In a similar post I wrote a short time ago, it’s impossible to read the lives of the saints and not notice their small circle of fellow saints. It seems like 16th century Spain was an abundant center for saint fellowship.
At the time, there was St. Theresa of Avila connecting with and embracing St. John of the Cross as part of the reform movement. Then there was St. Peter Claver and Alphonsus Rodriguez. The former a priest in training and the latter a lay brother who is was a porter for the Jesuits. St.Alphonsus was in large part responsible for Father Claver traveling to Cartagena, Columbia and beginning his missionary work with the newly arrived African slaves. For this, Father Claver remembered Alphonsus in his prayers while away.
Let’s focus on Alphonsus Rodriguez
In his teens, Alphonsus was responsible for overseeing the family business after his father died. Eventually, he got married and had three children. Unfortunately, the business ended up failing and tragic events caused all his family members to die. Upon the death of his last child, Alphonsus decided to enter the Jesuits but was declined after him not being educated enough and dealing with poor health.
Eventually, after some years, he was admitted into the Society of Jesus as a lay brother. In this role, he mainly served as a porter. His duties involved greeting people at the door, offering spiritual advice to those seeking help, and was all around a well respected and admired figure. People came to him for guidance about paths in life or seeking God’s will. This servant of God was able to provide those with a pathway to love of God. One could only imagine the holy advice this servant Of God gave to those willing to listen to a man humble at heart.
Now, let’s focus on the image of a door. They either lock, open, or close. Jesus, in some transitions, refers to himself figuratively as the door or gate through him salvation is awarded to those who enter.
St. Alphonsus was a doorkeeper for the Society of Jesus. He often saw people walk in and out, some offered small talk while others just passed by him without being phased. All along there he stood at the door offering holy counsel to those in need. It’s through his advice and spiritual guidance that he helped people ultimately walk through the only door that mattered.
It is said that when St Alphonsus died in May 1617, many people came to pay homage to him. Including those that were poor and sought Friendship to this servant Of God. Him being a simple doorkeeper and errand runner had a vast influence on people in Majorca, Spain.
St. Alphonsus life got me thinking how often am I quick to offer wisdom and allow my holiness to impact those closest to me? Similarly, am I allowing myself to offer God’s perspective on Sacred Scripture rather than mines to help meet the needs of others? Most importantly, St. Alphonsus was the first point of contact for many religious and non-religious people. He gave them an example to emulate as he opened with outstretched love for all he encountered.
His biography got me wondering, “Am I positioning myself to be the perfect point of contact for others as I show them the way to the door that leads to Christ?”
St. Alphonsus was allowing his holiness and advice to cultivate those around him no matter the age, socioeconomic status, or role in the Church.
His impact is vital to the success of St. Peter Claver. If it weren’t for his mystical revelations, there probably would be no Father Claver as the “Apostle to the Slaves.”
This humble saint saw Christ as everyone who came to him. We all could definitely benefit greatly be seeing everyone as such. St. Alphonsus shows us that no matter the difficulty of life or hardships underwent, God, can work in order to bring about a huge good.
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The One Year Book of Saints
Br. Gebhard Frohlich Icon of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez