Early in the year 1730 a young priest was recovering his broken health in the west of Italy. While there, he met a number of the local people, mostly peasants, who gathered around him and asked to be instructed in their Faith. He was astonished and upset at the ignorance of these poor people, about the good God Whom he himself loved with such ardour; and he determined to I found a Congregation of Priests who would work as missionaries to spread the knowledge and love of God among neglected souls such as these.
Today that young priest is known as St. Alphonsus Liguori, and his Congregation of priests as the Redemptorist Fathers. St. Alphonsus was an amazing character; a successful lawyer before he became a priest, the founder of a religious order, a zealous missionary for many years, the author of many beautiful books on spiritual and moral subjects, a Bishop and finally a canonised Saint and Doctor of the Church. One of his fellow bishops said of him: "Monsignor Liguori thinks of nothing but the glory of God."
How true were those words! So ardently did he love God himself, so earnestly did he desire to see all men love Him also, that he took a vow never to lose a moment of time, but to spend every minute of his life promoting the love of God in the hearts of men.
His great weapon in this task was prayer; he is called by the Church the Doctor of Prayer. He used to spend hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament each day. He never preached without exhorting his listeners to be constant in prayer. He wrote a little booklet on prayer that he considered more important than any other of his works. Of it he said: "Would that I could have it translated into every language, and place a copy in the hand of everyone, so that all might see the necessity of prayer." In that little booklet we find these significant words: "All who are in Heaven today are there because they prayed; all who are in Hell are there because they did not pray." And he adds: "If you pray you will certainly be saved; if you do not pray, you will infallibly be lost." We celebrate the feast of this great Doctor of Prayer on August 2nd. We might well ask him to obtain for us the grace of fidelity to prayer, that, like him, through our prayers and good works, we may "certainly be saved." G. J.
- Malaya Catholic Newsletter, July 30, 1950 (1950.pdf pp27)