Tuesday, August 2, 2011

St Alphonsus - Let us be moved by the Love of Christ

A few days ago someone asked me, "Why does St Alphonsus di Ligouri repeat himself in his writings?" St Alphonsus was a great theologian and author who wrote voluminous works on the holy Eucharist, the priesthood, mental prayer, consecrated virginity, preparation for death, and much, much more. His writing style is to look at a topic as you might look at diamond in your hand. You pick it up and turn it, viewing it from many different angles, seeing something new with each turn. The reason for this is because he wrote not for the understanding of the intellect, but for the conversion of the will.

He was very much aware that most people did not struggle with ignorance, for it takes only catechesis to bring about knowledge of the faith. Most struggle with doing what is right. His approach is to provide many proofs from Scripture, the Church Fathers, from life experiences, sayings of the saints, and many stories in order to form an inner conviction to form good spiritual habits and to shun evil. Reading his works is like watching an artist paint a picture. He starts with the context, the background, begins to put on layer after layer of color, then slowly forming in the reader's heart greater clarity and beauty of an inner picture he is trying to paint.

This principle I find incredibly useful for preaching. People do not need a thesis. It is not their mind that I address, but their heart. They need to be convicted of the Redemption wrought for them by God, and therefore they need to have a real living experience of the Redeemer. Usually they need simple stories, words, quotes from the saints, the Popes, whatever it takes to reveal to them the Love of God. Then when caritas divinum, divine charity, takes hold of them, charity moves their will to believe in what is being preached. Faith is animated by charity. Fire brings both heat and light.

I find that people who have been wounded by sin (everybody) need to hear thousands of times how much God loves them. I do not tire of repeating this. Like a husband who tells his wife how much they are loved so priests must proclaim it to the Church with every possible way, "Your Redeemer loves you."

Blessed Pope John Paul II had spoken repeatedly about the way of the new evangelization as a living encounter with Jesus Christ, and that the Teacher would instruct further, but people need to be put into communion with him first. Mass, confession, holy hour, prayer - all of these need to be re-contextualized in the model of a living encounter with Jesus Christ fully alive and active in his Church especially in the Sacred Liturgy.

May the prayers of Our Lady, star of the New Evangelization and of St Alphonsus di Ligouri bring about our conversion deeper to the imitation of Christ and adoration of the divine Mystery.

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