Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Choose Vocation and Choose the Cross

Saint Alphonsus Liguori is a model of hope in the midst of human oppositions. His own life shows the inextricable intertwining of the Lord's Cross and the life of anyone who chooses the priestly dignity, born of the graces and sacrifice of that same Holy Cross.

Since the Son of God established His Church on earth at the price of His sufferings, He does nothing great here below without using the cross as an instrument.
Alphonsus, having been called by Him to found the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, could not escape this rule. Hence how fearfully he had to suffer in his difficult undertaking!

When his project became known, all Naples was let loose against him; he was treated as a visionary, a fanatic, a deluded person, he was even proclaimed from the pulpit as a deplorable example of the fatal illusion of a victim of pride and presumption.
The assaults he had to undergo from his family and his friends were still more bitter to him. His father, a venerable old man, held him pressed to his bosom for three whole hours, speaking most tenderly to keep him in the paternal mansion.
The Propaganda of Naples, to which he belonged, called a meeting of the members against him, and with unexampled animosity unanimously expelled him, and even deprived him of his benefice. What shocks were these to his heart! But his confidence in God supported him against all human attacks and persecutions.

To cap the climax of his humiliations, he saw himself abandoned by his first companions; and this aggravated the public feeling against him. And, indeed, did not such an event seem to justify the public opposition to his project? Did not even God seem to take sides with his adversaries? Alphonsus needed all the faith of Abraham, to keep up his hope in this circumstance. “God does not need me,” he wrote to his director, (who was then also wavering,) “but I stand in need of God.”

He did even more; at the very height of his troubles, he pushed his heroism so far as to oblige himself by vow to continue the work he had begun, were he to remain alone to do it. This was the decisive point; his confidence was soon rewarded by the arrival of new companions.

(The above text was composed by The Servant of God Fr. Louis Bronchain, C.SS.R. 1829-1892. Art is courtesy of and Transalpine Redemptorists.)