" He who desires to obey the divine call must firmly resolve to follow it, and that as soon as possible. "
St. Alphonsus Liguori
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  • vocations7

Dear Confreres and Friends,

All good wishes for the new year of 2010.

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown'. And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God, walked gladly into the night. He led me towards the hill and the breaking of the day in the lone east. So my heart be still. What does our human life need to know, if God knows. In all the difficult strife of things, both high and low, God hides his intention".

These words by the American poet Minnie Haskins, will be familiar to many of you, used by the late King George VI in his Christmas message at the beginning of World War II. As we begin this year, they might also cause us to stop and reflect on our own provincial and personal situations.

I, for one, believe that we are being invited into a special time of living in faith in the Province. We have several sick and elderly confreres, we have few in formation, the future in terms of our Houses and our co-operation with the conference of Europe is very unclear. And yet the invitation is to walk into this night of faith and to remain in peace. I honestly believe that if we do not succumb to discouragement or despair, then the Lord will lead the Redemptorists of this Province and our Region, to new possibilities. And so I invite each confrere to reflect on the words above, and to deepen their relationship with the Lord as individuals and as communities. It seems that there has never been a more challenging time for us as Redemptorists here in the Province. Society almost taunts us with its lack of interest in religion or the Christian life. And yet I am convinced that underneath, there is a deep hunger for meaning, for something authentic, for God.

How we engage in this dynamic, I have no clear idea. However, that is the challenge of being a Redemptorist today. And I am confident that we can find some ways of entering into deeper dialogue, and explore further ways of communicating the Good News. But we need to remain rooted in faith and secure in the authenticity of our Redemptorist vocation. So I hope we can move through this year with a quiet confidence in the mission of our Province and our Congregation.

This letter will reach you unsigned. I am on Caldey Island preaching to the Cistercian community and at present can find no internet. When I do find it, I will send this letter to Sr. Maria in Kinnoull who will see to its distribution. Sadly, Sr. Maria will be leaving Kinnoull next month. Her Congregation has asked her to take over the animation of their Heritage Centre in Dublin. Maria will be missed in Kinnoull for her ministry of hospitality, and also for the work she did in the Provincial Office. We all wish her well in her new ministry.

A few days ago, I attended the funeral of Fr. Stephen Wetherall. Fr. Steve was a faithful servant of the Province and in particular of our apostolate of the pen at Chawton. I was happy to have visited him only two days before his death. I will ask Fr. Dickinson to send round an expanded copy of his homily as a memorial to Fr. Steve. May he rest in peace.

Our postulants continue to study at Hope University and the reports I have received from Fr. Ralph are encouraging. Please continue to pray for, and actively seek out, good vocations.

I was in Zimbabwe over the Christmas period and the situation is a little more stable there. Fr. William Guri will be letting you know about the first Regional Convocation which will take place in March.

Birthdays for February are Fr Philip Jones 4th, Fr Desmond Keegan 14th and Fr Michael Henesy, 24th.

The dreadful situation in Haiti continues to occupy the minds of many people. I know that nearly all the communities have had collections for Haiti at the request of Fr. General. These may be sent to Maurice O'Mahony, our Provincial Bursar who will see that they are forwarded. I have been in email contact with Fr. Mario Bois Provincial of St. Anne de Beaupré, and also Fr. Adonai Jean-Juste, the Regional Superior of the Unit in Port au Prince. He tells me that they are still sleeping outside, but that they are grateful for our prayers, concern and offerings. The latest news from Vietnam is also discouraging, with the Government actively continuing and intensifying its persecution of our Congregation. Again Fr. General asks our prayers for that ongoing difficult situation.

This year we expect the Holy Father to visit Britain to beatify John Henry Newman. In preparation for this I have been reading the volume on Neman from the Great Spiritual Classics series, and I can recommend it as an accessible and educational way of getting to know Newman's writing at a deeper level. I conclude with an extract from one of the sermons, Parochial and Plain, which might be a springboard for some of us for the coming year. The style is unmistakably in the genre of St. Alphonsus, and I have left it in the original Victorian English.

"Oh that we could take that simple view of things, as to feel that the one thing which lies before us is to please God! What gain is it to please the world, to please the great, even to please those whom we love, compared with this? What gain is it to be applauded, admired, courted, followed, compared with this one aim, of not being disobedient to a heavenly vision? What can this world offer comparable with that insight into spiritual things, that keen faith, that heavenly peace, that high sanctity, that everlasting righteousness, that hope of glory, which they have who in sincerity love and follow our Lord Jesus Christ?

Let us beg and pray Him day by day to reveal Himself to our souls more fully; to quicken our senses; to give us sight and hearing, taste and touch of the world to come; so to work within us that we may sincerely say, "Thou shall guide me with Thy counsel, and after that receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of Thee: my flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."

With best wishes,

In Christ the Redeemer,

Ronald J. McAinsh, C.Ss.R

Provincial Superior