Witness: Maria Celeste Crostarosa – follow the voice you hear in your heart!
s. Małgorzata – Sister Maria Celeste left us nine rules inspired by Jesus. She heard them “inside,” and one day, after Holy Communion, the Redeemer wanted to reveal to her the idea of creating a new institute (Redemptoristine Sisters) that he desired in the Church.
Chastity is the third of these rules. It is based above all on unity and mutual love between the sisters; because in our spirituality it all comes down to love. We must be a living memory of Jesus, a memory in the Eucharistic sense. We must make Christ alive in our lives as we love one another. All other things, all rules are contained in Jesus. This is what Maria Celeste Crostarosa said: “Our rule is one, that is Christ.”
Chastity begins with the words of the Gospel, just like any other rule: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Already here you can see that the virtue of chastity comes from a spiritual reality. It is experienced as my personal contact with Jesus. It is not just a question of asceticism to guard our senses – it has a spiritual value first of all. A beautiful image of eagles can be cited here: people who live in chastity will be like eagles, enamoured, who look at the sun without squinting, generous with the power of love and love affection.
Each of us is such an eagle, not only conventuals, but all people in the world. We must be in love with Jesus, because he wants to be loved. If we love Him, all other things will be in their place.
Generous are those who look to the sun, they are so strong because they love and do not close their eyes out of fear; they keep their eyes on Jesus.
Our foundress says: “These are the sons of light, who do not dwell in darkness, but look into the bright mirror of God’s perfection with a righteous gaze.” We must be sons and daughters of the light – this is another point. We must aim high, like eagles, not low. We must have the courage to aim high and live in the light, not in the dark.
s. Grażyna – Welcome everyone to Foggia, to the Church of the Holy Savior.
Let’s introduce ourselves. We are Redemptoristine nuns. Here in the church are the mortal remains of our founder, Blessed Maria Celesta Crostarosa, who was beatified on June 18, 2016.
I would like to tell you a little bit about this blessed one who is the only saint of Foggia. She was born on October 31, 1696 in Naples. She was a contemporary of Saint Alphonsus and one who inspired him to found the Congregation of Redemptorist. Her life went on like the lives of others: she was a happy, cheerful girl. She also went through a crisis of adolescence because – like all other girls – she was interested in fashion … But at one point she noticed somewhere in her heart that she didn’t feel fulfilled, she didn’t feel so pure and fully realized. She had remorse, that conscience that always calls us to chastity. She made a general confession, after which she offered herself to God, taking a vow of chastity. Thus, she gave herself entirely to Jesus Christ. It is not only sexual chastity, but most of all a chastity of heart that attracted her to Jesus and made her fall in love with the Redeemer and could do anything for him. From childhood, she began to repent. Jesus rewarded her because she saw Him carrying the Blessed Sacrament – she did not see a priest, but Jesus – and so it was at other times as well.
Since then, she has become a great mystic. She had inspiration in her heart. At some point, she wanted to give Jesus everything, she wanted to give everything of herself. She has taken a certain path of her life and devotion. First she became a Carmelite nun. Then, when the monastery had to close, she looked for another place. In this pilgrimage, however, she was always guided by Christ, because she always sought his will. Eventually, she ended up in Scala, where there was a group of women who wanted to be visitandines. They were not “real” visitandines because they did not yet have their constitutions. In the meantime, our foundress received the revelation of the rule in 1725. At first, all the sisters were very passionate. From visitandines they became Redemptoristines. They sewed new habits, these red tunics with a blue cloak (the cloak and habit that Maria Celeste saw during the vision, she received from Mary). The sisters began to live very happily, but as it was also a human work, problems arose (including the jealousy of the other sisters) that eventually forced Maria Celeste to leave Scala. She set out in search of a place where she could carry out what Jesus had written in her heart and what he had asked her to do. Eventually she ended up here, in Foggia (after several other stages), where she was finally able to implement a plan in accordance with God’s will. In her heart she heard the words of the Savior: “Go to Foggia, I want you THERE.” This was where she really did what Jesus wanted her to do. Everything she had as mystic and founder served to create our Order of Redemptoristine Sisters who we pray for the whole world.
Her spirituality is the words that can help every Christian, not just us (nuns) – they are very universal. Maria Celeste was very open as a woman of her time. She came to Foggia in 1738; she died in 1755 and was immediately called the holy abbess – that’s what people said about her. Many centuries passed until she became blessed (hopefully soon a saint). She left us a teaching, a clue, a path on which (if someone wants to become a saint – and we are all called to it) we must follow this voice that is in our heart, follow God’s will to recognize Jesus and fall in love with Him . We make three vows: chastity, poverty and obedience, because they always show Jesus who is poor, chaste and obedient. We want to love Him and this is what we wish for you, whether you are a father, mother of a family, a religious sister or a layman. The only important thing is to be in love with Jesus and thus become fully happy, fully realized, and able to do great things and bear a beautiful witness about Jesus, who is the Redeemer of all.
God bless you! Know that we are here to pray for you.
Authors: s. Grażyna Raszkiewicz OSsR, s. Małgorzata Szajowska OSsR
Translation: Stanisław Stańczyk CSsR