I can’t think of a better feast day to start a blog on law than this feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori. He had earned doctorates in both civil law and canon law by the time he was sixteen. It was considered impossible to do that before the age of twenty. In today’s parlance, St. Alphonsus was a nerd, a geek, a brain. He was short and homely and crippled with arthritis and very bad eyesight. But he was smart. He became well known and esteemed in his native Naples, as one of the best lawyers in that city. One huge case came his way and that is when he blew it. Everyone was watching and talking about this case. It was a civil case between a Nobleman and the Duke of Tuscany and thought to be worth a half million dollars (in today’s money) in damages. St. Alphonsus gave his brilliant opening to the Court and sat smugly down. He was The Man and this case was just a formality to the renown ahead of him. Opposing counsel rose and informed Alphonsus and the Court “Your arguments are wasted breath. You have overlooked a document which destroys your whole case!” And it did, that day. This is every trial lawyer’s worst nightmare. St. Alphonsus took to his bed for three days, overwhelmed with the public humiliation, not to mention his displeased client.
In the end he read into this experience that God had sent him this experience to break down his massive ego. The rest is history. St. Alphonsus never went back to the law. He became a priest, founded the Redemptorists wrote more than a hundred books, preached thousands of missions, and always served the poor first during his ninety-one years of life. Alphonse was not only canonized but named a Doctor of the Church. There is a very long and full bio at Redemptorists.net. Even at ninety-one it is hard to imagine fitting all of that into one life.
I think an education in law prepares you for just about anything life throws at you. St. Alphonse took his knowledge and talents in law and saved a lot of souls with them. It’s not too late to do the Novena to St. Alphonsus at the Redemptorist site. One of the best novena prayers for intercession.
“Bear well in mind that you have neither friend nor brother nor father nor mother nor spouse nor lover who loves you more than God” St. Alphonsus
Patron Saint of Confessors, Moral Theologians, and sufferers of arthritis.
My favorite Redemptorists: Joseph W. Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R. of Newark, NJ and Rev. Donald Miniscalco, C.Ss.R., a preacher of countless missions and the best mission preacher I have ever heard.