Happy Feast of St. Alphonsus
Friday, August 08, 2014 by Kathy McMerty

Friends of St. Alphonsus. Happy Feast of St. Alphonsus.

Many of you who follow this page will already know what I include here below. However, you may have a friend to whom you may want to pass on this invitation to a deeper life of prayer and to become “pazzo” for love of God. Below you will find some excerpts from a book published by our General Superior for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.

“Praying in the Spirit and Tradition of St. Alphonsus” by Rev. Michael Brehl C.Ss.R.

Praying in the Spirit and Tradition of St. Alphonsus is an evocative title. We are not being asked to pray exactly as he did, in slavish imitation. St. Alphonsus did not much like such a literal imitation of Jesus either. He preferred ‘following’ in the spirit and mission of Jesus to the notion of ‘imitation’, more common in his day. So, what is this spirit of Alphonsus? It might be summarized simply as an invitation: fall in love with your God who has fallen so much in love with you, your God who is ‘pazzo’, out of his head, crazy, for love of you. “Speak with God face to face as one friend speaks to another”. As Alphonsus and St. Teresa of Avila emphasize, prayer is nothing other than familiar conversation with God. This is the spirit and tradition of St. Alphonsus.

“Whoever prays is certainly saved. Whoever does not pray is certainly damned”. For Alphonsus, to petition in prayer is to begin to live the redeemed life! In the face of those who preached a ‘limited’ salvation for the ‘elect’, Alphonsus powerfully affirmed the universal salvific will of God. No one is predestined for damnation. One of the most frequently quoted passages in his writing is from Paul’s first letter to Timothy: “God our Savior … desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”. (1 Tim 2: 4) He quotes this passage in his writings on prayer, on the Passion and Redemption and in his systematic theology. This is a key text for reading him.

God gives everyone the grace to pray because God wants all to be saved. It is God’s initiative (protecting the sovereignty of the Divinity), but God chooses to act in a respectful and gracious manner towards all people without distinction, and most especially towards the poor who will never be part of the ‘cognoscenti’ or the ‘spiritual elite’. God invites them into partnership, mutuality, dialogue through their natural inclination to pray in petition. Fr. Kevin O’Shea describes the development of this relationship in his short work on Alphonsus and moral theology – “The Courtesy of God.”