" And because all people have been redeemed by Jesus, Mary loves and favours all "
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CSsR Professions Aug 2016 - Fr Provincial's Homily

The Homily preached by Fr Provincial CSsR, Fr Ronald McAinsh

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For the last two weeks I have been working in Paris at a symposium with 68 Sisters who are working in Religious formation. The Congregation is in 66 countries rather like the Redemptorists who are present in 70 and are still attracting vocations, mainly in Africa, Asia and South America.

I think that what struck me most of all was that the challenges for those doing the training, Postulant Masters, Novice Masters and Junior Masters or as we call them Prefects of Students, were fairly common - although the manifestation of them in the West and in the East are quite different; and of course one has to take into the of consideration age differences. No longer do people join the legislation at 17, 18 or 19. 


And that poses a very fundamental question. Why do people join Religious Life? In the past it was very clear to identify someone who had joined a Religious Order by the work of the Congregation. We saw people as teachers, as nurses, as social workers, as parish priests, as cooks, as workers on the farm, as preachers or as missionaries in far off countries. 

But in a sense that was only the outward manifestation, the outward showing of what they were about.  Because at the heart of the Religious vocation is not a piece of work or a role. Religious life is not a job. It is a calling. Or as we commonly call it, a vocation. 

A Vocation is essentially about a relationship; and it is about a personal relationship with a human being - with God - who we know in Jesus Christ. And that is why these men, Mike and Royston are here today in Liverpool.

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After three or four years of discerning, of looking into the lives of other Redemptorists,  and above all of looking into the face of Jesus, they have decided today to make their public ‘yes’ to what they trust to be his call. 

I do not believe it is they who issued the call. I believe that it comes from God. And their role in all of this, is not passive. It is to make an active and profound ‘yes’ to God today and to live it in the years that lie head.

And you might be asking the question. ‘what will they do? ‘ And it's a good question. However in some ways I believe it is the wrong question. I believe a more accurate way of asking this would be: not, what will they do, but rather who will they be. 

And I think I can answer this in a general and also in a particular way. In a general way, they will be Redemptorists living a dedicated life at the heart of the Church. In particular they will be two men who every day deepen their heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus Christ. This is at the core of our Redemptorist life. As our founder of Saint Alphonsus says,

“The principal thing I recommend to you is the love of Jesus Christ. For this reason he has called us from all eternity to love him, and to invite other people also to love him. And therefore we should think of nothing else but of trying to do this”.

So you will notice that St. Alphonsus  isn't saying ‘come and be cosy with Jesus’. He is saying the opposite. Come, and because you are a friend of Jesus, you will do what he did, and reach out to others, especially those on the margins. 

That is Redemptorist life - living a life of union with God, and then making this relationship real and possible in the lives of others. Our Constitutions call us “Apostles of Conversion” because we had invited to offer a change of heart to people, to structures, to social situations, to living situations and to people, no matter in what condition or situation they find themselves. 


This is what our Redemptorist life is all about. 

And to ensure that they try at least in some measure to live at the cutting edge of life and of the Church, Mike and Royston will today take three vows.

The vow of chastity - promising that Christ will be the first love, and that from hearts full of love, they will allow access and exit from their own heart to others, especially those in need. Indeed the vow of chastity is a vow to form healthy adult relationships in our world.

They will take the vow of poverty which means that the individual exercise and control of finance is limited, and indeed they will try to live their lives as envisaged in the Acts of the Apostles where all things are held in common. And so our ideal is that we share not only financially, but spiritually and emotionally. Acquisitions become less important, and the quality relationships become more and more at the heart of our lives. This means being poor in spirit and emptying of hearts of our own selfish needs

Finally they will make a vow of obedience which means that they are at the service of the Redemptorist Congregation and will be ready to go where ever they are needed  - and indeed sent. We have already seen this in our younger men, both of them having lived in Canada for a year, Charles having lived in Columbia, Peter having lived in Zimbabwe. And if you look around the confreres here, you will see Redemptorists who have lived – have been sent - to work in many Redemptorist missionary situations in all parts of this country. In an age in which self definition and a return to the original sin of ‘I will not serve’ can exist, we try to go contrary to popular culture, be counter cultural and embrace the gospel value of being available where and when we are needed. 

Mike and Royston we have all made a similar journey to you. I say a similar journey, because no two people walk more than halfway down the same road towards God. For some of us it can be a very rocky path, at times frightening, at times exhilarating. But the goal is always the same. Itis union with Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Congratulations on making this journey. I thank those who have accompanied you over the years, and I pray that as you continue your journey through Redemptorist life, you will remember that although it can be a Way of the Cross, it is also a joyful journey with our Holy Redeemer.... a journey which leads to new and to fresh life. May our Mother of Perpetual Help accompany you and may St. Alphonsus and all the Redemptorist saints pray for you and encourage you.

 

To listen to the homily watch the video below