If you’ve been missing Pat McNamara’s blogposts and columns about the history of the Catholic Church both in America, and in general, (and I know I have been missing them) then I am pleased to announce that he’s back, baby, he’s back, and he kicks off his return with a look at St. Alphonsus Ligouri and the Redemptorists, or, as he was Christened, Alfonso Maria Antonio Giovanni Francesco Cosimo Damiano Michel Angelo Gasparro de Liguori.
This Thursday is his birthday, so it’s a timely piece — interesting, too!
If Naples was a paradise for the rich, it was the opposite for the poor, banished to the surrounding hills. Their lot was poverty, malaria, death, and backbreaking labor. Prayer and discernment led Father Alphonsus to conclude that God was asking him to serve those people known as “the damned of the earth.”
Like-minded priests gathered around him. Alphonsus had long replaced fear of God with love of God. His primary image of Jesus was that of redeemer, regenerating the world with His love. The new community, founded in 1732, was called the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, and its members Redemptorists.
Their goal was to follow Jesus the Redeemer in preaching the Good News to the poor, “a vocation for the abandoned.” Through the parish mission, a week-long religious revival, they aimed at rebooting the community’s spiritual life through preaching, Mass, and confession. They traveled throughout rural Italy to the poorest of the poor.
Read it all, and welcome back, Pat!