Monday, August 01, 2011

St. Alphonsus Ligouri


"The more we distrust our own strength, the more we should confide in the divine mercy. This is a balance in which the more the scale of confidence in God is raised, the more the scale of diffidence in ourselves descends.
"Listen to me, O sinners: if the devil tells you that but little hope remains of your eternal salvation, answer him in the words of Scripture, 'No one has hoped in the Lord, and has been confounded.' [Eccl 2; 11] No sinner has ever trusted in God, and has been lost." - St. Alphonsus
Art: Painting of Jesus Crucified, Alphonsus Liguori.


  1. Was St. Alphonsus an artist? I didn't know that.

    Though his words scare the crap out of me at times, I like St. Alphonsus. I know he suffered from tremendous scrupulosity, and was formed during a rash of stringent rigorism, which may explain some of his harsher positions (and later orthodox sources seem to indicate so).

    At the same time, his words about trusting God and His Mercy are always so profound. Thank you Terry, for this post and that quotation.

  2. Thank you for this posting ... the last one had me depress reading the 120+comments that were left ...

    signed a Mother

  3. The Importance of Silence


    St. Alphonsus de Liguori

    Extracted from The True Spouse of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

    "In the first place, silence is a great means of acquiring the spirit of prayer, and of disposing the soul to converse continually with God. We rarely find a spiritual soul that speaks much. All souls of prayer are lovers of silence that is called the guardian of innocence, the shield against temptations, and the fountain of prayer. For by silence devotion is preserved, and in silence good thoughts spring up in the soul. St. Bernard says: "Silence and the absence of noise in a certain manner force the soul to think of God and of eternal goods." (3) Hence, the saints fled to the mountains, to caves, and to deserts, in order to find this silence, and escape the tumults of the world, in which, as was said to Elias, God is not found. (3 Kings, xix. 11) Theodosius the monk observed silence for thirty-five years. St. John the Silent, who gave up his bishopric and became a monk, observed silence for forty-seven years before his death; and all the saints, even they who were not solitaries, have been lovers of silence.

    Oh, how great the blessings that silence brings to the soul! The prophet says that silence shall cultivate justice in the soul; (Isaias, xxxii. 17) for, on the one hand, it saves us from a multitude of sins by destroying the root of disputes, of detractions, of resentments, and of curiosity; and on the other, it makes us acquire many virtues. How well does the nun practise humility who when others speak listens with modesty and in silence! How well does she practise mortification by not yielding to her inclination or desire to tell a certain anecdote, or to use a witty expression suggested by the conversation! How well does she practise meekness by remaining silent when unjustly censured or offended! Hence the same holy prophet said: In silence and in hope shall be your strength. (Isaias xxx. 15) Your strength shall be in silence and in hope; for by silence we shun the occasions of sin, and by hope we obtain the divine aid to lead a holy life".

  4. "How well does she practise mortification by not yielding to her inclination or desire to tell a certain anecdote, or to use a witty expression suggested by the conversation!"

    So such things are sinful? Man, am I in trouble. Add that to all the saints who talk about laughter and joking around being immoral.

    Now I get to be afraid of having conversations with friends. Great.

  5. Mercury--LOL. You are so funny.

  6. I'm not trying to be funny. My problem is that if silence and concentration on God is good at times, isn't it better ALL THE TIME, then?

    So for those of us who can't do it all the time or don't want to do it all the time, are we somehow spiritually retarded? This is the same trouble I have with "continence for the sake of the Kingdom is a higher way, even for married people" (this is a tortuous and horrifying concept for me)- Does that mean those who aren't total ascetics are somehow lesser Christians or not pleasing to God? If we have no desire to completely detach from all worldly things, does that mean we don't love God enough?

    Or is the answer simply that God calls us all to different levels of this stuff?

  7. Mercury - I hear you and been wrestling with some of the questions and thoughts you have shared over the months.

    ps wrd verification:

    tubsonos - sounds a pill I need to take ....

  8. Mercury: I am sorry... Our Lord just wants you to love him as best as you are able, with all your heart, mind an soul. He doesn't want you to torture yourself. We start small and try to make progress. That's all. You mustn't be so hard on yourself, Mercury....

  9. Thanks. Right now I'm trying to discern what to do with a lot of the entertainment in my life. I've gotten rid of books and movies whose nature was patently obscene or grotesque or were riddled with the author's barely concealed contempt for God and morality.

    What's harder, though, and I really need to speak with my spiritual director about this, is trying to decide on what to do with books and stuff that contain certain minor scenes whose content is a pretty risqué (it's not really a temptation for me, but I wonder if I should even own it), or whose protagonists act in ways contrary to Christian morality where the author shows either indifference or sympathy. Usually the novels are in general good, but contain these elements in there, or sometimes the characters use foul or blasphemous language (I'm not worried about the "shits" and stuff, but the cavalier use of g.d. etc.)

    A good example of books I've always loved whose content I now sometimes question are James Clavell's Asian novels (Shogun, Noble House, etc.) or Neal Stephenson's Baroque novels (Quicksilver, etc.). Heck even some of Michael Crichton's stuff. Some of you may be familiar with the works I mentioned - what do you think? It's not the risqué scenes or the moral ambiguity of some of the characters, but the historical settings and the action that I like.

    I know I shouldn't mess with anything that is detrimental to the spiritual life, but at the same time I don't want to start throwing out every book that has something in it I don't agree with, or be afraid that God's going to punish me because I own books that are not 100% pure.

  10. I don;t want to end up like those people who only read religious books out of paranoia for anything else. (of course there are those who do it out of the love of God - monks for example - but that's different)

  11. Austringer5:13 PM


    Realize that St. Alphonsus was speaking about nuns in that particular quote.

    Regarding your books and movies: two priests I know, one whose integrity and wisdom is unimpeachable, typically go on a golfing vacation together each winter. They watch movies in the evenings. I was a little surprised to hear that both priests really liked "Office Space", which certainly has some risque moments. One of the priests is fairly worldly, so that didn't surprise me, but the other did as well.

    The point is that they could watch and enjoy the movie, while not approving of its morality. One of my favorite movies is "The Big Lebowski". It uses the f-word extensively, and has no redeeming moral point of view. But I find it very funny - I'm not endorsing its morality by finding it funny.

  12. When I got home today there was a package in front of my door. Attached was a note from a girlfriend that read, "This didn't fit, thought you might like it." I opened the box expecting to find an ugly sweater. Instead under the wrappings I found joy and hope and love and peace and courage. Do you recognize your spiritual gifts? Are you the change you wish to see or do you take a pass on what you've been gifted? I acknowledge the spiritual gifts within each of you. I am Sharon Gee be with love today.

  13. Hmm there she is again. LarryD, I think you're right. Ter Bear's lurking on his own blog - lol.

    Mercury, I've been having some of the same issues with entertainment. For television, generally speaking, if it's not on PBS or EWTN, I haven't been watching it. I don't wat TV during the week (no time, and it's turning into a good thing) and on the weekends it's like I said: either PBS like 'this old house' and the cooking shows or EWTN on saturday/sunday afternoons and i LOVE Masterpiece THeatre on Sunday nights. I also rent from Blockbuster (DVD mail delivery) that way I can control what movies I watch vs. owning movie channels on cable.

  14. doughboy - well, with TV it's mostly crap anyway, even if it's not an occasion of sin, haha.

    I find that with TV and music and stuff, I tend to not listen to certain things that often anymore anyway. I've never been a huge TV watcher, so this is no big deal for me. With music, I simply don't much listen to a lot of my old favorite bands anymore (the Stones, Led Zeppelin), though some I actively did away with (Black Sabbath, AC/DC). My interests and tastes have simply shifted.

    Books are somewhat different though. For example, some of the characters in a novel I am reading right now can be pretty foul-mouthed and do a lot of taking the Lord's name in vain. The author isn't saying "emulate these characters" - he's saying "this is what a bunch of guys in this social class sound like". Still, I can imagine what a Jewish rabbi who won't even spell the word "God" would think of the g.d.'s showing up in print.

    Hah, I get this image of St. Jean Vianney almost fainting. All that said - the book is not patently obscene, and the main thrust is an interesting concept (it's about helicopter pilots riding out the Iranian Revolution in 1979). It doesn't make me want to sin, but I struggle with the idea that I am somehow displeasing God.

    Maybe I'm just paranoid?

  15. I also think Sharon Gee is really Terry - that's where he's been these past few days.

    Better yet - it's Pablo! :)

  16. The Needy Bunch11:26 PM

    ... catholic charities buffalo? psychotherapist, Sharon Gee?

  17. Anonymous1:37 AM

    sista girl needs to get her roots redid whoevah she is.

  18. Mercury, I don't think enjoying a book with colorful metaphors (if it's not leading you to sin) is sinful in and of itself. Heck, I enjoy watching Kill Bill (both volumes) cuz I enjoy dark humor and the martial arts scenes and Uma kicking butt.

  19. Thanks, doughboy. Reading the book further, I ran across some stuff that sort of convinced me I shouldn't read it further. The author, like all to many modern novelists, likes to get a bit detailed about sexual situations.

    It's not a huge temptation to me, but at the same time, I don't need the mental imagery.

    Haha, now I just have to decide whether Dr. Zhivago, which has an adulterous relationship sort of right in the middle of it, is kosher :)


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