Saint Alphonsus de Liguori…

…judges Francis’ idea on matrimony

  • The Church so wishes to help sinners that priests and religious are bound to offer sacrifices to appease God on their behalf

But God especially requires this of priests and religious. The same Saint used to say to her nuns: ‘My sisters, God has not separated us from the world, that we should only do good for ourselves, but also that we should appease Him in behalf of sinners;’ and God one day said to her, ‘I have given to you my chosen spouses the City of Refuge [i.e., the Passion of Jesus Christ], that you may have a place where you may obtain help for My creatures. Therefore have recourse to it, and thence stretch forth a helping hand to My creatures who are perishing, and lay down your lives for them.’ For this reason the Saint, inflamed with holy zeal, used to offer God the Blood of the Redeemer fifty times a day in behalf of sinners, and was quite wasted away for the desire she had for their conversion. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Prayer: The great means of salvation and of perfection)

  • Not to go forward in the way of God is to go backward

He who has a real desire of perfection fails not to advance continually towards it; and so advancing, he must finally arrive at it, On the contrary, he who has not the desire of perfection will always go backwards, and always find himself more imperfect than before. St. Augustine says, that ‘not to go forward in the way of God is to go backward.’ He that makes no efforts to advance will find himself carried backward by the current of his corrupt nature. They, then, who say ‘God does not wish us all to be Saints’ make a great mistake. Yes, for St. Paul says, This is the Will of God, your sanctification. (1 Thes 4:3). God wishes all to be Saints, and each one according to his state of life: the religious as a religious; the secular as a secular; the priest as a priest; the married as married; the man of business as a man of business; the soldier as a soldier; and so of every other state of life. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, Ch. II, no. 1)

…judges Francis’ idea on the use of internet for catholic education

  • Everything in this world shall soon end

The time of life is short; we should then prepare for death, which is rapidly approaching and to prepare for that awful moment, let us reflect that everything in this world shall soon end. Hence, the Apostle tells those who suffer in this life to be as if they suffered not, because the miseries of this life shall soon pass away, and they who save their souls shall be happy for eternity; and he exhorts those who enjoy the goods of the earth to be as if they enjoyed them not, because they must one day leave all things; and if they lose their souls, they shall be miserable for ever. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Sermons for all the Sundays in the Year, Sermon IX, no. 13, pg. 42)

…judges Francis’ idea on God’s mercy aimed at religious syncretism

  • God is just, and being just He must punish the ungrateful – to bear with those who avail themselves of His mercy to offend Him, would not be mercy, but injustice

The mercy of God is different from the acts of His mercy. The former is infinite, the latter are finite. God is merciful but He is also just. Saint Basil says that sinners also consider God as merciful, and ready to pardon, but not as just and prepared to inflict punishment. Of this the Lord complained one day to Saint Bridget: ‘I am just and merciful. Sinners regard me only as merciful’. Saint Basil’s words are, ‘Sinners only consider God merciful and ready to pardon. But God is just and prepared to inflict punishment.’ God is just, and being just He must punish the ungrateful. Father John Avila used to say, that to bear with those who avail themselves of the mercy of God to offend him, would not be mercy, but a want of justice. Mercy, as the divine mother said, is promised to those who fear, and not to those who insult the Lord. And his mercy to them that fear him.” (Lk 1:50) (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Sermon 41 – for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost: On the abuse of divine mercy)

…judges Francis’ idea on the role of women in the Church

  • The entire Church cannot give to God as much honor as a single priest

A priest is a minister destined by God to be a public ambassador of the whole Church, to honor him, and to obtain his graces for all the faithful. The entire Church cannot give to God as much honor, nor obtain so many graces, as a single priest by celebrating a single Mass. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Dignity and Duties of a priest, Ch. I, no. 2 – pg. 24)

  • The priest is inferior only to God

The priesthood is the most sublime of all created dignities […] the priest of God is exalted above all earthly sovereignties, and above all celestial heights he is inferior only to God. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Duties and Dignity of a priest, part I, ch. I, 1 – (pg. 24))

  • Jesus Christ is the Head; Mary is as the neck through which graces pass to the members

Saint Jerome confers us in the same sentiment or, as some persons think, another ancient author of a sermon upon the Assumption which is inserted among the works of Saint Jerome), when he says, that in Jesus Christ was the fullness of graces as in the head, whence descend to the members, which we are, all the vital spirits, that is, the divine aids for attaining eternal salvation: in Mary likewise was fullness as in the neck, through which those vital spirits pass to the members. This is confirmed by Saint Bernardine of Sienna, who more clearly unfolded hits thought, saying that through Mary are transmitted to the faithful, who are the mystic body of Jesus Christ, all the graces of the spiritual life, which descends upon them from Jesus their head. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The Glories of Mary, Ch. V)

…judges Francis’ idea that it is no longer necessary to declare one’s sins to a confessor to be pardoned

  • A confessor exposes himself to danger of damnation by too much rigor as well by excessive indulgence to penitents

A confessor exposes himself to as much danger of damnation by treating his penitents with too much rigor as he does by treating them with excessive indulgence. Too much indulgence, says Saint Bonaventure, begets presumption, and too much rigor leads to despair. There is no doubt that many err by being too indulgent: and such persons cause great havoc – and I say even the greatest havoc; for libertines, who are the most numerous class, go in crowds to these lax confessors, and find in them their own perdition. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Dignity and duties of the priest: or Selva, part II, instr. 4, no.2 – (pg. 277-278))

  • Great fortitude is necessary in correcting penitents and in refusing absolution to those who have not the requisite disposition

It is indeed necessary to admonish the sinner, in order to make him understand his miserable state, and the danger of damnation to which he is exposed; but he must be always admonished with charity, he must be excited to confidence in the divine mercy, and must be taught the means by which he may amend his life. And though the confessor should be obliged to defer absolution, he ought to dismiss the penitent with sweetness; fixing a day for him to return, and pointing out the remedies that he must practise in the mean time, in order to prepare himself for absolution. Sinners are saved in this way […] Great fortitude is necessary in correcting penitents and in refusing absolution to those who have not the requisite disposition, without any regard to their rank or power, or to the loss or injury which the confessor may sustain, or to the imputation of indiscretion or of ignorance which may be cast upon him. […] poor confessors […] For it often happens that they are bound to refuse or to defer absolution, either because the penitent will not do what they require of him, or because he is a relapsing sinner, or because he is in the proximate occasion of sin. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Dignity and duties of the priest: or Selva, part II, instr. 4, no.2 – (pg. 276-278))

  • The office of confessor the most important and difficult of all. It demands knowledge, prudence and sanctity

Saint Laurence Justinian says: ‘Many graces and not a little knowledge is needed by him who desires to raise souls to life.’ […] Saint Francis de Sales also used to say that the office of confessor is of all offices the most important, because on it depends the eternal salvation of souls, which is the end of all the sciences. It is the most difficult, because the science of Moral Theology requires a knowledge of many other sciences, and embraces an immense variety of matter. It is also most difficult, because different decisions must be given, according to the different circumstances of the cases that occur […] Sanctity is still more necessary, on account of the great fortitude which a confessor requires in the exercise of his ministry. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Dignity and duties of the priest: or Selva, , part II, instr. 4, no.2 – (pg. 273-274))

…judges Francis’ attitude towards public sinners, changing Vatican protocol

  • God cannot take pity on the obstinate sinner or on those who are determined to offend Him

‘The Lord hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart’ (Is 61:1). God is ready to heal those who sincerely wish to amend their lives, but cannot take pity on the obstinate sinner. The Lord pardons sins, but he cannot pardon those who are determined to offend him. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Sermon XV for the First Sunday of Lent, On the number of sins)

…judges Francis’ idea on confession

  • The priest holds the place of the Saviour himself

Were the Redeemer to descend into a church, and sit in a confessional to administer the sacrament of penance, and a priest to sit in another confessional, Jesus would say over each penitent, ‘Ego te absolvo,’ the priest would likewise say over each of his penitents, ‘Ego te absolve’, and the penitents of each would be equally absolved. […] The priest holds the place of the Saviour himself, when, by saying ‘Ego te absolvo’ he absolves from sin. This great power, which Jesus Christ has received from his eternal Father, he has communicated to his priests. ‘Jesus,’ says Tertullian, ‘invests the priests with his own powers.’ (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori, Dignity and duties of the priest or Selva, part I cap.I. no. 8, pg. 34)

…judges Francis’ idea on reforming the Church

  • …Good preachers and good confessors

If all preachers and confessors fulfilled the obligations of their office the whole world would be sanctified. Bad preachers and bad confessors are the ruin of the world. By bad preachers and confessors I mean those that do not fulfil their duty as they ought. […] By preaching, the faith has been propagated, and by the same means God wishes it to be preserved […] But for a Christian, it is not enough to know what he is obliged to do; it is, moreover, necessary for him, by hearing the divine word from time to time, to be reminded of the importance of eternal salvation, and of the means which he ought to adopt in order to secure it. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Dignity and duties of a priest: or, Selva)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Church’s moral teaching

  • The sinner, when he breaks the command, says to God: I do not acknowledge thee for my Lord

He who contemns the divine law despises God; because he knows that, by despising the law, he loses the divine grace. ‘By transgression of the law, thou dishonourest God.’ (Rom 2:23). God is the Lord of all things, because he has created them ‘All things are in thy power…Thou hast made Heaven and Earth’ (Est 13: 9). Hence all irrational creatures the winds, the sea, the fire, and rain obey God, ‘The winds and the sea obey him’ (Matt. 8:27). ‘Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds, which fulfil his word.’ (Ps. 148:8.) But man, when he sins, says to God: Lord, thou dost command me, but I will not obey; thou dost command me to pardon such an injury, but I will resent it; thou dost command me to give up the property of others, but I will retain it; thou dost wish that I should abstain from such a forbidden pleasure, but I will indulge in it. ‘Thou hast broken my yoke, thou hast burst my bands, and thou saidst: I will not serve.’ (Jer 2:20.) In fine, the sinner when he breaks the command, says to God: I do not acknowledge thee for my Lord. Like Pharaoh, when Moses, on the part of God, commanded him in the name of the Lord to allow the people to go into the desert, the sinner answers: ‘Who is the Lord, that I should hear his voice, and let Israel go?’ (Ex 5:2) (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Sermons for all Sundays in the Year, Sermon VI, no. 3, pg. 28–29)

…judges Francis’ idea on Christians and Muslims sharing the same points

  • The Mohametan paradise is only fit for beasts and filthy sensual pleasure

The Mahometan paradise, however, is only fit for beasts; for filthy sensual pleasure is all the believer has to expect there. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The History of Heresies and their Refutation, pg. 93)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Church called to dialogue

  • Priests are the foundations of the Church: when the foundations give way the whole edifice falls

Jesus Christ has instituted two orders in his church: one, of the simple faithful; the other, of ecclesiastics: but with this difference, that the former are disciples and sheep, the latter are masters and shepherds. […] Hence St. Augustine has well said, that ‘there is nothing more difficult, nothing more dangerous, than the office of priest.’ The difficulty and danger of the office of a priest arise precisely from his obligation to lead a holy life, not only by interior, but also by exterior sanctity, that others may learn from him, holiness of life. ‘If the one that is over thee is good, he will be thy nurse; if bad, he will be thy tempter,’ writes the same saint. The Scripture says that in Jerusalem the people lived in holiness because of the godliness of Onias the high-priest. […] And according to the Council of Trent, ‘The integrity of those who govern is the safety of the governed.’ But, on the other hand, how great the havoc, how strong the temptations, caused by the bad example of a priest! […] St. Bernard says ‘that seculars, seeing the sinful life of the priest, think no more of amending their conduct, but begin to despise the sacraments, and the rewards and punishments of the next life.’ […] Our Lord said to St. Bridget: ‘At the sight of the bad example of the priest the sinner assumes confidence in sinning, and begins to boast of sins which he before regarded as shameful.’ ‘Priests in the Church,’ says St. Gregory, ‘are the foundations of the Church.’ […] When the foundations give way the whole edifice falls. […] God has selected priests from among men, not only that they may offer sacrifices, but also that by the good odor of their virtues they may edify the rest of the Church. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Dignity and duty of the priest: or Selva, Part II, Instruction II, no. 1–2, pg. 230-232)

  • The priest is the light of the world; but if the light be changed into darkness, what must become of the world?

Priests are the salt of the earth. ‘Then,’ says the Gloss, ‘priests should give a savor to others, and render them grateful to God, instructing them in the practice of virtue, not only by preaching, but still more by the example of a holy life.’ Priests are also the light of the world. The priest, then, as our divine Master proceeds to say, should shine refulgent among the people by the splendor of his virtues, and thus give glory to that God who has conferred on him an honor so singular and sublime. So, said the Redeemer, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. […] ‘For the life of a priest,’ as St. Charles Borromeo used to say, ‘is precisely the beacon on which seculars, navigating in the midst of the ocean and darkness of the world, keep their eyes fixed in order to escape destruction.’ […] The priest, then, is the light of the world; but if the light be changed into darkness, what must become of the world? (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Dignity and duty of the priest: or Selva, Part II, Instruction II, no. 3, pg. 232)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Church’s fault for the Anglican schism

  • The theory that Anne Boleyn was Henry VIII’s daughter

It has been said that this lady [Anne Boleyn] was even Henry’s own daughter, and it is said that her father, who was ambassador in France at the time, came post to England when he heard of the affair, and told Henry that his wife confessed to him that Anne was Henry’s daughter, but Henry made him, it is said, a rude answer, told him to go back to his place, and hold his tongue, and that he was determined to marry her. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The history of heresies and their refutations)

  • …And rejects the Vicar of Christ

The name of the Pope was expunged from the Liturgy, and among the petitions of the Litany the following was sacrilegiously inserted: ‘From the tyranny and detestable enormities of the Bishop of Rome deliver us, O Lord’ (Nat. Alex, t.XIX, c.13, n.3-5; Gotti, c.113, sec.2, n.21). (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The history of hersies and their refutations)

  • Elizabeth I forbade all of her subjects to obey the Pope, and the bishops had no power except that received from her

Elizabeth, now fortified with parliamentary authority, prohibited most rigorously any of her subjects from obeying the Pope, and commanded all to recognize her as Head of the Church, both in Spirituals and Temporalities. It was also ordained, at the same, time, that to the Crown alone belonged the appointment of Bishops, the convocation of Synods, the power of taking cognizance of heresy and abuses, and the punishment of spiritual delinquencies. A system of Church government and discipline was also established, and though the doctrine of the Anglican Church is Calvinism, which rejects Bishops, together with all the sacred ceremonies of the Roman Church, as well as altars and images, still she wished that the Bishops should be continued, but without any other power than what they held from herself. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The history of hersies and their refutations)

…judges Francis’ idea on God judging us by loving us

  • More souls go to hell by mercy than by God’s justice

God is merciful. Behold the third delusion of sinners by which an immense number are lost! A learned author says, that the mercy of God sends more souls to hell than his justice; for sinners are induced, by a rash confidence in the divine mercy, to continue in sin. and thus are lost. God is merciful. Who denies it? But great as is his mercy, how many does he send to hell every day? God is merciful: but he is also just; and therefore he is obliged to punish those who offend him. He shows mercy; but to whom? To them who fear him. He hath strengthened His mercy toward them that fear Him. As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear Him (Ps 102:11.13). (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Preparation for death, part III, consideration 23, no. 2)

…judges Francis’ idea on Jesus asking forgiveness from his parents

  • Maria did not reprove Jesus as the heretics blasphemously assert

‘Son, why hast thou done so to us? Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.’! By these words she did not wish to reprove Jesus, as the heretics blasphemously assert, but only to make known to him the grief she had experienced during his absence from her, on account of the love she bore him. It was not a rebuke, says blessed Denis the Carthusian, but a loving complaint: ‘Non erat increpatio, sed amorosa conquestio.’ (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The Glories of Mary)

…judges Francis’ idea on God’s love for sinners

  • God is just and prepared to inflict punishment

Say not: the mercy of the Lord is great, He will have mercy on the multitude of my sins. Why does he tell you not to say that the mercy of God is great? Attend to the words contained in the following verse: for mercy and wrath quickly come from Him, and His wrath looketh upon sinners. The mercy of God is different from the acts of His mercy. The former is infinite, the latter are finite. God is merciful but He is also just. Saint Basil says that sinners also consider God as merciful, and ready to pardon, but not as just and prepared to inflict punishment. Of this the Lord complained one day to Saint Bridget: ‘I am just and merciful. Sinners regard me only as merciful’. Saint Basil’s words are, ‘Sinners only consider God merciful and ready to pardon. But God is just and prepared to inflict punishment.’ God is just, and being just He must punish the ungrateful […] Mercy, as the Divine Mother said, is promised to those who fear, and not to those who insult the Lord. And His mercy to them that fear him. Some rash sinners will say: God has hitherto shown me so many mercies, why should He not hereafter treat me with the same mercy? My answer: He will show you mercy, if you wish to change your life. But if you intend to continue to offend Him, He tells you that he will take vengeance on your sins by casting you into hell. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Sermon 41 – for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost: On the abuse of divine mercySpanish)

…judges Francis’ idea that Jesus is only mercy

  • God cannot take pity on the obstinate sinner determined to offend him

‘The Lord hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart’ (Is 61:1). God is ready to heal those who sincerely wish to amend their lives, but cannot take pity on the obstinate sinner. The Lord pardons sins, but he cannot pardon those who are determined to offend him. Nor can we demand from God a reason why he pardons one a hundred sins, and takes others out of life, and sends them to hell, after three or four sins. By his Prophet Amos, God has said: ‘For three crimes of Damascus, and for four, I will not convert it’ (i. 3.) In this we must adore the judgments of God, and say with the Apostle: ‘the depth of the riches, of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments’ (Rom 11:33). He who receives pardon, says Saint Augustine, is pardoned through the pure mercy of God; and they who are chastised are justly punished. ‘Quibus datur misericordia, gratis datur: quibus non datur ex justitia non datur’ (1 de Corrept.). How many has God sent to hell for the first offence? (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Sermon XV for the First Sunday of Lent, On the number of sins)

  • God executes justice on those who despise him and abuse his mercy to insult him the more

God is merciful. Behold the third delusion of sinners by which an immense number are lost! A learned author says, that the mercy of God sends more souls to hell than his justice; for sinners are induced, by a rash confidence in the divine mercy, to continue in sin and thus are lost. God is merciful. Who denies it? But great as is his mercy, how many does he send to hell every day? God is merciful: but he is also just; and therefore he is obliged to punish those who offend him. He shows mercy; but to whom? To them who fear him. He hath strengthened His mercy toward them that fear Him. As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear Him (Ps 102:11,13). But he executes justice on those who despise him, and abuse his mercy to insult him the more. God pardons sin; but he cannot pardon the will or the determination to sin. […]But the Apostle tells as that God does not allow himself to be mocked. Be not deceived. God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7). It would be a mockery of God to insult him as often and as much as you please, and afterward to expect heaven. […]When, the number of mercies which he has resolved to show to the sinner is exhausted, he then punishes all his sins together. And the longer God has waited for his repentance, the more severe will be his punishment, says Saint Gregory. (In Evang. Hom. 13). […] The patience which he has had with you, and the great mercies which he has shown to you, and not to others, ought to animate you not to offend him again, but to serve and love him. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Preparation for Death, Part 3, Consideration XXIII , 2)

…judges Francis’ idea that Christians and Muslims share the same faith

  • Christians have the right to confide in God, contrary to the followers of Mohammed

A priest of the Society of Jesus, who during life devoted a great deal of time to the conversion of sinners, died with joy and confidence of salvation; this some considered to be excessive. Hence he was told that at death we should entertain sentiments of fear as well as of confidence. He answered: Have I served Mahomet? I have served a God who is so grateful and faithful; why, then, should I fear? (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Dignity and duties of the priest: or, Selva, pg. 172)

  • The Mahometan Paradise promises sensual pleasure

The Mahometan Paradise, however, is only fit for beasts; for filthy sensual pleasure is all the believer has to expect there. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The History of Heresies and their Refutations, no.2, p. 93)

…judges Francis’ idea on the formation of youth

  • The time of life is short; we should then prepare for death

The time of life is short; we should then prepare for death, which is rapidly approaching and to prepare for that awful moment, let us reflect that everything in this world shall soon end. Hence, the Apostle tells those who suffer in this life to be as if they suffered not, because the miseries of this life shall soon pass away, and they who save their souls shall be happy for eternity; and he exhorts those who enjoy the goods of the earth to be as if they enjoyed them not, because they must one day leave all things; and if they lose their souls, they shall be miserable for ever. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Sermons for all the Sundays in the Year, Sermon IX, no. 13, pg. 42)

…judges Francis’ idea on human suffering

  • He that humbles himself under tribulations is wheat for paradise; he that grows enraged is chaff for hell

This earth is the place for meriting, and therefore it is a place for suffering. Our true country, where God has prepared for us repose in everlasting joy, is paradise. […] We must suffer, and all must suffer; be they just, or be they sinners, each one must carry his cross. He that carries it with patience is saved; he that carries it with impatience is lost. St. Augustine says, the same miseries send some to paradise and some to hell: ‘One and the same blow lifts the good to glory, and reduces the bad to ashes.’ The same saint observes, that by the test of suffering the chaff in the Church of God is distinguished from the wheat: he that humbles himself under tribulations, and is resigned to the will of God, is wheat for paradise; he that grows haughty and is enraged, and so forsakes God, is chaff for hell. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, Ch. 1, p. 45)

  • Let us go out to the battle with great courage, looking at Jesus crucified

Let us go out to the battle with great courage, looking at Jesus crucified, who from his cross offers us his assistance, the victory, and the crown. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, Ch. 1, pg. 29)

  • Lord, what else can I ask but sufferings and contempt?

Lord, since I see you so afflicted and despised for my sake, what else can I ask but sufferings and contempt? (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Dignity and Duties of the Priest or Selva,Vol XII, p. 208)

  • It is entirely just that we suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ

But since Jesus Christ has endured so much for the love of us, it is but just that we suffer for his sake. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Dignity and Duties of the Priest or Selva, part II, instruction.8: On Mortification in General, p. 339)

  • The saints accepted as treasures infirmities, persecutions, the loss of property, and the most painful and desolate deaths

This has been the one chief and dearest endeavor of all saints, — to desire with their whole heart to endure every toil, all contempt, every pain, in order to please God, and thus to please that divine heart, which so much deserves to be loved, and loves us so much […] And what greater honor, what greater comfort, can a soul have than to go through some fatigue, or to accept some labor, believing it to be acceptable to God? […] In a word, in order to give pleasure to God, the saints have stripped themselves of their possessions, have renounced the greatest earthly dignities, and have accepted as treasures infirmities, persecutions, the loss of property, and the most painful and desolate deaths. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The Way of Salvation and Perfection, Pious Reflections, Part II. Ch. 37, pg. 282-283)

…judges Francis’ idea on anticlericalism

  • Public ambassador of the whole Church

A priest is a minister destined by God to be a public ambassador of the whole Church, to honor him, and to obtain his graces for all the faithful. The entire Church cannot give to God as much honor, nor obtain so many graces, as a single priest by celebrating a single Mass. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Dignity and Duties of a priest – ch. I, no.2 – pg. 24-25)

  • Dispensers of divine graces, vigilant guardians to whom the Lord has confided the keys of the kingdom of heaven

‘Consider the priests,’ says St. Ignatius Martyr, ‘as the dispensers of divine graces and the associates of God.’ ‘They are,’ says St. Prosper, ‘the glory and the immovable columns of the Church; that are the doors of the eternal city; through them all reach Christ; they are the vigilant guardians to whom the Lord has confided the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Dignity and Duties of a priest, ch. I, no.3 – pg. 28)

  • The priesthood is the most sublime of all created dignities – he is inferior only to God

The priesthood is the most sublime of all created dignities […] the priest of God is exalted above all earthly sovereignties, and above all celestial heights he is inferior only to God. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or Duties and Dignity of a priest, Ch.1, 1 – pg. 23)

…judges Francis’ criteria for the nomination of Bishops

  • The Bishop’s hearers will put but little faith in him if he does not before set the example

It is not sufficient for the Bishop to be lucerna ardens – a shining light as to his own interior; he should also be lucens exteriorly by his good example if he wishes to see the flock walking the road of virtues. In order that they may ascend the mountain, the shepherd must go before them within sight of them. The bishop is this light placed by God himself on the candlestick, ‘that it might shine to all that are in the house’. In vain will he preach and recommend the practice of the evangelical maxims: if he does not before set the example, it will happen what is said by the Council of Vercelli, that the hearers would put but little faith in him, because ‘Men believe more with their eyes that their ears.’ (Saint Alphonsus. The Complete Ascetical Works, Vol. XVII, Reflections Useful for Bishops, p. 455-6)

…judges Francis’ idea on asking prayers from non-catholics and atheists

  • God does not hear hardened sinners even at the hour of death: ‘You shall seek me, and shall not find me’

Miserable the sinner that hardens his heart and resists the divine calls: His heart shall be as hard as a stone and as firm as a smith’s anvil (Job 41:15). Instead of yielding to the graces and inspirations of God, and being softened by them, the unhappy man becomes more obdurate, as the anvil is hardened by repeated strokes of the hammer. In punishment of his resistance to the divine calls, he will find his heart in the same miserable state at the very hour of death, at the moment of passing into eternity. A hard heart shall fare evil at the last. Sinners, says the Lord, you have, for the love of creatures, turned your back upon me. They have turned their back upon me, and not their face; and in the time of their affliction they will say: Arise, and deliver us. Where are the gods thou hast made thee? Let them arise and deliver thee (Jer 2: 27). They will have recourse to God at death; but he will say to them: Why do you invoke me now? Call on creatures to assist you; for they have been your gods. The Lord will address them in this manner, because, in seeking him, they do not sincerely wish to be converted. Saint Jerome says that he holds, and that he has learned from experience, that they who have to the end led a bad life, will not die a good death […] It is a marvellous thing that God unceasingly threatens sinners with an unhappy death. Then they shall call upon me, and I will not hear (Prov. 1:28).Will God hear his cry when distress shall come upon him? (Job 27: 9). I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock (Prov 1:26). According to Saint Gregory, God laughs when he is unwilling to show mercy (Mor 1, 9, c. 20). Revenge is mine, and I will repay them in due time: (Deut 22: 35). The Lord pronounces the same threats in so many other places: and sinners live in peace as securely as if God had certainly promised to give them, at death, pardon and paradise. It is true that at whatsoever hour the sinner is converted God promises to pardon him. But he has not promised that sinners will be converted at death: on the contrary, he has often protested that they who live in sin shall die in sin. You shall die in your sins (Jn 8:21-24). He has declared that they who seek him at death shall not find him. You shall seek me, and shall not find me (Jn 7:34). (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Preparation for Death, VI, 2-3)

…judges Francis’ idea on offering rosaries

  • Prayer: a violence which is delightful and dear to God

We must keep repeating, Lord help me; Lord, assist me; keep Thy hand upon me; leave me not; have pity upon me! Is there anything easier than to say, Lord, help me, assist me! The Psalmist says, ‘With me is prayer to the God of my life’ (Ps 41: 9). On which the gloss is as follows: ‘A man may say, I cannot fast, I cannot give alms; but if he is told to pray, he cannot say this.’ Because there is nothing easier than to pray. But we must never cease praying; we must [so to speak] continually do violence to God, that He may assist us always – a violence which is delightful and dear to Him. ‘This violence is grateful to God,’ says Tertullian; and Saint Jerome says that the more persevering and importunate our prayers are, so much the more are they acceptable to God: ‘Prayer, as long as it is importunate, is more acceptable.’ […] Let us, then, never neglect to beg God to give us this grace, and this spirit of continual prayer; because if we pray always, we shall certainly obtain from God perseverance and every other gift which we desire, since His promise of hearing whoever prays to Him cannot fail. ‘For we are saved by hope’ (Rom 8:24). With this hope of always praying, we may reckon ourselves saved. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The Complete Ascetical Works, Vol. III, The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection, Part I, Ch. 3, no. 4)

…judges Francis’ idea that the Pope should not judge

  • Correct privately, especially if the crime is hidden

Monsignor San-felice, of dear memory, one day asked me trembling: ‘Don Alfonso, how may I rest when I know that one of my sheep lives in God’s disgrace?’ Saint Gregory incriminates the bishop who does not correct with the same crime committed by the wicked. But in order that the correction be given correctly, it is necessary in the first place, that it be done with charity, and if by chance, in extreme cases, it is necessary to resort to firmness, always mix the wine with oil, rigor with sweetness. […] Correct privately, especially if the crime is hidden. He who has lost his good name, easily allows himself to be taken over by vices. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Reflections Useful for Bishops, c. II, no. 9)

  • The scandalous take from Jesus Christ the souls that he redeemed by his blood

The sin of scandal consists not only in directly advising others to do evil, but also in inducing them indirectly by acts to the commission of sin: Dictum vel factum minus rectum, prcebens alleri ruinam. Scandal is thus defined how St. Thomas and other theologians: “Every Word or action, more or less inordinate, that constitutes for the neighbor na occasion of falling into sin.” To understand the grievousness of the sin of scandal, it is enough to know that according to Saint Paul he who offends against a brother by leading him into sin, offends against Jesus Christ: When you sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ? (1Cor 8:12). And Saint Bernard assigns the reason, saying that the author of scandal robs Jesus Christ of the souls redeemed by his Blood. The saint goes so far as to say that Jesus Christ suffers more from those that scandalize others than He did from his crucifiers. “If our Lord,” he says, “has given his blood to redeem souls, do you not think that of these two persecutions, the one in which scandal robs him of souls purchased by his blood, the other in which the Jews shed his blood, the first is much more cruel to his heart?” (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Selva or the Dignity and Duties of a Priest, part I, ch. 8: The sin of scandal)

  • The pastor that does not correct his sheep will give an account to Jesus Christ for the wrongdoing that resulted

It is also the office of the pastor to detach the sheep from an evil life with correction, of which he is obliged, even at the cost of his own life. ‘The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’ (Jn 10:11). If he does not work in this way, he must give an account to Jesus Christ for the wrongdoing that resulted and which could have been avoided with correction. This is the great weight that makes holy bishops tremble. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. Reflections Useful for Bishops, c. II, no. 9)

…judges Francis’ idea that the Virgin Mary was capable to rebel against God

  • At the death of Jesus, Mary united her will to that of her Son; so much so that both offered one and the same sacrifice

‘The wills of Christ and of Mary were then united, so that both offered the same holocaust; she thereby producing with Him the one effect, the salvation of the world,’ At the death of Jesus, Mary united her will to that of her Son; so much so that both offered one and the same sacrifice; and therefore the holy Abbot says that both the Son and the Mother effected human redemption, and obtained salvation for men. (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The Glories of Mary, part II, discourse VI: On the purification of Mary)

  • Mary consented to the death of her Son with her entire will that we might be saved

Our most loving Mother was always, and in all, united to the will of God. ‘And therefore,’ says Saint Bonaventure, ‘when she saw the love of the Eternal Father towards men to be so great that, in order to save them, He willed the death of His Son; and on the other hand, seeing the love of the Son in wishing to die for us: in order to conform herself to this excessive love of both the Father and the Son towards the human race, she also with her entire will, offered, and consented to, the death of her Son, in order that we might be saved.’ (Saint Alphonsus Liguori. The Glories of Mary, part I, ch. 1, sec.1: Hail Holy Queen)

…judges Francis’ idea on the origin of the Psalms

  • If the Office was recited as it should: the Church wouldn’t be reduced to the present miserable state; sinners would be delivered from slavery to the devil

If priests and religious did all recite the Office as it ought to be recited, the Church would not behold herself in the miserable state to which she is reduced. How many sinners would be delivered from the slavery of the devil, and how many souls would love God with much greater fervor! And how would priests themselves not find themselves ever the same, imperfect, irritable, jealous, attached to their own interests, and led away by vanities! (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The Complete Ascetical Works of Saint Alphonsus. Vol. XIII. ch. II, p. 448)

  • And how comes it that a priest offering up many prayers is yet never heard?

And how comes it that a priest offering up so many prayers in a day, were it only in the Office which he recites, is yet never heard? He is Always the same, as weak and prone as ever to fall not only into slight sins (to which he is habitated, and takes neither pains nor care to correct himself of them), but into grievous sins against charity justice, or chastity; hence when he recites the Office he pronounces sentence of condemnation against himself, in these words: They are cursed who decline from Thy commandments. And what is still worse, he feels little remorse, excusing himself as being of the same flesh and blood as other men, and not able to restrain himself. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. The Complete Ascetical Works of Saint Alphonsus, Vol. XIII. ch. II, p. 449)

…judges Francis’ idea on boasting of our sins

  • We should glory in the knowledge of our insufficiency, that thus we may acquire the virtue of holy humility

Gladly, says the Apostle, will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2Cor 12:9). We, too, should say the same: we should glory in the knowledge of our insufficiency, that thus we may acquire the power of Jesus Christ, that is, holy humility. (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Selva of material for preaching , part II, ch. 6, no.3)

…judges Francis’ idea on eternal condemnation

  • Rash confidence in the mercy of God sends more souls to hell than his justice

A learned author says, that the mercy of God sends more souls to hell than his justice; for sinners are induced, by a rash confidence in the divine mercy, to continue in sin, and thus are lost. God is merciful. Who denies it? But great as is his mercy, how many does he send to hell every day? God is merciful: but he is also just; and therefore he is obliged to punish those who offend him. He shows mercy; but to whom? To them who fear him. He hath strengthened His mercy toward them that fear Him. As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear Him (Ps 102:11, 13). (Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. Preparation for Death, part III, consideration 23, n. 2)

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