Virtues From a Pastor of Souls
Every month, St. Alphonsus gives us practical ways to imitate Christ
Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696–1787) was a man of many accomplishments. Ordained to the priesthood at the age of thirty, he was a tireless preacher of the word of God, a popular writer on theological and spiritual topics, and the founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists). I believe his greatest accomplishment was his ability to preach the gospel and explain Catholic spiritual direction. In the truest sense of the phrase, he was a pastor of souls.
He considered the moral virtues, many and varied as they are, as gifts that enable us to shape our conscious behavior according to the law of God as revealed to us by Jesus. In characteristic fashion, Alphonsus proposed a practical plan that could help ordinary people grow in their imitation of Christ. He recommended the practice of the “virtue of the month”: the idea of highlighting a different key Christian virtue each month and giving special attention to that virtue in one’s reading, reflection, prayer, and daily faith life.
Today Liguorian presents an overview of the “virtue of the month” according to the pattern written by St. Alphonsus. Those who follow this practical plan of spirituality will discover that it allows them a great deal of freedom to apply the virtue of the month to specific circumstances in their life.
The important point is that the Christian virtues are not theoretical constructs to be admired but practical gifts to be used in living a Christian life. Throughout 2017, Liguorian will offer a variety of editorial content to add to your knowledge and understanding of each virtue during its corresponding month.
Faith is God’s first gift to us. Faith has many facets and definitions, but it is, above all, our response to the revelation of God. God has revealed himself to us in many ways, but the fullness of his revelation is in Jesus Christ, (Hebrews 1:1–3). Everything about Jesus reveals God to us: his words and works, his signs and miracles, his death and his glorious resurrection. During January, you might try the following: Set aside time to grow your knowledge of God’s revelation. This could include a planned time for reading Scriptures or studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Next, open yourself up in prayer to the Holy Spirit. Alphonsus says, “Let us never cease asking with the apostles, ‘Lord increase our faith.’” Finally, examine how you are living the faith. In the words of Alphonsus, “It is not enough only to believe all that our holy faith teaches us; we must also direct our lives in accordance with our faith.”
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