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ST. ALPHONSUS was born of noble parents, near Naples, in 1696. His spiritual training was intrusted to the Fathers of the Oratory in that city, and from his boyhood Alphonsus was known as a most devout Brother of the Little Oratory. At the early age of sixteen he was made doctor in law, and he threw himself into this career with ardor and success. A mistake, by which he lost an important cause, showed him the vanity of human fame, and determined him to labor only for the glory of glory He entered the priesthood, devoting himself to. the most neglected souls; and to carry on this work he founded later the missionary Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. At the age of sixty-six he became Bishop of St. Agatha, and undertook the reform of his diocese with the zeal of a Saint. He made a vow never to lose time, and, though his life was spent in prayer and work, he composed a vast number of books, filled with such science, unction, and wisdom that he has been declared one of the Doctors of the Church. St. Alphonsus wrote his first book at the age of forty-nine, and in his eighty-third year had published about sixty volumes, when his director forbade him to write more. Very many of these books were written in the half-hours snatched from his labors as missionary, religious superior, and Bishop, or in the midst of continual bodily and mental sufferings. With his left hand he would hold a piece of marble against his aching head while his right hand wrote. Yet he counted no time wasted which was spent in charity. He did not refuse to hold a long correspondence with a simple soldier who asked his advice, or to play the harpsichord while he taught his novices to sing spiritual canticles. He lived in evil times, and met with many persecutions and disappointments. For his last seven years he was prevented by constant sickness from offering the Adorable Sacrifice; but he received Holy Communion daily, and his love for Jesus Christ and his trust in Mary's prayers sustained him to the end. He died in 1787, in his ninety-first year.
Reflection. —Let us do with all our heart the duty of each day, leaving the result to God, as well as the care of the future. God.
ST. STEPHEN was by birth a Roman, and, being promoted to holy orders, was made archdeacon under the holy Popes St. Cornelius and St. Lucius. The latter? having suffered martyrdom, St. Stephen was chosen to succeed him, and was elected Pope on the 3d of May, 253. The controversy concerning the rebaptization of heretics gave St. Stephen much trouble. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church, that Baptism given in the name of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity is valid, though it be conferred by a heretic. St. Stephen suffered himself patiently to be traduced as a favorer of heresy in approving heretical baptism, not doubting but those great men who by mistaken zeal were led astray would, when the heat of the dispute had subsided, calmly open their eyes to the truth. Thus by his zeal he preserved the integrity of faith, and by his toleration and forbearance saved many souls. The persecutions becoming violent, he assembled the faithful together in the underground tombs of the martyrs, to celebrate Mass and to exhort them to remain true to Christ. On the 2d of August, 257, while seated in his pontifical chair, he was beheaded by the satellites of the emperor; and the chair is still shown, stained with his blood.
Lives Of The Saints By Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. Edition www.globalgrey.co.uk
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, wherefore He hath anointed me, to preach the gospel to the poor, He hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart. Ps. 77, 1. Attend, O My people, to My law: incline your ear to the words of My mouth. Glory be …
O God, Who through blessed Alphonsus Mary, Thy confessor and bishop, fired with zeal for souls, didst cause Thy Church to bring forth a new progeny, we beseech Thee that, being taught by his wholesome precepts, and strengthened by his example, we may be enabled happily to come unto Thee. Through our Lord.
O eternal Shepherd, do Thou look favorably upon Thy flock, which we beseech Thee to guard and keep for evermore through the blessed Stephen I, Thy Martyr and Supreme Pontiff, who Thou didst choose to be the chief shepherd of the whole Church. Through our Lord.
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to the Timothy.
[He exhorts him to diligence in his office and patience in suffering. The danger of the delusions of heretics.]
Dearly beloved, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus: And the things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also. Labour as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No man, being a soldier to God, entangleth himself with secular businesses; that he may please him to whom he hath engaged himself. For he also that striveth for the mastery, is not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman, that laboureth, must first partake of the fruits. Understand what I say: for the Lord will give thee in all things understanding.
I remember, O Lord, Thy judgements of old, and I was comforted; a fainting hath taken hold of me because of the wicked that forsake Thy law. Ps. 39, 11. I have not hid Thy justice within my heart. I have declared Thy truth and Thy salvation.
Alleluia, alleluia. Ecclus. 49, 3, 4. He was directed by God unto the repentance of the nation, and he took away the abominations of wickedness; and he directed his heart toward the Lord; and in the days of sinners he strengthened godliness. Alleluia.
Continuation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke.
[Christ sends forth and instructs his seventy-two disciples. The good Samaritan.]
At that time, the Lord appointed also other seventy-two: and he sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither he himself was to come. And he said to them: The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send labourers into his harvest. Go: Behold I send you as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes; and salute no man by the way. Into whatsoever house you enter, first say: Peace be to this house.
And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And in the same house, remain, eating and drinking such things as they have: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Remove not from house to house. And into what city soever you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick that are therein, and say to them: The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
Honor the Lord with thy substance, and give Him of the first of all thy fruits. Do not withhold him from doing good who is able: if thou art able, do good thyself also.
O Lord Jesus Christ, burn our hearts thoroughly with the heavenly fire of this sacrifice for an odor of sweetness, Thou Who didst grant to blessed Alphonsus Mary both to celebrate these mysteries and, through them, to offer him to Thee a holy victim. Who livest.
In Thy loving kindness, we beseech Thee, O Lord, be moved by the offering of our gifts and enlighten Thy Church: that Thy flock may prosper everywhere and the shepherds, under Thy guidance, may be rendered acceptable to thee. Through our Lord.
A great priest, who in his life propped up the house, and in his days fortified the temple as bright fire, and frankincense burning in the fire.
O God, Who didst cause blessed Alphonsus Mary, Thy confessor and bishop faithfully to dispense and preach this divine mystery, grant, by his merits and prayers, that Thy faithful may both frequently receive it, and, receiving it, praise it forever. Through our Lord.
Since Thy Church has been nourished by the sacred repast, govern her in Thy clemency, we beseech Thee, O Lord, so that under the guidance of Thy mighty rule she may enjoy greater freedom and abiding integrity of religion. Through our Lord.