Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church
Saint Alphonsus Liguori is one of the thirty-three doctors of the Church and is the patron of Moral Theology. In fact, Saint Alphonsus’ Theologia Moralia is to moral theology what Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa theologiae is to dogmatic theology. Get a copy if you can. He crosses every t and dots every i in the realm of morals.
His biography is stunning. Here are a few examples of his sanctity. He made a solemn vow to God that he should never waste a minute of his life on pain of mortal sin! In contemporary terms, if he spaced out and played minesweeper or solitaire, he’d have to rush off to confession for breaking a solemn vow. He promised every moment for the salvation of souls. He founded the Redemptorist order with great struggle. His confessors said that he never committed a mortal sin from baptism until his holy and peaceful death. He is known popularly for his book Glories of Mary (which you should read this book ASAP if you haven’t.)
Saint Alphonsus received his license to practice jurisprudence at the age of 16. Imagine paying a 16 year old to represent you in court. Yet Alphonsus was one of the most sought after lawyers in Naples at that time.
Sometime between the age of 16 and 20, a wonderful event happened in his life. His family employed a Muslim servant in their household. Having lived in close quarters with Alphonsus and having observed his daily routine, the Muslim asked to be baptized into the Catholic Faith. When asked why, the Muslim servant answered, “A religion which produces virtue like his cannot but be the true one.”
This should teach us that it is sanctity that converts the unbelieving heart to Christ. I gulp when I think of applying it to my life. If a servant lived in my home and saw my every move and how I act and pray every day, would he come to the conclusion: “A religion which produces virtue like his cannot but be the true one.” I fear that this would not be the case for my example.
It is also a wake up call for the West. Why are Muslims not converting to the Catholic Faith? The answer may have something to do with how they do not observe Christianity producing virtue within us.
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