Receive, with a fraternal greeting, the best desires in the love of the Mother of Perpetual Help and the presence of our Ukrainian Martyrs.
The General Secretariat for Formation expresses his support to many activities realized in the Year of the Redemptorist Missionary Vocation. We express also our satisfaction for the letter of Fr. General Brehl in the Feast of Perpetual Help.
In this occasion we attach the third article prepared by P. José Ulysses Da Silva with the title The profile of the Redemptorist today. The author communicates to us an updated vision of our identity. Redacted 2 years ago, it raises many topics that are proposed as ecclesial Teaching by the Pope Francis.
The article presents an organic vision of our life and mission as individuals, communities and Conferences. The article is useful for the prayer and for sharing as "workshop".
This article is the third one of this vocational year after the one by Brendan Kelly, To preach the Gospel ever anew in the Spirit of St. Alphonsus, of February 2nd and of the one by Ronnald McAinsh, The theme of the General Chapter XXIV and the Formation, published last Easter.
The articles have been published in the official languages of the Congregation. If for any reason you have not received the previous articles are available on request.
the stamp of legitimacy of our true missionary profile and serve as the point of reference in any restructuring initiative.
We know well the struggle of St. Alphonsus to procure officially the kind of missioner he wanted, that is, those who would live according to his original purpose. Today we are well aware of this purpose through documents such as Ristretto Alfonsiano and Supplex Libellus. Yet, the same St. Alphonsus felt betrayed by some confreres in the Chapter of 1764 in reviving the "falcoian" tradition and dispensing with the Rule approved by Pope Benedict XIV in 1749. Thank God, this original purpose has been recovered and integrated into our present Constitutions and Statutes, and which has been reaffirmed by every General Chapter.
St. Alphonsus has left us in his many works, in addition to the Rule, characteristics of a true Redemptorist. It is true that our founder speaks of Redemptorists who lived in a particular time and within the culture of southern Italy. However, there are some characteristics that seem more relevant today than ever.
In addition to all the virtues of a strong spiritual life, for St. Alphonsus an essential trait of the Redemptorist was his total dedication to the missions and to those pastorally abandoned. Historically, the initial invitation of St. Alphonsus to be part of his group did not come from concern with personal salvation or sanctification. His companions had to take a lifelong commitment to being an itinerant missioner for the poor and abandoned. The vow of perseverance reminds us precisely of this fidelity to the mission: the Redemptorist was expected to be free and always available. The clarity of this vision for Redemptorists was to permeate the life of the missionary group.
The freedom and availability for the missionary life demanded an explicit and conscious detachment from certain situations that could compromise it. In his "warnings in relation to a religious vocation" (Ascetic Works, vol. IV, p. 396-412, Torino 1847), St. Alphonsus emphasizes both for the Redemptorists and for all applicants to the consecrated life, the importance detachment from comfort, from relatives, from self-importance and from one's will.
- Detachment from comfort leads us to take the vow of poverty, accepting whatever difficulties we are confronted with in order to undertake our mission. Being a missioner is to be happy and contented and not being disturbed even if it at times we may lack basic necessities.
- Detachment from family and relatives frees the missioner from the constraints of affection which might prevent him from undertaking a mission away from his family.
- The detachment from the self-importance means a radical renunciation of ambition, both social and ecclesiastical, and any benefits they may bring. We can leave everything behind, says St. Alphonsus, but if we remain attached to the self-importance we would always be
However, the text of a new "rule" will not necessarily result in the renewal of everything and everyone!. There's a whole history to overcome and a whole new story to create. As in the past, history is made by people and characters that embody the rule in their lives. We need new 'Clement Hofbauers', 'Gerard Majellas', 'John Neumanns', 'Peter Donders' to provide a new profile of the Redemptorist Missioner. And there are, such as our Ukrainian martyrs and many others, many of them unknown.
The new Constitutions gave us an inspiring profile of the Redemptorist Missioner, which we repeat with pride: "Strong in faith, rejoicing in hope, burning with charity, on fire with zeal, in humility of heart and persevering in prayer, Redemptorists as apostolic men and genuine disciples of St. Alphonsus follow Christ the Redeemer with hearts full of joy; denying themselves and always ready to undertake what is demanding, they share in the mystery of Christ and proclaim it in Gospel simplicity of life and language, that they may bring to people plentiful redemption."(C. 20). At the same time, we acknowledge with humility that we are still far from fully living this wonderful image.
In addition to this description, the new Constitutions emphasize other essential traits of Redemptorist life: to live and work always in the apostolic community; to dedicate their lives to the mission of Christ the Redeemer through religious vows; to be formed primarily to be a missioner; to have forms of government that ensure adequate structures for the mission. This is the "invisible habit" that identifies a Redemptorist Missioner. Without doubt, it is more difficult to "weave" this new "habit," because each of us must be involved in doing it.
be victims of our own ambitions and this is most damaging. In following Jesus, the first condition is deny oneself and not give undue attention to one's merits, social image, career, etc.. It is clear that he who bears the insults and humiliations of those who are ambitious will always benefit in his search for humility. For St. Alphonsus, for those who desire esteem, " it is better they never enter [the Congregation], and if they are already members, better they leave."
- And detachment from one's will enable the missioner to live and work in community . Here's the detachment that defeats the culture of individualism in all its emotional, communal and pastoral dimensions. It is the vow of obedience that demands this detachment and " this is the most necessary thing of all ." Sacrificing one's will is a "self-giving of everything to Jesus Christ," it is to make "a donation of the heart." The world cannot understand " what is a life of obedience in community," and even if we are not very effective, "he who does everything for obedience can be certain that in he gives pleasure to God." Without doubt, to live like this is to be prepared to sacrifice one's own desires or ideas. One must learn how to come to terms with the cost of such sacrifice. The community and the mission must always take priority, even in matters such as personal taste in prayer and study, says St. Alphonsus. And he repeats with St. Mary Magdalene de ' Pazzi "that all that you undertake in obedience is prayer you pray."
These detachments are not an end in themselves. They are conditions that enable us to be truly missionary in the service of the poor and the abandoned and to live and act in a missionary community. They provide the background from which the Spirit can sculpt the profile of the genuine Redemptorist.
2 . The Redemptorists, explicitly and prophetically proclaiming the liberation of the Gospel to the poor and allowing themselves to be evangelized by the poor.
The XX General Chapter of 1985 deepened the theme of the previous sexennium, in the sense of proposing that our explicit and prophetic proclamation of the Gospel results in the full liberation of the poor. At the same time, one has to relate to the poor not only as recipients of evangelization, but also as protagonists of evangelization themselves, that is, they evangelize us, because their very existence is a reminder of our personal and communal conversion, particularly with regard to poverty. During this sexennium, the General Government sent out various Communicanda to the Congregation: Communicanda 4: " Evangelizare pauperibus et al pauperibus evangelizari," ( 03/30/1986 ), on Evangelization: Communicanda 10: "St. Alphonsus, Missionary to the poor" - reflections for the bicentenary of the death of our founder ( 07/01/1987 ): Communicanda 11: "The Redemptorist Apostolic Community, itself a prophetic and liberating proclamation of the Gospel" ( 25/12/1988 ), a reflection on the consequences of the sexennial theme in our community life.
The sexennial theme certainly enhanced the profile of the Redemptorist setting before us the challenge to be a missioner with the courage to be a prophet, denouncing everything that is against the Gospel and proclaiming a liberation or redemption that is not only spiritual, but integral, that is, a liberation that responds to the sins of social injustice in society. At the same time, the Redemptorist missioner does not come as a savior of the poor, but is placed next to them to walk together in the dynamics of evangelizing and being evangelized. The very existence of the poor must condition our pastoral choices, the content of our message, our community life, the kind of formation we offer and our religious consecration.
1. The Redemptorist: An Explicit Proclaimer of the Gospel
The XIX General Chapter of 1979, in addition to preparing the final text of the Constitutions and Statutes, proposed as the theme of the sexennium: "The explicit proclamation of the Gospel" as a criterion for revising and refocusing the pastoral priorities of each unit. This stimulated the entire Congregation to examine the validity of existing works and its openness to new missions.
The theme of the sexennium makes clear an important characteristic of the Redemptorist profile: the commitment to the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, using all possible forms of communication. "Implicit" proclamation is only valid while waiting for the opportune time to make it explicit.
3. The Redemptorist Missioner and the apostolic community
The XXI General Chapter of 1991 focuses on the communal dimension of our Apostolic Life. The evangelization undertaken by the Redemptorists will always be community-centered. The proclamation of the Gospel must be an expression of community life and a Redemptorist will always be in mission on behalf of his community, with the purpose of creating or renewing community life and the community of the Church. To live well this fundamental dimension of Redemptorist life, the Chapter endorsed a community life that reflects an inculturated evangelization as well as our Redemptorist spirituality. In short, to carry out the explicit and prophetic proclamation of the liberating Gospel, there are three basic essentials: Community, the inculturation of the Gospel and our Redemptorist Spirituality. The theme of this Chapter inspired Communicanda 1: "Vitality and Essential Growth in our Apostolic Life" ( 08.01.1992), which explored the theme of the sexennium; Communicanda 2: "Unity in Diversity," (14 / 1/1994), highlighted that it is our missionary dynamism that provides the point of unity in the diversity and pluralism of the Congregation throughout the world; Communicanda 3: "To Read the Signs of the Times" ( 08/09/1994 ), presented various statistics of the Congregation that were considered issues that required urgent responses; Communicanda 4: "Collaboration Between The Redemptorist Community and The Laity," ( 09/08/1995 ), provided guidellines for characterizing the shape of the Redemptorist Lay missioner.
The theme of the sexennium emphasized the Community dimension of our life as an essential part of the profile of the Redemptorist. It is in itself a force of Evangelization. However, it is not a closed community life, 'ad intra', but is focused on a commitment to an inculturated evangelization and nourished by its own spirituality, which is profoundly missionary. The Redemptorists should see fraternal daily life as a testimony or witness to the experience of the evangelical life which they want to offer to everyone. Therefore they should be available to 'incarnate' themselves in any culture where they want to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. In this mission, it is necessary to feed the mystical dimension by identifying himself with the Redeemer who provides the raison d'être of our zest for life and our missionary availability.
4. The Redemptorist Missioner and the mystique of Plentiful Redemption
The XXII General Chapter of 1997 turned its attention to the issues raised in previous Chapters and felt the need to reflect more intensely on the mystical dimension of the apostolic life of the Redemptorist. Without a sense of the mystical there can be no motivation for perseverance and dedication in the life of the missioner. We can offer beautiful themes and speak eloquently about our missionary openness to the world, but without a personal and communal spiritual life full of vitality, nothing will happen, nothing will stand and nothing will endure. "Spirituality is at the same time the origin and goal of the mission," says the final document , and adds: " Any missionary activity that is not born from a deep commitment to Jesus is doomed to fail " (N. 5-6). Our Spirituality depends
depends on a deep and personal relationship with the person of Jesus , our Redeemer, and radiates in the explicit and prophetic proclamation of the gospel that liberates. Therefore, the Redemptorist is never just an agent promoting the Church, but a Christian who shares with joy and dynamism his personal and communal experience of plentiful redemption. Missionary activity, community life , opening and sharing our charism with the lay, everything must begin from our Spirituality if we are to be pastorally effective. The Communicanda which followed elaborated more on the sexennial theme: Communicanda 1, "Spirituality - Our Most Important Challenge" (25/02/1998), reminded us that we must always be ready to respond to anyone who asks us to account for the hope that is in our hearts " (N. 12-26 , 1PD 3.15) Communicanda 2, "I am Ruined if I do not Preach the Gospel" [1 Cor9:16] (14/01/2000), reminded us that our spirituality is intrinsically missionary, precisely because it is a spirituality of plentiful redemption for all; Communicanda 4, "Of One Heart and One Mind" [Acts 4:32] (31/3/2002), insisted on a commitment to solidarity in all dimensions of Redemptorist life.
This Chapter insisted that the profile of the Redemptorist is designed from the inside out, that is, the hallmarks of a genuine Redemptorist are to be found in his heart, in the values of his spirit, in his understanding of the God of Jesus,of life, of the world, and of our mission. His faith stands out as a loving union with Jesus the Redeemer, his awareness of his own need for redemption, his daily need of the mercy of God the Father and the love of the Redeemer in his life. Therefore, his missionary dedication is not just a commitment but rather a full response to the experience of this great love of the Redeemer. It is this spirituality that makes Redemptorists free and available and so determines the success or otherwise of their mission. In other words, there is something deeply profound that supports their missionary motivation and readiness for various pastoral challenges.
5. The Redemptorist, a Missioner who gives his life for the plentiful Redemption
TOWARDS AN INTERNATIONAL PROFILE
THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF RESTRUCTURING
THE CONGREGATION ORGANIZED IN FIVE CONFERENCES
The Chapter presents us the challenge of an integral restructuring of the Congregation as a new missionary journey, undertaken in hope and which starts from the spiritual profile of the Redemptorist, that is, a renewed heart All this will involve re-organizing the structures of the Congregation.
Restructuring, then, ii based on a spirit of hope and conversion and should should result in a new solidarity and a new missionary availability, both of individual confreres and of the Units. And the goal of this restructuring is the formation of a new Redemptorist culture, with a vision that goes beyond the boundaries of our units and our local commitments. In reality, it is a challenge to build a globalized mission.
Because Restructuring is not a momentary adventure, but rather an on-going process, the Chapter proposed seven basic principles which should guide all our decisions and, perhaps, help to characterize the profile of the Redemptorist in this new context. From these seven principles we can draw a sketch of our missionary profile:
The Redemptorist is for Mission:
- Here is the absolute essential condition to become a Redemptorist - from the promotion of vocations to perpetual profession and as a principle that guides him throughout life.
The Redemptorist, because he is essentially missionary, must awaken in his Apostolic Life a new readiness for the mission:
- This is a question of availability to the Congregation as a whole and not only to his unit. Religious profession has its own particular characteristics for the Redemptorist, because he devotes himself forever to live an "Apostolic Life," which incorporates all dimensions of his being and his actions directed towards the Mission.
The Redemptorist, because he is essentially missionary, is called to accompany the most abandoned, especially the poor. To achieve this objective he must engage in the restructuring process within the unit and Conferences, and even beyond the boundaries of the unit and Conferences:
- You cannot be a missioner and remain static. It is a missionary condition incorporates both personal mobility and mobility in terms of the apostolate. Following the poor, in practice, will entail a radical new departure, without fear of losing what has been built-up in the past both in terms of personal and institutional security.
The Redemptorist, because he is essentially missionary, will be open to the possibility of Solidarity in Mission, which includes the ability to optimize human resources (confreres and lay people) and finance:
- The willingness to share resources will avoid situations of fragility in many initiatives that are authentically missionary.
The Redemptorist, because he is essentially missionary, is open to the association between units, always in search of a common goal:
- Membership of one unit will never close the door to other Units. The urgency of mission must over-ride local or national identity.
These principles led the Chapter to take the decision to offer a wider space for Redemptorist life and missionary activity, organizing the Congregation in five Conferences. Each Conference is a new level of authority in the Congregation to facilitate implementing the decisions of their respective Assemblies as well as enabling the confreres from the different units to form new missionary communities that will respond to the changing pastoral needs of our world.
This decision brings about a profound change in the mentality of Redemptorists of the past 50 years, particularly the members of the many provinces born in this period, which were formed almost exclusively within a unit and identified only with its pastoral needs . The missioner with a horizon beyond his unit was seen as an exception and new initiatives, oftentimes precarious, were undertaken with a view to bringing about progress in the provinces. From now on, from the very beginning of formation, the candidates will be made aware of the fact they are missioners of the Conference and not just of a particular unit.
Conferences definitely will affect the profile of the Redemptorist of the future. It presents a new frame, much broader and more engaging, which will require an openness to experience cultures other than one's own and to work towards building both interprovincial and international communities. The new generation of Redemptorists will give precedence to religious consecration and mission as a reason for living and working together over the diversity of culture, nationalism, local churches and provinces. At the same time, the willingness to learn about other cultures and other languages should become part of the missionary spirit of the Redemptorists.
Conferences will undoubtedly broaden the horizons of the units, but care should be taken that the Conferences do not run the risk of also closing in on themselves. In the light of this, the Chapter introduces the concept of the "Network", which calls for co-responsibility and a partnership between the Conferences in the face of urgent missionary challenges such as migration, Sanctuaries, youth, social justice, etc.. and, in particular, the Conference of Africa and Madagascar.
Certainly, the creation of the Conference offers a new profile of the Congregation itself, which is described well by the Chapter:
In the past, Units have done courageous work, in some cases through bi?lateral or multi?lateral arrangements with other Units, in consultation with the General Council. However, the pastoral urgencies of our time demand a structure that embraces a broader vision and facilitates wider missionary discernment and decision?making.
A Conference can provide an opportunity for a major re?view of the life and work of Redemptorists within its boundaries. It is a forum for pastoral discernment in a way that is different from the discernment by a Unit alone or among a few Units. It is a forum where local needs can be taken seriously, but seen in a larger context.
Within a Conference, the challenge of missionary vitality goes beyond immediate national boundaries. This will help us overcome provincialism and broaden our appreciation of the call to evangelize in the world today.
A Conference is better able to give security to new apostolic initiatives. A Conference will also be better able to give a sense of security to fragile Units. (In the past, such security often came from powerful mother Provinces.)
As a structure, a Conference provides greater appreciation for the need to preserve and develop the various liturgical rites within the Congregation.
In terms of economic resources, a Conference could have systems and processes that would allow for greater equity and solidarity, and more effective discernment of the needs of the mission.
A Conference helps discern better the possibilities and priorities of, the initiatives for and the invitations to mission.
A Conference provides a wider horizon for the identity of the next generation of Redemptorists.
A Conference helps provide direction, vision and policy for initial and ongoing formation.
The establishment of and support for international and interprovincial communities is primarily the responsibility of a Conference.
A Conference assists the General Government in its governance of the Congregation as a whole. (Epilogue - Final Document, XXIV General Chapter)
A Profile of the Redemptorist confrere shaped by this new vision
1. The 'detachment' ("distacco") as seen by St, Alphonsus it is still valid and current for a new profile of the Redemptorist?
2. The themes proposed by the General Chapters 1979, 1985 and 1991, 1997 and 2003 have had an impact on the profile of the current generations of Redemptorists? What has enriched us and what have we missed so far?
3. What are the conditions for the promotion of vocation and the basic guidelines for the initial training that should be common to all Units and Conferences so that our candidates can assimilate the new profile of the Redemptorist?
WITH "RENEWED HOPE, RENEWED HEARTS AND RENEWED STRUCTURES FOR MISSION" WE CAN TRANSFORM CONSTITUTION 20 INTO A BEAUTIFUL PRAYER:
JESUS, OUR BLESSED REDEEMER,
HELP US TO BE STRONG IN FAITH, JOYFUL IN HOPE, BURNING WITH CHARITY,
ON FIRE WITH ZEAL, AND HUMBLE OF HEART WHILE PERSEVERING IN PRAYER.
GRANT US TO BE APOSTOLIC MEN AND TRUE SONS OF ST. ALPHONSUS, ALONG
WITH JOY TO YOU, OUR SAVIOR.
ALLOW US TO BE PART OF YOUR MYSTERY, ANNOUNCING IT WITH GOSPEL
SIMPLICITY OF LIFE AND SPEECH.
FINALLY, HELP US TO DENY OURSELVES AND ALWAYS BE READY TO FACE
BRAVELY ANY CHALLENGE IN BRINGING TO YOUR PEOPLE THE ABUNDANCE OF REDEMPTION.
At the origins of our missionary family, what characterized us as Redemptorists was first and foremost an experience of personal and community life centered around a single "purpose:" to live and work as missioners for the abandoned and the poor, primarily through the preaching of missions. This is clearly expressed in the early texts of our rule.
It is important to keep in mind the memory of those who sketched this initial profile of the Redemptorist Missioner: Gennaro Maria Sarnelli, Cesare Sportelli, Francis Xavier Rossi, Giovanni Mazzini, Andrea Villani, Benigno Jordan, Paul Cafaro, Vito Curzio, Gennaro Rendina, Joachim and Francis Gaudiello Tartaglione. Certainly, as part of this founding group we can also add Gerard Majella and Clement Mary Hofbauer. They will always remind us of the
THE PROFILE IN THE LIGHT OF THE NEW CONSTITUTIONS
By mandate of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), we had the Special General Chapter of 1967-1969. The five main Constitutions of the Council had a direct impact on the work of the Chapter and the subsequent texts of the Constitutions and Statutes: ' Lumen Gentium ' on the Church , ' Dei Verbum ' , on Divine Revelation , ' Gaudium et Spes ' , on the Church in the world today, and 'Sacrossanctum Concilium ' on the Sacred Liturgy . Our present Constitutions and Statutes were approved definitively on February 2, 1982 on the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation. The Constitutions restore as the sole purpose of the Redemptorists in the Church: "to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ by preaching the word of God to the poor, as he already said of himself : - evangelizare pauperibus misit me." Our journey of sanctification depends, therefore, on our missionary involvement with these two subjects: Jesus the Redeemer and the abandoned poor.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A NEW PROFILE
The project of the new Constitutions and Statutes requires a process of cultural renewal at different levels - the local, the provincial and the continental (conferential), which takes place over time and involves several generations. As a result, recent General Chapters have tried to urge and guide the Congregation on this path of renewal that has been offered to us by God and will enable us to strengthen our identity as Redemptorists.
The new millennium opened with a strong call to a New Evangelization of our society. Developments in the area of media and communication, along with migration, have begun to change significantly our cultural identity, even in the religious dimension. Traditional institutions have lost credibility and are no longer as attractive as they were in the past. We get the impression that the western world will become increasingly a meeting point of many different peoples and cultures, that leaves almost no space for its centuries-old traditions and cultures. And countries that have not yet experienced this influx of people brought about by migration have experienced social fragmentation, which affects traditional family and social values. In short, in today's world pluralism is inevitable, which results in acceptance or radical opposition, confusion and indifference, hopes and fears. How do we undertake our mission of explicit and prophetically proclaiming, the Gospel of liberation in this new global context? Who and what is the Redemptorist Missioner in the face of this reality?
The XXIV General Chapter of 2009, aware of these challenges, launched a new appeal with the theme: "Proclaiming the Gospel ever anew (St. Clement) - with renewed hope, renewed hearts, renewed structures for mission." Drawing on the example and the words of St. Clement, the Chapter asked confreres to proclaim the Gospel as something new and beautiful, that is able to surprise and captivate. But how?
The principles of restructuring assure the continuity of our fundamental identity and mission as Redemptorists in the Church and in the world. At the same time, they call for new realities and structures that would give fresh impetus to that mission and identity.
This is a possible profile of a confrere in a restructured Congregation.
This confrere would participate in a novitiate program of various Units, usually belonging to the same Conference. He would interact with confreres from other countries, cultures, and maybe even languages.
During his initial formation he would learn about the charism of the Congregation and the special gifts and apostolates of his own Unit. He would understand from our his?tory that constant renewal and restructuring have been vital for the continuity and continuation of our mission.
When he makes his vows, his commitment will be to the whole Congregation and not simply to a particular Unit. This commitment will be given practical expression in the Unit and the Conference to which he belongs. He will need to have a wider grasp of the changing circumstances, human realities and apostolic priorities not only of his Unit but of the entire Conference to which his Unit belongs. He will, for example, have to learn about the phenomenon of migrants within the geographic area of his Conference. He will, to give another example, be able to participate in the ministry of Redemptorist shrines within his Conference, a ministry growing in importance within the modern phenomenon of popular religious devotion.
Above all, he will know that he belongs to and willingly participates in the mission of a world?wide Congregation that takes seriously the challenge of being alert to the signs of the times, and making vital apostolic decisions that respond ever anew to our call to mission.
HERE IS THE DESIGN OF THE NEW (INVISIBLE) "HABIT" THAT WILL IDENTIFY THE REDEMPTORIST AS AN AUTHENTIC HEIR OF ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI. WE ARE CONFIDENT THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL SKETCH ON OUR HEARTS THIS NEW PROFILE AND THAT OUR MOTHER OF PERPETUAL HELP WILL HELP US WEAVE THIS NEW "HABIT," SO THAT SHE WILL HAVE THE JOY OF SEEING HER CHILDREN AS MISSIONERS WHO ENDEAVOUR "TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL EVER ANEW" AND PROCLAIM ITS GLORY TO ALL PEOPLES WHO ARE STILL LOOKING FOR THE PLENTIFUL REDEMPTION OF HER SON, OUR BLESSED REDEEMER.
A PROFILE THAT NEEDS TO BE REDEFINED
We must recognize that we, the Redemptorists, are in a process of restructuring. Since the Second Vatican Council, which led us to the development of the new Constitutions and Statutes, we have been on a journey of conversion, because our Vita Apostolica demands that we respond to what the Spirit asks of our missionary family at this time. This renewal requires a recognition or "owning" of our origins and, at the same time, a willingness to meet new challenges in a creative way.
Within this new context, how do we go about redefining the profile of the Redemptorist Missioner of today and of the future?
- First, the process of restructuring brings us back to the origins of our Congregation, because it asks us to engage in a "re-founding" in the sense of returning to the sources. Beginning with our origins will enable us to discern and to direct our steps in the direction originally set out for us by St. Alphonsus. Through our researchers, we now have the tools to make this trip back in time, to know the dream of St. Alphonsus and contemplate the life he envisaged for our first missionary community.
- However, redefining of the Redemptorist of today will also be dependent on the Second Vatican Council. We believe that the Holy Spirit, who's actions sparked the Council and who later inspired our new Constitutions and Statutes, invites us at this time to examine the efforts of renewal that we have been undergoing for more than 30 years through the various General Chapters and the many developing missionary initiatives
- And now, at this time, we try to put together a synthesis of these past decades that launches us into the future as we are called to "proclaim the Gospel ever anew, with renewed hope, renewed hearts and renewed structures for Mission." The restructuring process is a project that involves all the dimensions of our apostolic life and should lead us to create a new culture that is both Redemptorist and missionary. This "call" is now placed before us. Now, together, we journey towards a single goal!
We believe that our origins, the memory and activities of recent decades and the challenges of the future will provide us with the tools to enable us to draw a new profile of the Redemptorist of our times.
there is something different, a lifestyle and a relationship, in short, a charisma, which covers not just the body, but the very soul itself . Often, it is the people who discern and describe our current profile . Let's see if we can put in words this profile.
A PROFILE - "A MAN OF THE RULE"
The General Chapter of 1764 revives, unfortunately, the falcoian dualism, that is, the two ends of the Institute: first is the sanctification of its members as religious and then apostolic work. This situation will continue until the renewal brought about by the Second Vatican Council and undoubtedly has had a profound influence on the profile of the Redemptorists in the past. Both the mentality of a great formator, such as P. Passerat, and the long governance of his disciple P. Nicolas Mauron, determined the profile of the true or genuine Redemptorist as a man of regular observance . The ultimate criterion of belonging to the Congregation would be the scrupulous observance of the written Rule, to the point of being able to say: "The Christian will be judged by the Gospel, we Redemptorists will be judged by the Constitutions." Although faithful to the missionary tradition of St. Alphonsus, for about two centuries, the
In 2003, the XXIII General Chapter, reflecting on previous Chapters and in an effort at producing a synthesis of the journey already begun, provides an entry for the new sexennium which is at the same time an invitation to confreres, the challenge of "giving one's life for plentiful Redemption "
The willingness and freedom to give one's life comes from the immense joy of being with Jesus as part of a missionary community, of being sent to preach the Gospel to the most abandoned (N. 3-4). And this is also a consequence of religious profession, an act that defines our missionary life.
This theme for the sexennium also required a restructuring of the Congregation, that would bring about greater solidarity between us and direct our apostolic dynamism in a globalized world. Such a restructuring would always for the good of the mission. Like the disciples of Emmaus, the experience of being with the Lord compels us to set out again immediately, without waiting for the next day.
The General Government prepared two Communicanda on this theme: Communicanda 1: "Called to give our lives for plentiful redemption" (8/4/2004) and Communicanda 2: "Redemption" (4/6/2006), which brought together the dimensions of a spirituality centered on Jesus the Redeemer and the need for a thorough restructuring.
In this profile of the Redemptorist, religious consecration is defined as a communal dedication to Christ the Redeemer. Since the goal is to "follow the example of our Savior Jesus," then the idea of giving one's life for plentiful Redemption is an essential component of that dedication. Being a Redemptorist means that one's life cannot be spared, but rather it is offered with generosity and joy. It is the way of continuing the life and mission of the Redeemer, who loved us first, and who in every Eucharist renews the gift of his life for us. Therefore, this theme leads us to live the deeper reality of the Eucharist, as a communion of life and mission with the Lord.
When I was a young seminarian it was very easy to describe the profile of a Redemptorist - a beautiful wraparound habit, usually black, which was completed with a broad cincture. A white collar distinguished the priests from the brothers. A full fifteen decade rosary hung from the cincture, and bobbed in time with the steps of the missioner. Here was a genuine Redemptorist, very different from a Franciscan, a Dominican, a Salesian, etc! It was an attractive profile, which allowed us dream of the day when we could wear that beautiful habit.
However, times have changed. How do we identify the profile of a Redemptorist today, dressed, more often than not, in civilian clothes? Is there an "inner and invisible habit" to identify a Redemptorist in our day ? Surely there is! Maybe the colors and the lines are not as visible at first sight. Yet, behind every Redemptorist, there
the Redemptorists were affected by the culture of the Rule. It's really a profile of 'a person of the Rule' . This period also saw the rapid expansion of the Congregation in all continents, and the Constitutions of 1764, reconfirmed in the Chapter of 1855, offered the Redemptorists worldwide a uniform culture and identity.