The Doctor is still in: Weekly Message for 08-01-2023

Dear Friends in Christ,

August 1 is the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), the Redemptorists’ founder and a Doctor of the Church.  A prodigy, he earned a degree in civil and canon law by age 16. A great moral theologian, he managed to impart Church teaching in simple language and offered concrete suggestions for how people could live their faith.

Imparting the teachings of the Church in an accessible way remains an ongoing work. The Internet has opened as many doors for evangelization as it has windows for the devil’s mischief.

How can we meet this challenge? Alphonsus’ life gives us one clue: human formation.

We do well to cultivate the intellectual gifts God has given us. Being effective apostles requires that we understand both our faith and the world well enough to know how to present the Gospel in a convincing way. This takes work.

It helps if we can stay tuned to a Catholic worldview, through radio, podcasts, periodicals, books and Church documents. Above all, we stay tuned through prayer, Mass and the sacraments. To help focus on a key reason for evangelization (the salvation of souls), it might be helpful to pray along with our Retreat Guide “Do I Need a Savior?”

Beyond human formation, we need great faith—and to be prepared for challenges even within the Church.

One of the heaviest crosses Alphonsus faced was being tricked into signing what he thought was a royal sanction for his rule for the congregation. In fact, the document was a new rule devised by an opponent. Alphonsus was subsequently expelled from the congregation. But that’s another story.

He remains a stellar example of someone who worked for God’s glory and the salvation of souls—a Doctor from whom we can learn a lot.

In Christ,

Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Ask a Priest contributor

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