Saint Alphonsus Liguori

Today we honour the memory of Saint Alphonsus Liguori: bishop, Doctor of the Church and founder of the Redemptorists.  His writings on moral, theological, and ascetic matters had a great impact upon the Church and have survived through the years and his works on moral theology are still studied in seminaries and Catholic universities today.  Saint Alphonsus died on this day in 1787 and he was canonised in 1839.  Today his spiritual sons and daughters carry on his work of preaching the Word of God.  Here in England the Redemptorists are known for their publishing enterprise and for preaching missions.

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Herod felt trapped.  What could he do but hand over John the Baptist for execution?  After all, he had made a vow to his stepdaughter in front of so many people.  Essentially, he had two choices: do what is right and spare John’s life, or maintain his image and allow John to die.  Herod looked at his guests and listened to fear and pride rather than the voice of his conscience.

Maybe we don’t see ourselves even remotely like Herod.  But we too, face many choices each day.  In ways both big and small, we must decide whether we will stand for what is right or allow ourselves to be ruled by other people’s opinions.  If we allow fear for our reputation to win out, we risk missing opportunities for God to use us to bring his life and truth to the people around us.  By contrast, if we try our best to stand up for what is just, we reflect the integrity of the children of God, and we testify to the power of the Gospel.

How can we possibly go against the tide of public opinion and expectations?  Only by believing that God makes all things possible: by his Holy Spirit, we can receive the supernatural strength we need to maintain our integrity even in the face of strong opposition.  God doesn’t expect us simply to find the strength within ourselves to speak up for justice or to uphold what is right.  Every day, he offers us his Holy Spirit, who can deepen our convictions and give us the humility and the courage we need to stand our ground.

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