The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ (Annotated) by Dr. Marc Kelly - Read Online
The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ (Annotated)
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Special Study Edition - Annotations

+ Biography of St. Alphonsus
+ Paper on the Redemptorists
+ Essay on our Moral Crisis
+ Book Club Questions

In St. Alphonsus Liguori's "The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ" Dr Marc Kelly's special edition will give you real ideas to bring your heart closer to Christ. "Practice" is one the Saint's true masterpieces, a book that speaks directly to all Christians, offering you ways and means that has the potential to really satisfy your spiritual longings. One cannot read this book without becoming a more aware believer. Readers report this is a workbook where you're given so many practical things to do that you might to pause and put the advice into practice today.

"This contact with the honesty of the street became the basis for a lasting influence in moral theology."--Prof Charles Paris, Simon Fraser University Burnaby British Columbia (1989)

Published: Gregory Bellarmine on
ISBN: 9781301280759
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The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ (Annotated) - Dr. Marc Kelly

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Biography of St. Alphonsus Liguori

The key facts about St. Alphonsus Liguori are as follows: He was born on the 27th September 1696 and took his Doctoral degree in 1713, clearly at a young age. He then went on, he was invited to the bar and became a lawyer.

That said, Liguori was known to have an intensely religious temperament, even though it wasn’t until 1726 that he was ordained to the priesthood, having entered the novitiate in the Congregation of Missions in the year 1723. His father, Don Joseph, was very much against his son receiving Holy Orders, for he’d spent many years filling young Liguori’s head with ambitions for a worldly future, for which the boy as on track but were irrevocably erased by priestly act of worldly renunciation.

In 1732 Liguori established the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, whose focus was to instruct of the countryside’s poor folk. Their 1st Mission house was located in Scala, which is eight miles from old Salerno. But at some near point afterward (which history doesn’t record) the House’s headquarters were moved to Ciorani. In 1743 the HQ was again moved to Nocera dei Pagani, and even to this day it is the Order’s Mother House.

Despite the difficulties Alphonsus faced in starting his Order he was a tremendous success.

One particularly moving story involves an event known as the Regolamento. It was a time when Alphonsus who at the time was an elderly 83 years of age. To the Saint his Order (in terms of affection) was second only to God but was under threat, for the royalty of the time threatened to issue an edict of illegality: his Congregation was weakened but not destroyed and continued despite persecution. Liguori’s personal will alone sustained he and the Fathers during the condemnation, and, just before his passing to his Reward in Heaven on the 1st of August 1787 in the Nocera dei Pagani, the Saint was blessed to witness the Congregation absolutely re-established.

By appearance, Alphonus was mid height, average, though it’s said his head was overly large and his bright complexion conveyed honesty. He had a broad forehead, twinkling slightly blue eyes and hooked nose, which sat above a tiny bow mouth, pleasant and most often with a smile. His hair was black and his naturally thick beard he tended to cut back with scissors because he wouldn’t shave. He was short sighted and had a pair of spectacles he took off when preaching or politely when in the presence of ladies. He was adaptable of persona, kindly to the average folk and speaking simple words to the uneducated, for he took St. Paul’s example of adapting seriously such that the Gospel be preached in the language people understood, not too high-brow. In short, Liguori adapted his manner to all or any to draw souls to Christ. He was forever in a state of quite reflection, recollected observers described. Though he wasn’t an enemy of the easy life, it wasn’t for him. In fact he took on extra austerities despite being more kind and compassionate with others weaknesses.

A reputation he developed: to the locals he came to resemble St. Francis in a love for animals. One story has that one of the brothers who had thrown a cat out of the window was dealt with harshly and lost the privilege of fruit for 8 as penalty for such obvious cruelty to God’s creatures, for all are His servants including the beasts of the earth. Another story had the Saint receive 2 doves from his students as a gift, and eventually the doves became so endeared to him that they would rest upon his shoulders and Liguori would feed them from his hand at mealtime. After the meal the Saint would say kindly, Now away with you, so the birds flew away to their cage. Unlike St. Francis, Alphonsus did become a bishop and moral theologian, having been credited with the discipline of casuistry which is used in the confessionals to this day. He composed several systematic theology works through his writing tried to thwart the atheistic materialist indulgences of as he called him the infidel writer Voltaire.

Interestingly, at one time there was a rumour going around that that Voltaire had been born again in Christ and that Alphonsus had written in kind to congratulate. However there is no evidence known to this writer if such an event ever took place.

The Redemptorists or the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer

The term Redemptorist is shorthand for members of the Congregation of the most Holy Redeemer, which isn’t the same order as the Redemptionists who are members of the Order for the Redemption of Captives. However it's equivalents are generally employed in common English. For instance, in Italy the Redemptorists are ordinarily known as Liguorini, and in so doing receive the name of their founder, somewhat like members of the Order of Preachers who are generally known as Dominicans, and likewise the Friars Minor are themselves known as Franciscans.

Members of the Congregation sign their name with C.SS.R., which identifies them as part of the Institute.

Redemptorists don't belong to an Order within the strict canonical sense of the term, and thus they're not monks or friars, nor are their homes monasteries per se. They're a spiritual order, although not in solemn vows, and their residences are in a sense spiritual homes. Collegium is the Latin term that designates their homes. That said, on account of the Scholastic use of that word in English, Collegium becomes like a house-name when applied to a community of spiritual-related clergymen.

The original plan of Founder, St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, was to assemble a body of clergymen in a way that they could most easily to follow the life and example of the priest’s highest model of right living—Jesus Christ our Lord. The Collegium would be, for all external purposes, a place to develop that likeness to Christ, where one ought to go out into the world only to devote oneself to the preaching of the Gospel to the poor, bearing ever in mind aware the words of Our Redeemer that The poor have the Gospel preached to them.

In the Holy Founder’s mind, however, the scope of his grand project suggests that he had in mind a kind of restricted apostolate. By manner of preference, at least, the Saint and his companions often took to travelling and preaching in rural districts, as remote as possible, and there they would instruct and exhort the country-folk, people who were often lacking the extra aid provided by Church agencies who invested much resource into the larger towns and cities. To Alphonsus, this challenge was seen as a positive opportunity rather than as a negative obstacle. However, there were severe limitations too. Nonetheless, apostolic missions and didactic courses of spiritual instruction and preaching took up most of the Congregation’s resources. So they devoted themselves to helping locals and so increased the reputation of the Institute, by preaching, administering the Sacraments, and providing alternative ecclesiastical services. As policy, the Congregation formally rejected offers for roles that could the priests from the direct work of the missions, roles such as the government employ, work in seminaries or faculties, the giving of Retreats to nuns, as well, as all care of them, the holding of parishes, and therefore the preaching of set courses of season sermons. Of these things distractions, the brethren were careful not to let other pursuits distract from their core purpose to help country folk.

To Alphonsus, the Congregation was intended to be a grand Mission and would wholly reform the religious life of a place wherever the brothers set up a mission house, and St Alphonsus personally spared no effort making sure his vision would become reality. Nobody was more aware that if he succeeded he’d do so only by a special grant of Divine Grace, but he wasn’t on his own. He knew he needed to govern the order in a spirit of cooperation such that he infused his preaching with messages of how human beings ought to help each other. Those Eternal Truths of active love for all was to be the main subject of the Congregation’s preaching as well. The danger of course was that the other doctrines of faith which needed to be accepted by all were sometimes neglected.

Interestingly, the fathers would travel forth in enough number so that the confessions of all would be heard, and they weren't to depart till there had been time to satisfy all the penitents, and were permitted to leave only once the locale was totally revived and reconciled with the laws of Christ.

But there was no thought in St Alphonsus’ mind that the Fathers ought to lose sight of the places within which that they had once given missions, which is why he insisted on the importance of what became known as time for Renewals. He urged that where the brothers had seen potential in the people for gretare piety they must come again ever five months to the same place. There they should preach another course of exercises, and this would be known as a Renewal of the Mission. The time taken for exercises was to be shorter, the amount of missionaries fewer in number, and so the content of sermons had to change.

The Renewal’s aim was to reach souls untouched by first the mission, as human nature might recoil into sin again. It seems, from the way the original Rule reads that they contemplated having the priests come even a third time to the same places, because each time the Mission would be easier. The Religious House could then be established close by, and so save time and effort in journeying especially because locales would be acquainted with their work.

There was an unusual charitable work taken on by the Institute, which was that they threw open its doors to those who wanted a Retreat in an exceedingly spiritual place, which would be secure from the noise and distractions of the globe. it had been for this purpose that St Alphonsus and therefore the early Fathers, his contemporaries, engineered Retreats in a way that accommodated people in their Houses, not just priests from their own community, but of differing congregations who would then possibly return again to pray in seclusion. In the past there had been many Retreats where priests came together and were preached ot in common but mostly from abutting diocese not from fellow religious orders as such. It started a trend which saved on resources by having Retreats held jointly. Even when whole groups didn’t come together single Retreatants would arrive and , whether clergymen or laypeople, were made most welcome, and helped to go through spiritual exercises alone. Men who were tracked to be ordained were also received into the House. Having so many people, priests and layfolk come together created a solidarity, such that even to this day many dioceses around the world still make the annual Retreat at a Redemptorist house.

In establishing the Redemptorists, Alphonsus had established the foundations of his Institute in a hostile environment where he suffered constant State interference because of the anti-religious fervor of the time. He even had to frame his House rules in such a way as to avoid the perception of anything that could appear incompatible with the bigoted attitudes of those in authority.

This kind of limitation may be hard to understand today by those living in an a free society.

A few rules were established to move the Congregation forward such as at the Chapter of 1743 it was determined to receive sub-deacons conjointly with priests, and no Holy Orders were to be received until one was eighteen years and older. To achieve an early priesthood the brothers created their own studies within the Congregation to prepare the ordinands. The future priests members were all to have a Patrimony, which was a form of grant or title or even job, which was to fund his ordination, although in return they weren't to keep the proceeds from any employment or the administration of it.

That they may not be a burden either to the fellow priests or be a cost to the Missions, they were to tend to other Missions for free not at the expense of the Institute, and hence, once the Fathers came into any parish, they wouldn’t charge any other House for services, and in return were waited on by one among the lay brothers whom they had brought with them.

Clearly the financial restrictions and Patrimony requirements brought limitations but Providence had a different idea on how to help.

In 1784, the major turning-point for the Congregation happened when two poor spiritual seekers, one Clement Hofbauer along with and his friend Thaddeus Hubl were received. They were far from home, lacked financial support – no employ, no patrons just a trust in God to guide them. History tells us that Alphonsus well understood that Providence had guided the men and that if the Institute were ever to be planted abroad, that the methods of Mission would need to adapt once more. It was through this fated meeting that the Congregation changed to be even more outward looking and expand north of the Italian mountains, the Alps.

In 1785 on the advice of the Papal Nuncio himself, the future Saint Clement and his friend went forth as if on an adventure into foreign lands, but boldly they went on their enterprise with all the vigour and the self-importance of men on the most important mission to help the Kingdom of Christ expand into an unknown land. In their pockets and training they bore the clear credentials of a commission from their own highest Superior, along with the. And so as if they were diplomats from heaven itself, the men reached the fields of their future labour Warszawa, to Transalpine lands.

Missions so elaborate in scale in the way there were used to in Italy weren’t possible in the first country through which they passed, Austria. The authorities there made it mildly hostile but allowed enough freedom of movement so that the fathers could preach and hear many confessions. Although the Austrian government wouldn't authorise the giving of standard missions, the missionary spirit animated the fathers who toiled for the salvation of souls. Despite what the work looked like while not bearing the name Mission many of the results and fruits of Mission were in fact achieved.

One result to this day of St Clement’s work is as follows: the Institute, whether its priest members are on mission are not, is supported by the people directly rather than by the need for patrimony, leaving the Gospel to be preached more freely. Also, the gates of the Congregation are thrown open such that hospitality is given to many non-religious, and thus a major fruit has been the expansion of the types of labour and trades members perform, and therefore the results of growth worldwide are in proportion to the extension of knowledge and skills.

Although it'd be nice to argue that various small groups of clergy would constitute mission work in the Northern Eurpoean countries the reality is these were no greater than a band of a few brothers giving sacraments. Full formal mission work did not resume until the Redemptorists arrived in Belgium in 1831 such that now there is an unbroken presence of organized missions whose primary occupation is his or her apostolic zeal. From that time the Redemptorists have not looked back, and although there have been periods of drought, it's fair to state that the work of the House missions as established by the central Congregation is one of ever ever-increasing expansion and success. Few modifications of approach have been introduced so as to meet government requirements and to work within the customs of various countries. And so in substance the work goes on, reaping ever more important fruits of conversions, of more places for religious rites to take place, and the increasing sophistication among the Catholic populace.

Meanwhile, the introduction of the Institute into the States at the same time as expansion into other European countries had the fortune of enjoying similar success. But here, also, they were grew in ways not as they expected. By the unforeseeable trend of events and steer of God we may imagine that they visited America expecting to spend most of the time evangelising of the Native American tribes, and, in fact, a number of the missionaries did place themselves into the roles of evangelising the Native Indians but there were more pressing needs to be met, such as the swarms of Catholic immigrants from all the countries of Europe, specially from Germany, and in sheer diversity way surpassing any Indians they may have reached. Many immigrant folk were living without pastors or any other religious care and were in grave danger of losing their faiths. The Missionaries felt themselves called to labour for these souls in peril, and as their people’s numbers multiplied they were ready to accomplish most sacred work of in evangelising the immigrants, and therefore keeping them attached and loyal to Christ. Certainly, parishes of the kind we know today weren’t around, no tidy picket fences or rectories with comfortable hearths.

Because the original Rule doesn't consider the administrative oversight of parishes, the rise of church attendees raised serious issues that needed to be addressed. At the 1921 Chapter meeting, the Rule was modified to allow the appointment of Priests and to decide what was to be done when circumstances changed in mission life.

The Redemptorists were plainly overworked.

Another issue arouse in relation to the giving of Retreats to nuns. This is because of the extraordinary increase of female spiritual orders in nearly all the countries of Europe within the time of St Alphonsus and yet there was a lack of priests willing and ready to conduct the spiritual exercises of a Nun’s Retreat for this multiplicity of devoted Souls. However at a general assembly it was decided that General Dispensation would be given to the Congregation in order that the preaching at such Retreats would return and be thought among one of the traditional roles of the Redemptorist’s missionary activity.

As a result, despite there being no extension of the order itself extra resources were devoted to what was known as a Juvenate now known as a Minor Seminary where boys would be trained for the novitiate. The focus on such establishments became a necessity so as to produce a supply of men equal to maintain the numbers to support the Nuns at Retreat, for example. But, certainly, these don't seem to be schools or faculties within the normal sense of the term, for they are much more than just aiming to give children associates degrees. The goal was for them to become Redemptorists. As we can surmise, although such establishments weren’t explicitly part of the original Rule they’re not against it either and so must have been allowable in some embryonic form from the start.

That St Alphonsus continually had a powerful attraction for foreign missions is definite, and, in fact, he himself envisioned expanding the order by creating a major mission to South Africa. Additionally, in The Saint’s first drafts of the Rule, there are notes to the effect that the Fathers ought make a special vow to take to go on missions to save the lost in foreign lands, and the Holy See should support the effort, if possible. Unfortunately, this idea didn’t get through the Roman censors but was deleted from the final version as being extraneous: the temperament of the priests to undertake such missions should be and only be at the command of the Pope who was in direct charge of missionary work. Nevertheless history records that a remote mission was in fact suggested to the Holy Founder later on—namely, an expedition to the Orient but for reasons unknown to this day the mission didn’t progress into any actual work being done.

However the mind of St Alphonsus is clear that missions to non-believers is to be desired and not outside the scope of the Congregation. As a matter of record, as time goes on, these missions require more than half the Institute’s resources and time. One of these which was very involved was that to the Prefecture Apostolic of Matadi in the Congo, which was being worked by the Belgian fathers.

The Apostolate of the Press, begun we could say by the Holy Doctor St Alphonsus himself, continues to this day and involves very many Redemptorist Fathers, many of whom are involved with apostolates through magazines and blogs. In