St. Alphonsus Liguori Maxims for those Discerning Priesthood
St. Alphonsus Liguori Maxims for those Discerning Priesthood
August 1st, 2018 by Wayne

Today is the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, the patron saint of those discerning the call to the priesthood. Born in 1696, as a young man, Alphonsus wanted nothing more than to please his father and to do whatever his father asked of him. That meant that instead of going to school he was privately tutored at home and received a doctor of law at the young age of 16 while also maintaining a good life of prayer and devotion to God. Soon, however, he started having success in the courtroom and he followed the life that his success offered. He began to neglect his relationship with God but still made his father proud by never losing a case in the first 8 years of his career. However, the ways of the world lost all their luster when he emphatically lost a case for the first time. He spent three straight days without food and, in a moment of clarity and grace, decided never to practice law again. Instead he returned to his life of prayer and service and it was in the midst of this service that Alphonsus heard God ask him to serve as His priest. Immediately, Alphonsus promised the Lord that he would be a priest, even though he knew it would displease his father. Three years later, at the age of 30, Alphonsus was ordained a priest and missionary and later founded the Redemptorist order. 

While a priest, Alphonsus became a prolific writer and a sought after missionary preacher. He traveled many miles and preached to whomever needed to hear the word of God. Undoubtedly, this talented lawyer had truly found the path God had planned for him in his life! While many of his writings and sermons are very well known (his Stations of the Cross among the most popular), one of the most important works of his for those discerning the priesthood is his writings “On the Dignity and Duties of the Priest.” While the work is lengthy, we provide here the 12 maxims he gave himself while in formation for the priesthood. We hope that they can be of some guidance to you as you continue in your discernment. Recognize in these statements the importance St. Alphonsus placed on each of these items. While not all of these will make sense in your own daily life, given your current state in life, we encourage you, nonetheless, to take some time to reflect on the importance you place on these. Perhaps they will help you see an area in your spiritual life that might need strengthening. St. Alphonsus Liguori, patron of discerners, pray for us!

1. The cleric should frequent the society of holy priests, to be edified by their example.

2. He should spend at least one hour daily in mental prayer, that he may live in fervor and recollection.

3. He should visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently, especially during the time of exposition.

4. He should read the lives of holy priests, that he may imitate their virtues.

5. He must cultivate a special devotion to the Virgin, the Mother and Queen of the clergy, and consecrate himself particularly to her service.

6. For the honor of the ecclesiastical state he must be most careful of his reputation.

7. He should flee from worldly conversation, and not be too familiar with the laity, especially women.

8. Seeing God in his Superiors, he must obey them, because such is the divine will.

9. He should be modest, but without affectation, severity, or fastidiousness; and he should always wear the cassock and tonsure.

10. He should be quiet and gentle at home, exemplary in class, and edifying in church, especially during the public offices.

11. He should confess every eight days, and communicate still oftener.

12. He should live free from sin, and practise every virtue.

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