Pratica di Amar Gesù Cristo - San Alfonso Maria de Liguori
I really liked his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament which I had read in English. I found Pratica at the start of my Italian language learning journey. I could barely understand what was written. He writes in an old Italian from the 1700s, mixed with Neapolitan. The Scriptures are quoted in Latin. Literally, the book grew with me.
I printed out the book through the link http://www.sanpiodapietrelcina.org/pratica/index.htm . I then cut the book into its points. His prose follows clear sections, about a paragraph long each. I would read one or two points every two days. Once my Italian started to improve, I would read one point a day. Although he writes in an Old Italian and Neapolitan, the text is quite intelligible with Standard Italian. Later on, I could read a few points per day.
He takes 1 Corinthians 13 and illustrates how one loves Christ, how one pursues holiness and how one loves the neighbour. St. Alphonsus Maria di Liguori is very good at framing Christian teaching – What is this charity in the context of the entire sacred scriptures and the practice of the Church?
Another point that I admire is the practicality of his theological expositions. At the end of each chapter, there is an honest prayer. It is beautiful to see that theology is tied to practice.
“ Affetti e preghiere.
O Verbo eterno, voi avete spesi trentatre anni di sudori e stenti, avete dato il sangue e la vita per salvare gli uomini, in somma niente avete risparmiato per farvi da essi amare; e come poi si ritrovano uomini che ciò sanno e non v'amano? Oh Dio, che tra questi sconoscenti uno son io. Vedo il torto che vi ho fatto; Gesù mio, abbiate pietà di me. Io vi offerisco questo ingrato mio cuore: ingrato, ma pentito. Sì, che mi pento sovra ogni male, caro mio Redentore, d'avervi disprezzato. Mi pento e vi amo con tutta l'anima mia.
Anima mia, ama un Dio legato come reo per te, un Dio flagellato come schiavo per te, Un Dio fatto re di scherno per te, un Dio finalmente morto in croce da ribaldo per te.
Sì, mio Salvatore, mio Dio, io v'amo, io v'amo. Deh ricordatemi sempre quanto avete patito per me, acciocch'io non mi scordi più di amarvi.
Funi che legaste Gesù, stringetemi con Gesù; spine che coronaste Gesù, feritemi d'amore verso Gesù; chiodi che trafiggeste Gesù, inchiodatemi alla croce di Gesù, acciocch'io viva e muoia unito con Gesù.
O sangue di Gesù, inebbriatemi di santo amore. O morte di Gesù, fatemi morire ad ogni affetto di terra. Piedi trafitti del mio Signore, a voi m'abbraccio, liberatemi dall'inferno da me meritato.
Gesù mio, nell'inferno non ti potrei più amare, ma io ti voglio sempre amare. Amato mio Salvatore, salvami, stringimi con te, e non permettere ch'io t'abbia più da perdere.
O rifugio de' peccatori, Maria, e madre del mio Salvatore, aiutate un peccatore che vuole amare Dio, ed a voi si raccomanda; soccorretemi per l'amore che portate a Gesù Cristo.” (S. Alfonso M. De Liguori, http://www.sanpiodapietrelcina.org/pratica/capitolo1.htm )
“AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS
Eternal Word! divine Jesus! you have spent thirty-three years in labours and sufferings, you have given your blood and your life, in order to save all men ; in a word, you have left no means untried to make yourself loved by them ; how can it be possible that there are men who know this, and who do not love you? Yet there are such ingrates, and I am one of the number. I am sorry for it, O my Jesus! take pity on me, and receive my heart as a reparation for the injuries, which I have offered you. I present it to you, O my God ! it has been ungrateful, but it is now repentant. Yes, above all other things, I am sorry for having despised you. I repent of it, and I love you with my whole soul.
O my soul ! love a God, who is bound like a criminal — a God, who is scourged, who is derided and fastened on the cross for your salvation.
Yes, my Saviour, and my God, I love you, and I wish to love you for ever. Recall to my mind every day all that you have suffered for me, that I may never forget to love you.
O sacred cords, which bound Jesus, my Saviour, unite me closely to Jesus ; thorns which crowned his adorable head, wound me with love for my Jesus ; venerable nails, which pierced Jesus, fasten me to the cross, that I may live and die united to Jesus ;
Precious blood of Jesus, inebriate me with divine love ; death of Jesus, make me die to every earthly affection. Feet of my Saviour, I embrace you; deliver me from hell, which I have deserved.
In hell I could not love you any more, O my sweet Jesus ! and yet I wish to love you for ever. My amiable Re- deemer, save me unite me closely to you, and do not permit me to be ever separated from you.
And you, O Mary ! refuge of sinners, mother of my Saviour, assist a sinner, who desires to love his God, and who recommends himself to your intercession. I conjure you by the love which you have for Jesus to assist me” (https://archive.org/details/TheLoveOfOurLordJesus/page/n21/mode/2up)