Alphonsus loses; God wins!
It has been said that in the eight years he practiced law, he possessed a record of never having lost a case. That is, all except the one case which would change his life and the direction it had been taking. We now find our young lawyer in the year 1723, about to face his first defeat. There was a trial, centering around a lawsuit between a nobleman from Naples and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, being waged in the courts of law. We don’t know whether Alphonsus was representing the plaintiff or the defendant. We only know that Alphonsus began with his usual brilliant, cleverly prepared remarks to the court. Satisfied with the obvious results which would assuredly be forthcoming, the young Alphonsus confidently sat down, after he finished speaking. But his contentment was to be short-lived. Just as he was about to call his first witness, the opposing attorney coldly confronted him, insisting his arguments were ill placed, as Alphonsus had missed a section of the document, which completely negated his allegations and consequently jeopardized the success of his case. As this was so out of the ordinary, Alphonsus insisted on reading the document. Incredulously examining and reexamining the brief, and then, not satisfied, poring over it meticulously, over and over again, there was nothing left but to admit he had in fact missed that section and had consequently lost the case. He was desolate. All around him, in the courtroom, tried to console him, even the judge; but Alphonsus would have none of it. His greatest fear was that they might judge he had been purposely trying to deceive them. No amount of reassurances could dissuade him. He bolted out of the courtroom, crying out that he was finished with law and all its trappings.
He went to his room and refused to eat anything for three days. After his battle with himself (he thought), he realized that more than an attempt to humiliate him, this was an act by God to bring him to the road he was supposed to be traveling. Realizing he had journeyed to his eternal goal by the wide road, allowing the many deviations of the world he had chosen, to distract him and lure him from his Heavenly destination, he spent days upon days praying, seeking God’s Will in his life. There is no record of how long he prayed; we only know that on August the 28th, in the year 1723, our Alphonsus went to the Hospital for the Incurables, to visit the sick and dying. As he was making his rounds, suddenly he felt the room he was in, shake. Whereupon, he heard a voice call out to him, “Leave the world and give thyself to Me.” That he might not think this was his imagination, the voice repeated the command. His blood racing, his heart pounding, Alphonsus rushed out of the hospital and went over to the church of the Redemption of Captives (or as it also known: Our Lady of the Ransom). He knelt before the image of Our Lady and laid his sword at Her feet, swearing his lifetime allegiance. He then made a solemn resolution to enter the Religious Life, starting as a novice in the Fathers of the Oratory.
Alphonsus begins his walk toward Sainthood
His walk was not to be an easy one. His father was not too happy with his two ill-attempted tries at marrying Alphonsus to a suitable wife of a prestigious family, nor was he pleased with his son’s decision to leave his profession as a lawyer. His worst fears were realized! His father was furious with his decision to leave the world and enter Religious Life, especially as an Oratorian. After enduring two months of trials, finally triumph! – resignation on his father’s side and compromise on that of Alphonsus. His father gave his consent to his son pursuing a Religious Life as a priest, as long as it was not as an Oratorian; and Alphonsus agreed! The other hook was that Alphonsus agree to remain at home; and Alphonsus agreed!
Without fidelity to an Order already established, it freed Alphonsus to found an Order of his own, one day. On October 23rd., in the year 1723, Alphonsus was vested in the clothes of a cleric; and in September of the following year, he received the tonsure, soon after gaining admittance to a missionary secular priests organization, called the “Neopolitan Propaganda” where priests were not required to live a communal life in community. He was to receive minor orders in December of the year 1724, and joined the Subdiaconate in September of the following year, 1725. April the 6th, 1726, he was enrolled in the Diaconate, as a Deacon. On December 21 st of that same year, Alphonsus was ordained a priest – he was now thirty years old.