" Have you ever seriously reflected what those words mean, a God to be made man, and to die for thee? "
St. Alphonsus Liguori
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Provincial's Letter July 2015...

provincialsletterhead

30th July, 2015

Dear Confreres and friends,

 

Thank you for your kind wishes and also for your reactions to my last letter. My recovery continues and I feel better. I am still having the wound dressed and will see the consultant surgeon on 18 August. However I am slowly getting back into some work.

 

Today Brs Mike and Royston fly to Toronto to begin their Novitiate year and I ask for prayers for them as they begin the adventure of these special twelve months.

 

Congratulations to Br Emerson Machepa on his First Profession in Zimbabwe on 18th July.

 

Brs Brian Manyenga and Kenneth Temba are in Poland for one month preparing for Final Vows. They will have an eight day retreat from Fr. Mulligan and I in August in Dundee.

 

I have received quite a few documents from the General Government and the Conference Coordinator about the Year of our Mother of Perpetual Help, the forthcoming General Chapter, the Conference Initiative for the Laity, the World Youth Day to be held in Warsaw, and the Conference meeting in Porto, Portugal in late September. There is also an interprovincial meeting with the OPCs of Dublin and Saint Clements in August in Dublin, as well us formation meetings in Marianella in September to which Frs. Corrigan, Reid and I will go. The Vicar Provincial and I will ensure that these documents reach the communities or the appropriate individuals.

As we approach the feast of Saint Alphonsus, I again commend all of us to his protection. I often try to discern what St. Alphonsus would say today about our life and mission in the Province. Certainly the invitation to be men who think with the Church and yet be highly sensitive to the needs of God's people would be a central theme. This is reflected well in our Constitutions as you know especially Constitutions 15, 16 and 17.

 

In particular, as we approach the Synod for the Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World, which I believe will be a pivotal moment in the Church's life, I ask myself how Redemptorists should respond? We live in a world which is highly individualistic and secular, and in which moral values tend to be very subjective. However we cannot write this world off. Indeed as "Apostles of Conversion" (Const. 11) we are invited to have a pastoral response to our brothers and sisters in society. What this response should be, and how it should be communicated, is I believe our greatest challenge.

 

I was sharing the other day there with Frs Gerry and Jim that one of the things I fear we as a Church have given over the years to the People of God is a keen sense of guilt. I am not sure we have given a good and credible sense of real sin; and I wonder if in discarding neurotic guilt (and of course some real guilt) many people are now in a spiritual limbo.

 

St. Alphonsus used to say that no conversion would be sustained by guilt. He stated that guilt could be used as a stag.e along the way to real conversion. However he added that any true conversion will only be sustained by love. I suspect that in discovering the meaning of true love in every sense, we have a key to a good and true pastoral practice. 

 

I think this concept will be key in the forthcoming Synod. The issues of admitting the divorced to Holy Communion and of same-sex marriage are real. They are not going to go away. However there are more fundamental questions for the sons of St. Alphonsus - and they really focuses on the statement of Saint Augustine, "Love and do what you will". The primacy of love and the place of ecclesiastical law in our lives need not be at odds. But there will also always be a place for individual pastoral practice. I recall what Pope Paul VI said to our General Chapter: "Remember in the confessional how elastic the law of God can be". (Spontaneous Address)

 

The danger for the Synod as we all know is polarisation from either the so called left or the so called right. I believe the truth will be found in an ongoing discernment of the meaning of love as being at the heart of the gospel message. The Instrumentum Laboris is an important document and I would recommend it for all confreres as a study document. You can download it from the Vatican site.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/documents/rc_synod_doc_20150623jnstrumentum-xiv-assembly_en.htmlum-xiv-assembly_en.html

 

I apologise for these slightly random reflections. They are personal. However, as we approach our Founder's feast and recall his decisive contribution in the field of moral theology in the Church I think that the feast invites each one of us to reflect on what this contribution means to us as Redemptorists in our challenging society of today.

 

Birthdays this month: 1st Frs B. Ahearn, J. McManus and M. Chandavengerwa, 3rd Fr T. Hunt, 9th Fr M. O'Mahony, 11th Fr I. Davies, 13th Fr A. Burns, 17th Fr K. Brady, 20th Br T. Tamai, 21st Fr R. McAinsh, 29th Fr J. Milcz.

 

In Christ the Redeemer,

Ronald J McAinsh, C.Ss.R.

Provincial Superior