The Catholic Defender: Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez “Greater Glory of God”
Alphonsus is the patron saint of Jesuit brothers. Today Jesuit brothers serve alongside Jesuit priests in a variety of ministries in over 112 countries on six continents. The brothers offer who they are and what they have for the “Greater Glory of God”.
At the very heart of the spirituality of St. Alphonsus is love: God's love for us and our love for God in re- sponse. Saint Alphonsus was overwhelmed by God's love for him and for all of us, and for Alphonsus, this was especially manifest in Jesus. Jesus is the unshake- able sign and proof that God loves us.
Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ. Born in Segovia, Spain, in 1532, he is the patron saint of the lay brothers of the Company of Jesus (the Jesuits). Jesuit lay brothers are men who are called to the religious life as Jesuits but who are not called to priestly ministry.
Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer.
Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter, and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business, and with his young son, moved into his sister’s home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation.
At the death of his son years later, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations.
His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including Saint Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’ life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but centuries later he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems.
Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.
Description: O God, in the faithful service of our brother Alphonsus You have shown us the way to joy and peace. Make us ready and watchful companions of Jesus, who became the servant of all, and now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
We like to think that God rewards the good, even in this life. But Alphonsus knew business losses, painful bereavement, and periods when God seemed very distant. None of his suffering made him withdraw into a shell of self-pity or bitterness. Rather, he reached out to others who lived with pain, including enslaved Africans. Among the many notables at his funeral were the sick and poor people whose lives he had touched. May they find such a friend in us!