Driving up the hill to the Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua, NY this past weekend, I was reflecting on my month of working at St Mary's and what that has meant for me spiritually. One of the things I've been hearing a lot about since coming here is Christ's crucifixion gives us plentiful redemption! So when I went up to this retreat house for a symposium for the Redemptorist Order this was the focus of my heart. So I got to my room and sat down thinking I would be able to relax and take it easy for a while. God had other things planned as He usually does. So I went down to the chapel and was greeted by this French priest who was one of the most joyful people I have ever met. Was this the life of someone who had experienced plentiful redemption? This was my experience throughout the weekend. People were joyful and excited about this order of priests, this way of life. And I found myself getting more and more excited!
The order of the Redemportists was started by St Alphonsus Ligouri and is called the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, St Alphonsus is also a Doctor of the Church because of his influential thinking and practice of life. He had this call to aid the abandoned and the needy. Aren't we all abandoned and needy at some point or another in our lives? Don't we always need someone to look out for our needs? I know that sometimes I just NEED to fall back on my family or friends. I know that sometimes I feel alone. This is our world. Yes, we can focus on the actual poor and sick of this community, but we can only really serve when we can recognize that poorness and sickness in ourselves as well.
This past weekend I met a lot of wonderful people, doing great things in this world to further the mission that St Alphonsus lived by. It inspired me to go forth from that weekend and do the same! The Redemptorists take a 4th vow of Perseverance and I think that this is something that we can all learn from. There will be times that we will be spiritually dry and worn out by the battlefield that is this world. There will also be times when we see much fruit in our work...but what is most important is that no matter what we see, we can persevere through everything so that at the end of our lives we can look back and truly say that everything we did was "Ad majorem Dei gloriam"! (All for the greater glory of God!). This perseverance is what will sustain us when we want to give up. We must, as St Paul tells us, "pray at every opportunity" so that we can stand firm.
You know what they say...practice makes perfect!