow my conscience", he wrote in 1764, "and when reason persuades me I make little account of moralists." To follow an opinion in favour of liberty without weighing it, merely because it is held by someone else would have seemed to Alphonsus an abdication of the judicial office with which as a confessor he was invested. Still it must in fairness be admitted that all priests are not great theologians able to estimate intrinsic probability at its true worth, and the Church herself might be held to have conceded something to pure probabilism by the unprecedented honours she paid to the Saint in her Decree of 22 July, 1831, which allows confessors to follow any of st. Alphonsus's own opinions without weighing the reasons on which they were based.
Besides his Moral Theology, the Saint wrote a large number of dogmatic and ascetical works nearly all in the vernacular. The "Glories of Mary", "The Selva", The True Spouse of Christ", "The Great Means of Prayer", "The Way of Salvation", "Opera Dogmatica, or History of the Council of Trent", and "Sermons for all the Sundays in the Year", are the best known. He was also a poet and musician. His hymns are justly celebrated in Italy. Quite recently, a duet composed by him, between the Soul and God, was found in the British Museum bearing the date 1760 and containing a correction in his own handwriting. Finally, St. Alphonsus was a wonderful letter-writer, and the mere salvage of his correspondence amounts to 1,451 letters, filling three large volumes. It is not necessary to notice certain non-Catholic attacks on Alphonsus as a patron of lying. St. Alphonsus was so scrupulous about truth that when, in 1776, the regalist, Mgr. Filingeri, was made Archbishop of Naples, the Saint would not write to congratulate the new primate, even at the risk of making another powerful enemy for his persecuted Congregation, because he thought he could not honestly say he "was glad to hear of the appointment." It will be remembered that even as a young man his chief distress at his breakdown in court was the fear that his mistake might be ascribed to deceit. The question as to what does or does not constitute a lie is not an easy one, but it is a subject in itself. Alphonsus said nothing in his "Moral Theology" which is not the common teaching of Catholic theologians


SOURCE: the Catholic Encyclopedia

#BreakingNews Catholic Priest Stabbed by Assylum Seeker in Home after letting him use the Shower...Please PRAY

A  65-year-old Belgian priest named Jos Vanderlee.   Vanderlee let the asylum seeker use his shower at his home in Lanaken. The man asked the priest for money and then stabbed him. According to reports, the mayor of Lanaken said the incident 'can't be linked to terrorism' Fr. Jos suffered injuries to his hands and tendons. The asylum seeker had gone to the pastor's door to ask for help and ask if he could use his shower. This was reported in the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. Fr Vanderlee was taken to a hospital with non life-threatening injures. Fr. Jos is pastor of eight parishes in the local area. He celebrated his 40th anniversary of the priesthood this month. The stabbing occurred around 2.40pm local time on Sunday and the attacker escaped the scene. Please PRAY for peace....

Novena to St. Ignatius of Loyola - SHARE - Special Prayers for #Peace

NOVENA PRAYER TO ST IGNATIUS FOR JOY AND PEACE FIRST DAY:
Shared from Prayers for reparation:
Dear St Ignatius, while suffering the pain of a broken leg and waiting to recover your health, you began to think seriously about life. Then you began to discover what it is that brings true peace and joy to the human heart. You discovered that it is in the teachings of Jesus, His example of life and in the manner of living of the saints that we are able to find joy and peace. I also am looking for peace and joy in my life. Ask God to help me discover what His will is for me in order to have peace and joy in my life. Ask God to help me walk on the road of Jesus and find there the happiness my heart desires.

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- Think over this prayer. Ask for the grace you desire.
– If possible, read John 10:10.
– Pray the Our-Father.
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
FINAL PRAYER (pray every day):
Together with St Ignatius of Loyola, we ask you, Lord, that all our thoughts and actions, desires and all our being and doing be purely directed to Your greater glory and to the service of our brothers and sisters. Amen.
SECOND DAY:
Dear St Ignatius, you experienced a strong desire to imitate the example of the lives of the saints. You did penance for your sins, like the saints did. You asked for God’s forgiveness, trusting in His great mercy. Ask God to help me to do penance for my sins. Ask God to help me trust in His mercy and never fall into despair. St Ignatius, pray for us.
- Think over this prayer. Ask for the grace you desire.
– If possible, read Luke 18:9-14.
– Pray the Hail-Mary.
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Final prayer.
THIRD DAY:
Dear St Ignatius, during your search for peace and joy, you obtained from God the grace to pray a lot and to live in great union with God. I also feel inside me the thirst for peace and joy that God, my Creator, placed in my heart. Ask God to teach me the art of prayer. Ask for the grace to live united with God on the road of Jesus and to be able to spend some time praying every day.
- Think over this prayer. Ask for the grace you desire.
– If possible, read Luke 11:9-13.
– Pray the Hail-Mary.
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Final prayer.
FOURTH DAY:
Dear St Ignatius, you understood that we are created to serve God, to love Him with all our heart and to love our neighbour as ourselves. You discovered that everything that exists in the world was created to help us fulfil these two commandments of love. Ask God that I may obtain the grace to know how to treat people and the things of this world in such a way that I may always grow in the love of God and neighbour.
- Think over this prayer. Ask for the grace you desire.
– If possible, read Mark 12:28-31.
– Pray the Hail-Holy-Queen.
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Final prayer.
FIFTH DAY:
Dear St Ignatius, we know that you felt great joy in adoring the Most Holy Trinity. We know that you believed in God as a community of three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are always working for the good of humanity. Ask God that I may obtain the grace of understanding that God is a community of Divine Persons who work together for our salvation. Obtain from God the grace for me to live in community with my brothers and sisters. Ask that the communities of the Church may know how to work for the salvation of the world and for the liberation of all the people.
- Think over this prayer. Ask for the grace you desire.
– If possible, read John 5:17.
– Pray the Creed.
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Final prayer.
SIXTH DAY:
Dear St Ignatius, you had a great knowledge of Jesus Christ and you were a personal friend of His. You realised that God the Father called you to be a collaborator in the work of Jesus, His Son, and in the service of the salvation of the world. Ask God to give me the grace to know well Jesus Christ and to become His companion in the work of evangelizing the persons in His life of society.
- Think over this prayer. Ask for the grace you desire.
– If possible, read Matthew 11:27.
– Say a spontaneous prayer to Jesus Christ.
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Final prayer.
SEVENTH DAY:
Dear St Ignatius, contemplating the life of Jesus, you received the grace of understanding in practice what it means to firmly follow Christ, poor and humble, on the road to God in spite of persecution. You understood that the ambition of riches and the desire of having honours leads to pride. Ask God to help me understand this also so that I may have a poor, meek and humble heart to love God and neighbour.
- Think over this prayer. Ask for the grace you desire.
– If possible, read Matthew 11:29.
– Pray the Our-Father.
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Final prayer.
EIGHTH DAY:
Dear St Ignatius, many times you contemplated the glory of the risen Jesus and rejoiced with His victory over death and sin. This strengthened your life of faith. Ask God to grant me the grace to rejoice with His risen and victorious Son. Increase in all Christians hope for the complete liberation that God promised His people.
- Think over this prayer. Ask for the grace you desire.
– If possible, read John 20:19-20.
– Pray the Hail-Holy-Queen.
St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.
Final prayer.
NINTH DAY:
Dear St Ignatius, ask God to help me pray with sincere faith this prayer you used to pray:

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, also my understanding and all my will. Everything I have and possess You have given me with love. All the gifts You have given me I gratefully return to You. Do with them, Lord, whatever You will. Give me only Your love and Your grace. This is enough for me, and nothing more will I ask. Amen.”

#PopeFrancis "Thank you too for your witness of faith..." #WYD16 Goodbye Ceremony - FULL Video - Text

(Vatican Radio) As World Youth Day 2016 drew to a close, Pope Francis greeted volunteers whose hard work made the event such a resounding success.
“Before returning to Rome,” he said, “I wanted to meet you and to thank each of you for your commitment, generosity and dedication in guiding, helping and serving the thousands of young pilgrims. Thank you too for your witness of faith that, together with that of so many young people from every part of the world, is a great sign of hope for the Church and the world.”
Pope Francis read only the first few lines of his speech, before speaking to the volunteers "off-the-cuff". The full text of the Pope's prepared remarks, which was made available to the volunteers in translation, can be found below: 
Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis
to the World Youth Day Volunteers
Krakow, 31 July 2016

Before returning to Rome, I wanted to meet you and to thank each of you for your commitment, generosity and dedication in guiding, helping and serving the thousands of young pilgrims. Thank you too for your witness of faith that, together with that of so many young people from every part of the world, is a great sign of hope for the Church and the world.  By giving of yourselves for love of Christ, you have experienced the beauty of commitment to a noble cause.  You have also seen how enriching it is to join with so many friends of both sexes in a project that, while tiring, repays your efforts with joy and a wealth of new knowledge and openness to Jesus, to our neighbours, and to important life decisions.
As an expression of my gratitude, I would like to share with you a gift offered us by the Virgin Mary, who has today come to visit us in the miraculous image of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, so dear to the heart of Saint John Paul II.  In the Gospel mystery of the Visitation (cf. Lk 1:39-45), we can see an icon of all Christian volunteer work.  I would take three attitudes shown by Mary and leave them to you as an aid to interpreting the experience of these days and an inspiration for your future commitment to service.  These three attitudes are listening, deciding and acting.
First, listening.  Mary sets out after hearing the word of the angel: “Your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son…” (Lk 1:36).  Mary knows how to listen to God.  It is not simply about hearing, but about listening attentively and receptively, and being ready to help.  Think of how many times we come before the Lord or other people, but fail to really listen.  Mary also listens to events, to things that happen in life.  She is attentive to practical realities; she does not stop at the surface, but seeks to grasp their meaning.  Mary knew that Elizabeth, now elderly, was expecting a child.  She saw in this the hand of God, a sign of his mercy. The same thing also happens in our own lives.  The Lord stands at the door and knocks in any number of ways; he posts signs along our path and he calls us to read them in the light of the Gospel.
The second attitude we see in Mary is deciding.  Mary listens and reflects, but she also knows how to take a step forward: she is decisive.  This was the case with the fundamental decision of her life: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).  So too, at the wedding feast of Cana, when Mary sees the problem, she decides to speak to Jesus and ask him to do something: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).  In life, it is often hard to make decisions.  We tend to postpone them, even allowing others decide in our place, or else we let ourselves be dragged along by the course of events and to follow the “trend” of the moment.  At times, we know well what we have to do, but we lack the courage to do it, since we think it is too difficult to go against the grain…  Mary is not afraid to go against the grain.  With a steadfast heart she listens and decides, accepting the risks, never on her own, but with God!
Finally, acting.  Mary set out on her journey and “went with haste…” (Lk1:39).  Despite the hardships and the criticisms she may have heard, she didn’t hesitate or delay, but “went with haste”, because she had the strength of God’s Word within her.  Her way of acting was full of charity, full of love: this is the mark of God.  Mary went to Elizabeth not to have other people praise her, but to be helpful, useful, in her service.  And in setting out from her home, from herself, with love, she brought along the most precious thing she possessed: Jesus, the Son of God, the Lord.  Elizabeth realizes this immediately: “Why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” (Lk 1:43).  The Holy Spirit awakens faith and joy within her:“For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy” (Lk 1:44).
In volunteer work too, every act of service we provide, even the most simple, is important.  Ultimately, it is an expression of openness to the presence of Jesus.  It makes us experience the love from on high that set us on our way and fills us with joy.  World Youth Day volunteers are not only a “workers”, butevangelizers, because the Church exists and serves to evangelize.
Once Mary had finished assisting Elizabeth, she went back home to Nazareth.  Quietly and with no fuss, she left in the same way that she came.  You too, dear volunteers, will not see all the fruits of your work here in Krakow or during the “twinnings”.  Your brothers and sisters whom you served will see them in their lives and rejoice in them.  That is the “gratuitousness” of love!  Yet God knows your dedication, your commitment and your generosity.  You can be sure that he will not fail to repay you for everything you have done for this Church of the young assembled in these days in Krakow with the Successor of Peter.  I commend you to God and to the word of his grace (cf.Acts 20:32).  I entrust you to Mary, our Mother, model of all Christian volunteer service.  And I ask you, please, to remember to pray for me.

#BreakingNews many Muslims attend Catholic Mass in honor of Fr. Jacques Hamel - #Priest murdered...SHARE

Over 100 Muslims have honored the memory of the Priest Killed Father Jacques Hamel. They attended a Catholic Mass in churches around France. Fr. Hamel was murdered during an ISIS affiliated attack. 2,000 people attended the cathedral of Rouen near the town where two teenagers cut the throat of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel. "I thank you in the name of all Christians," Rouen Archbishop Dominique Lebrun said. "In this way you are affirming that you reject death and violence in the name of God." The head imam Otaman Aissaoui of Nice, France led a delegation to a Catholic mass where there was an attack on Bastille Day, which took 84 lives and injuring 435. "Being united is a response to the act of horror and barbarism," he said. The Notre Dame church in Bordeaux also welcomed a Muslim group, led by imam Tareq Oubrou. On Sunday, many prominent Muslims published a letter warning that "the risk of fracturing among the French is growing every day."  "We're very touched," the Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, told BFMTV. "It's an important gesture of fraternity. They've told us, and I think they're sincere, that it's not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel." "For me, it is very important to be here today," Mohammed Karabila, President of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Mosque, said in Rouen. Muslims in Italy also attended a Catholic Mass on Sunday. Three imams sat in the front row at Santa Maria Trastevere church in Rome. Please PRAY for Peace...and SHARE this story of Hope...

Sunday Mass Online : Sun. July 31, 2016 - 18th Ord. Time - Readings and Video

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 114


Reading 1ECC 1:2; 2:21-23

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill,
and yet to another who has not labored over it,
he must leave property.
This also is vanity and a great misfortune.
For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart
with which he has labored under the sun?
All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;
even at night his mind is not at rest.
This also is vanity.

Responsorial PsalmPS 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17

R. (1) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2COL 3:1-5, 9-11

Brothers and sisters:
If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died,
and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.
Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all.

AlleluiaMT 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”

#PopeFrancis "let us listen once more to the voice of Jesus as he calls us by name" FULL TEXT Homily WYD Mass + Video

Pope Francis celebrated the closing Mass for World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, on Sunday, July 31. There were over 1 million pilgrims present. 
Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis' prepared remarks
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Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Mass for World Youth Day
Krakow, Campus Misericordiae, 31 July 2016
Dear young people, you have come to Krakow to meet Jesus. Today’s Gospel speaks to us of just such a meeting between Jesus and a man named Zacchaeus, in Jericho (cf. Lk 19:1-10). There Jesus does not simply preach or greet people; as the Evangelist tells us, he passed through the city (v. 1).  In other words, Jesus wants to draw near to us personally, to accompany our journey to its end, so that his life and our life can truly meet.
An amazing encounter then takes place, with Zacchaeus, the chief “publican” or tax collector. Zacchaeus was thus a wealthy collaborator of the hated Roman occupiers, someone who exploited his own people, someone who, because of his ill repute, could not even approach the Master. His encounter with Jesus changed his life, just as it has changed, and can daily still change, each of our lives.  But Zacchaeus had to face a number of obstacles in order to meet Jesus. At least three of these can also say something to us.
The first obstacle is smallness of stature. Zacchaeus couldn’t see the Master because he was little. Even today we can risk not getting close to Jesus because we don’t feel big enough, because we don’t think ourselves worthy. This is a great temptation; it has to do not only with self-esteem, but with faith itself.  For faith tells us that we are “children of God… that is what we are” (1 Jn 3:1). We have been created in God’s own image; Jesus has taken upon himself our humanity and his heart will never be separated from us; the Holy Spirit wants to dwell within us. We have been called to be happy for ever with God! 
That is our real “stature”, our spiritual identity: we are God’s beloved children, always. So you can see that not to accept ourselves, to live glumly, to be negative, means not to recognize our deepest identity. It is like walking away when God wants to look at me, trying to spoil his dream for me. God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. As far as Jesus is concerned – as the Gospel shows – no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you!  In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.
At times in our lives, we aim lower rather than higher. At those times, it is good to realize that God remains faithful, even obstinate, in his love for us. The fact is, he loves us even more than we love ourselves. He believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves. He is always “cheering us on”; he is our biggest fan. He is there for us, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves and brood over our troubles and past injuries. But such brooding is unworthy of our spiritual stature! It is a kind of virus infecting and blocking everything; it closes doors and prevents us from getting up and starting over.  God, on the other hand, is hopelessly hopeful!  He believes that we can always get up, and he hates to see us glum and gloomy. Because we are always his beloved sons and daughters. Let us be mindful of this at the dawn of each new day.  It will do us good to pray every morning: “Lord, I thank you for loving me; help me to be in love with my own life!” Not with my faults, that need to be corrected, but with life itself, which is a great gift, for it is a time to love and to be loved.
Zacchaeus faced a second obstacle in meeting Jesus: the paralysis of shame. We can imagine what was going on in his heart before he climbed that sycamore. It must have been quite a struggle – on one hand, a healthy curiosity and desire to know Jesus; on the other, the risk of appearing completely ridiculous. Zacchaeus was public figure, a man of power. He knew that, in trying to climb that tree, he would have become a laughingstock to all.  Yet he mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful. You know what happens when someone is so attractive that we fall in love with them: we end up ready to do things we would never have even thought of doing. Something similar took place in the heart of Zacchaeus, when he realized that Jesus was so important that he would do anything for him, since Jesus alone could pull him out of the mire of sin and discontent. The paralysis of shame did not have the upper hand. The Gospel tells us that Zacchaeus “ran ahead”, “climbed” the tree, and then, when Jesus called him, he “hurried down” (vv. 4, 6). He took a risk, he put his life on the line. For us too, this is the secret of joy: not to stifle a healthy curiosity, but to take a risk, because life is not meant to be tucked away. When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life – we can’t respond by thinking about it or “texting” a few words!
Dear young friends, don’t be ashamed to bring everything to the Lord in confession, especially your weaknesses, your struggles and your sins. He will surprise you with his forgiveness and his peace. Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to him with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow him! Don’t let your soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice. Say a firm “no” to the narcotic of success at any cost and the sedative of worrying only about yourself and your own comfort.
After his small stature and the paralysis of shame, there was a third obstacle that Zacchaeus had to face.  It was no longer an interior one, but was all around him. It was the grumbling of the crowd, who first blocked him and then criticized him: How could Jesus have entered his house, the house of a sinner!  How truly hard it is to welcome Jesus, how hard it is to accept a “God who is rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4)! People will try to block you, to make you think that God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad. Instead, our heavenly Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Mt 5:45). He demands of us real courage: the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even our enemies. People may laugh at you because you believe in the gentle and unassuming power of mercy. But do not be afraid. Think of the motto of these days: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7). People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centred or small-minded. Don’t be discouraged: with a smile and open arms, you proclaim hope and you are a blessing for our one human family, which here you represent so beautifully!
That day the crowd judged Zacchaeus; they looked him over, up and down. But Jesus did otherwise: he gazed up at him (v. 5). Jesus looks beyond the faults and sees the person. He does not halt before bygone evil, but sees future good. His gaze remains constant, even when it is not met; it seeks the way of unity and communion.  In no case does it halt at appearances, but looks to the heart. With this gaze of Jesus, you can help bring about another humanity, without looking for acknowledgement but seeking goodness for its own sake, content to maintain a pure heart and to fight peaceably for honesty and justice. Don’t stop at the surface of things; distrust the worldly cult of appearances, cosmetic attempts to improve our looks. Instead, “download” the best “link” of all, that of a heart which sees and transmits goodness without growing weary. The joy that you have freely received from God, freely give away (cf. Mt 10:8): so many people are waiting for it!
Finally let us listen to the words that Jesus spoke to Zacchaeus, which to be seem meant for us today: “Come down, for I must stay at your house today” (v. 5).  Jesus extends the same invitation to you: “I must stay at your house today”. We can say that World Youth Day begins today and continues tomorrow, in your homes, since that is where Jesus wants to meet you from now on. The Lord doesn’t want to remain in this beautiful city, or in cherished memories alone. He wants to enter your homes, to dwell in your daily lives: in your studies, your first years of work, your friendships and affections, your hopes and dreams. How greatly he desires that you bring all this to him in prayer! How much he hopes that, in all the “contacts” and “chats” of each day, pride of place be given to the golden thread of prayer! How much he wants his word to be able to speak to you day after day, so that you can make his Gospel your own, so that it can serve as a compass for you on the highways of life!
In asking to come to your house, Jesus calls you, as he did Zacchaeus, by name. Your name is precious to him. The name “Zacchaeus” would have made people back the think of the remembrance of God. Trust the memory of God: his memory is not a “hard disk” that “saves” and “archives” all our data, but a heart filled with tender compassion, one that finds joy in “erasing” in us every trace of evil. May we too now try to imitate the faithful memory of God and treasure the good things we have received in these days. In silence, let us remember this encounter, let us preserve the memory of the presence of God and his word, and let us listen once more to the voice of Jesus as he calls us by name. So let us now pray silently, remembering and thanking the Lord wanted us to be here and has come here to meet us.