Archives for August 2012

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.

The Life of St. Andrew the Apostle

Have you ever wondered how Christianity started, and how it lived through thousands of years? St. Andrew’s life answers both of those questions. He was one of the forefathers of our church, and his story is one that will give you great pride to be a Catholic.

The Apostles were the first founders of the church. They delivered God’s message all over trying to convert as many people to the Christian faith as possible. The problem was that many did not believe in Christianity at the time, and many killed Christians because of that disbelief. St. Andrew took great risks in his life to deliver the word of God to everyone, and that led him to a torturous death.

St. Andrew began his Christian life by preaching God to the people of Byzantium and Thrace. He then travelled to Danube, Epirus in Greece, Peloponnesos, and then to the Black Sea in Russia. While in Russia, he took a Cross and placed it on a mountain. He told the people that Russia would have a bright Christian future.

St. Andrew converted many people to Christianity in Russia. He even went as far as to try to convert the brother and wife of the Russian ruler at that time, Proconsul Aegeates. This is what led to his abomination. When the Proconsul Aegeates found out, he ordered him to torture and crucifixion.

St. Andrew was hung on a cross just like Christ was. While he was still alive on the cross, he continued to speak to the Christian people to tell them what to do to continue Christianity. The people were captivated by him, and wanted to take him down from the cross. However, St. Andrew accepted his fate and God’s will. He told them he would remain on the cross to die.

St. Andrew prayed to God while he was on the cross. While he did, a bright light appeared around him. This light lasted for a half hour. Once the light disappeared, the Apostle gave up his soul to God, and he took his last breath.

St. Andrew was one of the first 12 Apostles. He did what the Lord asked of him. He went around the countries delivering Christianity to those who did not know about it, or did not believe it. He converted many, and gave them the knowledge and faith they needed to convert others.

Why We Need to Remember St. Andrew

The reason why we have Christianity today is because of these first Apostles, like St. Andrew. They did whatever they had to do to make Christianity live and grow. If it weren’t for their strength, and their bravery to show that the Christian faith is deep enough to suffer through torture for it, Christianity might not have made it through thousands of years.

As you sit to pray today, remember St. Andrew and all of the other Apostles that gave their life for the Lord. The reason why you pray, and know of our great Lord is because of them, so they deserve appreciation for everything they did for you, and for everyone.

Saint Anastasia: Patron Saint of Widows

Many saints during the time of Christian persecution chose suffering over denying God. However, not many saints actually showed the signs of their sainthood during their persecution. St. Anastasia escaped torture and death many times before she was finally killed. She was a special saint with God by her side along the way, and many people saw the amazement of her.

When Saint Anastasia was born, her father was a pagan and her mother was secretly a Christian. She refused to let anyone know because at that time she would have been killed. Unfortunately, her mother died at a young age, and her father made her marry a fellow pagan – Pablius.

Even though Pablius believed he would have sex with his wife, St. Anastasia remained a virgin by telling him that she was sick all the time.

In disguise, St. Anastasia spent her time helping  prisoners. She would feed them, and care for them if they were ill. These prisoners were not ones who were being held due to horrible crimes, these were the ones who were captured because they believed in God.

Unfortunately, her good deeds in disguise did not remain hidden for long. Her husband found out. He had her beaten and locked up for what she was doing for the Christians.

While locked up, she started to communicate with St. Chrysogonus. He suggested that she be patient, turn to God in times of need, and accept His will. St. Chrysogonus also predicted her husband’s death by sea. Sure enough, soon after his prediction, St. Anastasia’s husband drowned.

When her husband died, she took their property and divided it among the poor. She then travelled all around the cities preaching to Christian prisoners. She also helped to care for them medically by healing their wounds. Since she helped so many people recover from poisons, she was named Deliverer from Potions.

After some time though, she was captured again. The pagan who captured her offered her riches or torturous tools. She chose the torturous tools because she would rather suffer than have to deny God. The pagan gave her three days to change her mind, and then tried to rape her. When he touched her though, he went blind. His head started to ache as well, and he screamed loudly, just like a madman. He hurried over to the pagan temple for help, but died before he could get there.

While she escaped death and torture many times, there came a time when she did end up being killed for her Christian beliefs. She was stretched between four pillars, and a fire was set beneath her. She was burned alive. What’s amazing is that her body was unscathed. A women by the name of Apollinaria buried St. Anastasia’s body in a garden, but her body was just as it was before the burning.

St. Anastasia’s story is one of strength, perseverance and the power of the Lord. Remember her story when you are going through a difficult time in your life. Anything is possible in life when you have faith in God.

St. Emilia: The Mother of Five Saints

As we get ready to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, lets take a look at another notable mother, St. Emilia.
Sometimes St. Emilia is also known as St. Amelia. St. Emilia was truly blessed. Not only was she able to have ten children, but five of them were considered saints of the church. You couldn’t ask for better children. While there isn’t much information about St. Emilia’s life, there’s enough to show how good her heart and soul was in the faith. Most notably, St. Emilia was the mother to Saint Basil the Great. She was also mother to St. Macrina, St. Peter of Sebaste, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Theosebia. When she had her children, her first and only job was to instill the Holy Orthodox faith in them. She taught them how to pray to God. She also taught and showed them how they could live their life in service of Him.

In her life, she suffered one of the greatest heartaches as a mother; she lost one of her children. This was devastating to her, but her youngest daughter St. Macrina came to her aide by reminding her to take comfort in the Lord. When all of her children were grown, St. Emilia decided to leave her home to find a monastery in a secluded area. Her youngest daughter Macrina came with her. She lived a very meager life while at the monastery. She split up all of her land between her children, and only left enough for her to get by in the new living place While she didn’t plan for anyone else besides her daughter to join her at the monastery, a group of female slaves decided to move in. Due to this gathering, the monastery became a convent. The convent valued fasting and poverty. They found it to be what God truly wanted people to live in. Their community was untouched by negative emotions such as, anger, jealousy, and hatred. They had nothing but pride for their life in seclusion, and took delight in pleasing the Lord in this way.

What We Can Learn from St. Emilia

St. Emilia’s devoted her life to giving birth to the next generation of Christians. She instilled Christian faith in her children at a young age, and then when they were grown she showed them that she practiced what she preached. Most people would never think of dividing all their assets among their children before death, but that’s what St. Emilia did. She knew that God would provide her whatever she needed while in seclusion.

Her dedication to the Lord is admirable. This might be why the slaves came to join her. They must have heard about how she gave up everything she had to live for the Lord, and they were intrigued by this – they wanted to join her in the special way she was devoting herself to God.

By not only instilling God’s faith in her children, she also did for the slaves. This is pleasing to God, and something everyone should keep in mind as they live their life. Bringing your children before God to show them how important he is, and then doing what God wants you to do in your life is how you can follow St. Emilia’s example.