Hello to everyone! I am happy that we can meet at this moment, and I welcome you despite the virtual distance that separates us. Maybe someday we will have the opportunity to meet in person. It is an honour for me to talk about this beautiful aspect of our redemptorist life, the vow and oath of perseverance. Firstly, let’s try to understand our history. It’s 1740, July 21st, seven years since the foundation of the Congregation. The first years of our existence were not very easy. The Congregation suffered due to the losses, both personal and physical ones since our way of life was very poor.
However, in the heart of our founder, Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, was the assurance of the divine inspiration of our charism. This charism was inspired by God, to go to the most abandoned of the society, but also the abandoned in the Church. In saint Alphonsus’ heart was the conviction that this is precisely what the word that God was telling him. So, on July 21st, 1740, after a passionate sermon and exhortation carried out by saint Alphonsus about taking some options that result from a close union with God in this time and eternity, a small group of confreres (apart from saint Alphonsus there were four priests and four brothers) decided to profess the vow and oath of perseverance, taking it in the hands of the Bishop Falcoia. I think that at this moment we are living, in this time of postmodernity, unfortunately, one of today’s present aspects is a certain immediacy. We live in this time in which things must come out and happen according to the desires of our will. It seems to me that we have forgotten to taste history, and also to suffer due to disappointments and frustrations in history, but also there’s a lack of knowledge that we are inside a process of growing. Behind the dictionaries of spirituality, we can say that we have forgotten about this divine reality that leads and shapes history in its goodness. We have forgotten that to reach resurrection, and Christ had to go through the cross, through passion. In the redemptorist spirituality, professing the vow and oath of perseverance means learning to create history together with God’s understanding and also assimilating these frustrations, as well as the beautiful and challenging things, the sorrows and joys. Knowing that in the end, there is always God, who waits for us with his love and goodness, it is Him who leads our history. That’s why this postmodern immediacy, in which everything must occur in our time, makes me feel that it creates spoiled and broken people. People who do not mature, who do not grow. Understanding the meaning of the vow and oath of perseverance means being able to learn from history, which is led by God. Knowing that the Lord inspired our charism, and even if the situations nowadays are difficult for us, this is also for us an opportunity to learn something. Even if at this moment vocations are decreasing and at the same time, we ask ourselves about our charism, this is precisely a movement of the Holy Spirit: we understand and learn even from bad things. Our present time teaches us how to be winners at no cost and without any form. God teaches us perseverance and trust for the path that we assume together with Him. I think that this is an essential meaning: entrusting our life to the Lord, hoping that He leads our history. Thank you for your attention. I hope that someday, God willing, we will meet in person.
Autor: Dalbem Maikel Pablo CSsR
Translation: Carlos Alfonso Diego Gutiérrez CSsR