St. Alphonsus: Yardstick for Moral Theology

When you commit a sin, how guilty do you feel? Do you often feel bad for a few minutes, hours or days, and then let it go? If you do, you are normal. This is what most people do. When they commit a sin, they ask God for forgiveness, and then accept they are not perfect. St. Alphonsus was not like that though. He suffered from a psychological disorder called scrupulosity. This disorder caused him to feel incredible guilt over moral and religious issues. He justified his disorder by saying this:

Scruples are useful in the beginning of conversion…they cleanse the soul, and at the same time make it careful.

There’s much more to know about St. Alphonsus, and especially the reasons why he felt so strongly about sin.

St. Alphonsus was born in 1696 into Neapolitan nobility. When he reached the age of sixteen, he went to law school to become a lawyer. He wasn’t happy being a lawyer though. He felt there was too much sin, and risk in it. After he lost a case, he left his legal career. He decided he was better suited for a career in religion.

He decided to attend the Oratory of St. Philip Neri to become a priest. Upon becoming a priest, he moved in with the homeless and marginalized youth providing comfort by preaching God’s Word. After some time, he decided to found the Evening Chapels. These were chapels managed by the youth to provide a place to pray, preach, play, and educate other youth.

St. Alphonsus had a great ability to preach to people in a way that converted them to the faith. For this reason, Sister Maria Celest Crostarosa came to him to reveal that God wanted him to found a congregation. This led St. Alphonsus to found the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer where the poor could come to receive God’s Word.

In 1762, St. Alphonsus received the great honor of becoming Bishop of Sant’Agata dei Goti. During his term, he decided to write many sermons, books, and articles about the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the importance of showing devotion to her.

A Closer Look at St. Alphonsus Morals

While many will say that St. Alphonsus had a psychological disorder, it might have been just an intense passion for religious order. Yes, it’s clear why he could not remain a lawyer. How could you when the legal system is full of sin and moral dilemmas?

St. Alphonsus took some time to get to his true mission in life, which was to serve God. He did something great for the youth of Naples by showing them right from wrong. He also showed them the power God could have on their life. These poor people were suffering, and he gave them a gift. He gave them the knowledge that God is with them even though they are poor. He showed them that they could depend on God to help them through life no matter if they are poor, sick, or any other of life difficulties.