" How good God is ... ... with those who trust in Him and leave all for His sake. "
Blessed Peter Donders C.Ss.R
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Fr Provincial's Letter of May 2018...

provincialsletterhead

28th April 2018

Dear Confreres and friends,

On Monday we shall begin the Extraordinary Visitation here in Kinnoull and I know that many of you will actively participate in it, while others will participate through prayer from the various communities. We will be joined by eight confreres from Ireland, two from Lebanon, two from Saint Clement's and one from Slovakia as well as some of our associates. I hope that we shall be able to sensitively review the decisions of the General Chapter and continue to see a way forward for the Province and for the Conference of Europe. On Thursday evening we shall have Mass and a celebration for our Jubilarians.

As we prepare for the month of May, I again recall the Marian thrust of St. Alphonsus and his May devotions, as well as those of Cardinal Newman which can be quite helpful.

I am sure you are all aware that last month the Holy Father produced an Apostolic Exhortation on 'The call to holiness in today's world' named Gaudete et Exultate. Whilst I do not find it as exciting and groundbreaking as Evangelii Gaudium, it does challenge us to reflect not only on our baptismal call to live the life of Jesus, but the ongoing challenge of maintaining and deepening this relationship.

In No. 34 the Holy Father invites us "not to be afraid to set our sights high, to allow ourselves to be loved and liberated by God". And he concludes that, "in the words of Leon Sloy, when all is said and done, 'the only great tragedy in life is not to become a saint"'.

For us Redemptorists, this has a particular resonance, and no doubt everyone will recall the words of St. Alphonsus that the only reason we come to the Congregation is to become Saints. As I read this reiteration of Alphonsus in Pope Francis, I found myself reflecting on that beautiful passage from Graham Green's book, "The Power and the Glory", in which the priest in Mexico, who had succumb to mediocrity and alcohol, reflects on his life as he prepares to go to the firing squad. Perhaps I can quote it in full.

It was the morning of his death. He crouched on the floor with the empty brandy flask in his hand trying to remember an act of contrition "0 God I am sorry.... " He was confused. .. it was not the good death for which one always prayed. He caught sight of his own shadow on the cell wall.... What fool he had been to think that he was strong enough to stay when others had fled.

What an impossible fellow I am he thought. I have done nothing for anybody. I might just as well never have lived. Tears poured down his face. He was not at that moment afraid of damnation.... He only felt an immense disappointment because he had to go to God empty-handed, with nothing at all. It seemed to him at that moment that it would have been quite easy to have been saint. It would only have needed little self restraint and little courage.

He felt like someone who had missed happiness by seconds at an appointed place. He knew now that at the end there was only one thing that counted - to be saint".

I often reflect on Green's insight that we only need 'a little self restraint and little courage'. In the section of the Exhortation, "Going Against the Flow", Pope Francis reminds us that the words of Jesus clearly run counter to the way things are usually done in our world, and goes on to invite us to enter into the depths of our hearts to see where we find our security. (No. 65)

From the time we entered the Congregation, the ideal of being a saint was held before us, and now this Apostolic Exhortation invites us once again to a kind of a second summons at whatever stage we are at in our lives, to encounter Jesus in a new and a fresh way. And might I add that Pope Francis says that, "Holiness is not swimming about in mystic rapture.... it is learning to see Jesus in the face of those with whom he wished to be identified"; in other words, the most abandoned and the poor. (No.96).

So really this is Pope Francis' invitation to each one of us: to grow in love with God and with others, especially the marginalised. Simply put, this is holiness. I should add that the words 'second summons' are not in the Exhortation. They are mine; but I do believe they reflect the invitation the Holy Father in this document.

Please do remember in your prayers those in the Province at this time who are perhaps feeling marginalised because of age or heath issues. I was speaking to Barrie O'Toole today who has received a challenging diagnosis from his specialist, and I ask you to hold Barrie in your prayers. Tony Hunt continues to make progress, and we believe it is due to the intercession of Ven. Bernard Lubienski to whom the community made a novena for Tony's health issues. Michael Creech is out of hospital and is back on his feet, and several of the other confreres continue to deal with challenging health issues.

Redemptorist Publications held a very successful seminar in Kinnoull in which people engaged with Scottish Catholic Education investigated further outreach to schools.

In Clapham, the ministry continues. Fr. Caspar was disappointingly refused a Tier 2 Visa to minister there; but we have begun the appeal, so hopefully there will be a positive conclusion. Prayers please.

In Birmingham, Fr. Gabby continues to make progress, and missions and parish work are very much alive.

Bishop Eton community has had its share of heath challenges but continues to be truly apostolic. Fr. John Milcz will be in Christopher Grange for respite during the Visitation.

From Kinnoull missions have again taken place and we concluded a well attended guided retreat yesterday. A group of Associates is with us this weekend with Fr. Maurice.

This letter is already filling up and I do want to share with you the joy which Fr. Richard and I experienced when we participated in the Episcopal ordination of Bishop Raymond. You will know that Bishop Ralph also came to Zimbabwe for the event. It was a day of great celebration in the presence of around 8,000 of the faithful, the Episcopal Conference of Zimbabwe and confreres from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana. Bishop Raymond's brothers and sisters were able to be present, and since they came from Canada, England and the United States, it was the first time they had all been together for many, many years. Of course leading this rural diocese will be a challenge for Raymond; but as a Redemptorist Bishop, he knows he has the support of all the members of the Region, the Province and indeed the entire Congregation.

The day after the ordination we left for Trois Epis where there was a gathering of all the formators of Europe. Unfortunately Fr. Charlie was quite unwell and unable to attend. I gave three of the inputs and Richard presented the reality of our situation in the Province. It was a profitable and valuable meeting.

Today in Zimbabwe, Brother Benjamin celebrated 25 years of being in the Congregation. He and William Guri arrived around the same time, and William will celebrate at a later stage. I have just heard that Bishop Raymond, the local bishop of Masvingo and a great number of local clergy, Religious and laity were present in Chirumanzu this morning for a wonderful celebration. Many congratulations.

On Monday the EPC will meet in Kinnoull for our usual meeting. It is a very full agenda with some challenging decisions to be taken. We will convene again on Friday at the end of the meeting as indicated in the letter of invitation, in order to discuss our ongoing situation with the Visitors.

Birthdays: Frs D. McBride 7th, V. Bushu 8th, O. Madzonganyika 8th.

In Christ the Redeemer,

Ronald J. McAinsh, C.Ss.R.

Provincial Superior