St Alphonsus and his fierce love of Jesus and Mary

475px-cleaned-up-OLPH-icon-Our_Holy_Mother_Of_Perpetual_SuccourToday we celebrate the feast day of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists. Our bishop, +Tobin, is among this congregation so we hold him in special prayer today.  Alphonsus had a fierce love of Jesus and Mary.  First, Jesus. He wrote this:  “I Love Jesus Christ and that is why I am on fire with the desire to give Him souls, first of all my own, and then an incalculable number of others.”  For this reason, the salvation of souls, he was an itinerant preacher and a terrific moral theologian; he knew that when we are strong in virtue our souls are strong. He wrote over 100 books. Second, he had a love of Mary–and it flowed from his love of Jesus. He died at 91, after reciting the noon angelus and is said to have spent the night in prayer to Our Lady. The Redemptorists are famous for the Our Lady of Perpetual Help icon, perhaps the most widely known and venerated icon there is. Let’s spend some time with this icon today. This image always reminds me of the joy we ought to find in Mary’s help. With her, life is easier. Archbishop Tobin recounts a story. He was speaking to a wise priest, and this priest remarked that his favorite thing about the icon was Mary’s smile. +Tobin, confused, said, “I don’t see her smiling.”  The priest said, “Then you haven’t spent enough time with her.”