St. Alphonsus Liguori (August 1)
St. Alphonsus Liguori was born at Marianelli, near Naples, Italy, on September 21, 1696. He received his doctorate in law from the University of Naples when he was sixteen. He practiced law for eight years and left a brilliant legal practice in 1723 in order to devote his life to Jesus Christ. He was ordained in 1726 and preached the Gospel in and around Naples to the country people of the region who were, then, largely ignorant of their religion. In 1723 he moved to Scala and founded a religions community - the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, also known as the Redemptorists. Essentially, the Redemptorists were dedicated to preaching God's word through missions, retreats, and other spiritual ministries. Unfortunately, the Redemptorists were plagued by internal dissension during their formative years. Alphonsus was elected superior in 1743, and Pope Benedict XIV officially recognized the congregation in 1749. In 1762, Alphonsus was appointed Bishop of Sant' Agata dei Goti and devoted himself to preacing, writing, and reforming the Church. Severly afflicted with ill health and rheumatism, Alphonsus was allowed to resign his bishop position in 1775.
In his long career of preaching and writing, Alphonsus is most often remembered for his Moral Theology, the Glories of Mary and Visits to the Blessed Sacrament. He stressed the love of God, the Redeemer, and sought to help people serve God in their daily lives. At a time when the Church was threatened by the excessive rigorism of Jansenism (a heresy), he wanted to present the Christian life as neither too hard nor too easy. He counseled balance and trust in God's grace and recognized the many circumstances that influence human decisions and moral thinking. He has received the title Doctor of the Church.