Friday, August 1, 2014

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, bishop and doctor of the Church

(Jeremiah 26:1-9; Matthew 13:54-58)

If a bank robber threatened you with your life to act as his accomplice by driving his get-away car, could you do so without committing a sin?  It’s not an easy question to answer since it seems that you would be giving immediate material cooperation that is generally forbidden.  Moralists are likely divided on the issue which brings us to St. Alphonsus Ligouri whose feast day is today.

Alphonsus lived during a time of great debate among moral theologians. Some, called probablists, held that one could take a position in favor of freedom on a difficult issue – in the above, that it would be permissible to cooperate with the bank robber – if at least one accredited moralist held that position.  Others, named probabilorists, believed that it is always necessary to follow the opinion with the most internal reasons.  St. Alphonsus settled the issue with his typical wisdom.  He wrote that one could take a position of freedom if there are as many internal arguments in its favor as there are in favor of the law.

We live in an age that exalts information.  Especially through the Internet a mountain of facts are at one’s fingertips.  But there is a scarcity of wisdom, the ability to live rightly in any circumstances in which we find ourselves.  People like St. Alphonsus are gifts from God to be heeded and followed.