Today is the memorial of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez. The following reflection was shared by Fr. Mark Carr, director of my “happy place” (aka the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh. Fr. Mark writes:
Today the Society of Jesus celebrates the memorial of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ (1533-1617). He is most known for his example of humility, kindness, and hospitality. For over forty years he lived the vocation of a Jesuit brother and served as the doorkeeper of the Jesuit college of Montesión in Majorca.
Through a life of simplicity, humility, and dedication to work Alphonsus embodied a life of sanctity through service. Because of Alphonsus and the countless other Jesuit brothers, the Society of Jesus says that in many ways “the religious brother embodies religious life in its essence, and so is able to illustrate that life with particular clarity.”
Whenever the doorbell rang at Montesión, and on the way to greet the arriving visitor, Alphonsus would repeat the words, “I’m coming, Lord!” He met every visitor as though the person was Christ himself. Centuries later, the writer Kathleen Norris’s description of hospitality captured what Alphonsus lived daily: “True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person.”
During his life, Alphonsus came into contact with other saints. As a boy growing up in Segovia, his family hosted the visiting Jesuit preacher, Fr. Peter Favre, SJ, one of St. Ignatius’ first companions! Later in life, his spiritual conversations with Peter Claver, SJ, inspired the young Jesuit scholastic to become a missionary and devote his life to ministry among the slaves arriving in the Americas. Saintliness, holiness, is contagious. Indeed, we’re all called to live lives of holiness and sanctity. As Pope Francis says, “To be a saint is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.”
Blessings to all of my Jesuit and Ignatian friends on this day!