Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pentecost - Foundational Feast of Redemptoristine Nuns

Double Feast for Our Institute

For nine days of retreat we have prepared for this great feast of the Church and our contemplative order. As contemplative nuns we have tried to open ourselves to the flowing winds, the rushing water, the flow of the Divine Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son into our souls. We have also prayed that by the gifts of the Holy Spirit we may live ever more faithfully and lovingly the inspired vision of our foundress, Maria Celeste Crostarosa. Today is the day on which, in 1731, the gifted inspiration which Jesus himself presented to her came to fruition.

At the request of her spiritual directors, Celeste, wrote her autobiography. Here is an excerpt from that work describing how her inspiration finally came to be.

From Chapters 37 and 38 of
The Autobiography

The nuns wanted him (their spiritual father, Bishop Falcoia) to come (to the Monastery in Scala) because of their spiritual needs, since they had been deprived of his help for so long a time, so they prayed to the Lord to hasten his arrival. But he wrote from Rome that he could not possibly come before the end of October or the beginning of November 1731… So he was going to send to Scala a servant of God called Alphonsus de Liguori, a priest and missionary from Naples, to give the spiritual exercises to the Monastery and be their extraordinary confessor, so all the nuns were at liberty to confess the things of their soul to him as if it was his own person.

So after the aforesaid spiritual Father wrote to Father Alphonsus, he immediately betook himself to Scala, and came to the Monastery. When he arrived, he had the Mother Superior and her companions called, and he told them that he was the one who had been sent by their spiritual Father, both to give the nuns their spiritual exercises and also as their extraordinary Confessor. But above all, he had been sent to their Monastery, because there was a deluded nun there (Maria Celeste Crostarosa), as was being said all over Naples; because, although the Lord had been pleased to give confirmation of the Work to six other nuns - He had so disposed things as to assist the nun who had received it, so as to be able to put it into effect at the proper time, seeing that the aforesaid was then still a novice when she received the revelation of the Work - but she alone had been declared deluded, just as the companion \and Superior/ of the spiritual Father had made known throughout the city of Naples. And so Father Alphonsus di Liguori had great fear through his zeal for the health of this soul.

He told the Superior he wanted the name of this deluded nun, as it was publicly known that she was there inside their Monastery. The Superior replied humbly that she was pleased that he would be directing the nuns in the true way of following Our Lord, and that all the nuns would cast themselves at his feet, to receive his advice as their spiritual Father had ordered.

Father Alphonsus was in no way satisfied with this vague reply and began to lay down the law to her about telling him what was the cause of all the things he had heard being said about this Monastery. So the Superior and her religious companions gave him a full account of everything that had happened, and how the demon had tried his best to prevent the aforesaid Work from being put into effect.

And when the said Father had heard it all, he replied all aflame with holy zeal that he would not be satisfied unless he first examined the aforesaid nun (Maria Celeste Crostarosa) who had received the Rules, and her six other companions to whom the Lord had afterwards confirmed His Work; and further, he wanted to examine all the nuns of the Community in the confessional, and hear what they all had to say: because either it was the work of the Lord and must not just be forgotten, or it was not the work of God and the aforesaid soul must be put back on the true road of solid perfection; and this is what happened.

The following day he sat in the confessional, and the first one he had called was the aforesaid nun who had received the new Rule, and he began his enquiry by telling her that he wanted her to shed clarity on her whole life: what God gave her as a child, and all the graces that she had received from God up to this point. So this is what the aforesaid nun did, telling him how the Lord called her to His service in a special way, when she was only about eleven years of age. When she made her First Communion, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her, and told her that He was washing her heart with His precious blood, and that he was choosing her for His spouse; and when He showed her the ugliness of sin, this vision caused her sorrow for all her sins and so great a contrition that she began weeping uncontrollably, and while she was there in the church hearing the Holy Mass, she let out a loud cry and said: “Oh how many sins have I committed!” without having any shame before the bystanders who looked at her and heard her. And by this grace the Lord called her to be His follower, and from then on new graces always kept coming; and God Himself led her in a special way. And she described to him all the graces she had received, and the course of her life until the time when the Work was made manifest and the new Rules received from the Lord, and all the fears and doubts that she had before she made it known, and the internal and external troubles she suffered up till this point.

And after this he dismissed the aforesaid nun, and he examined the six nuns who had received confirmation with lights of the Lord as evidence that the Work was His; then he examined the whole Community: including the previous Superior, who, now that she had been released from the office of Superior, no longer had any reason to oppose the Work of the Lord.

So Father Alphonsus swung right round and changed his opinion through the will of God, and began to say to all the nuns that the Work was of God, and was not the illusion that it had been judged; and with ardour and zeal he began to influence the whole Community to be disposed to implement in themselves the very great grace that God was giving them. And he gave a lecture to all those who had placed obstacles to it up till this time, causing them many pangs of conscience, because they had been the occasion of delaying the glory of the Lord.

At these words of his, the previous Superior replied and said that, since this was the will of God, she did not wish to hinder it, but that she would like to be the first to embrace it. So all the nuns, without even one of them creating obstacles, in total unity and with a holy joy seized each other in a mutual embrace, and rendered thanks to the Lord that, after so many troubles and wasted years, He had been pleased to make His Work clear, and put it into effect. And also the same Fr. Alphonsus was so fired by holy joy and zeal for the glory of the Lord, that he could not hold back his jubilation.

Father Alphonsus di Liguori went straight away to the local ordinary Bishop, called Mons. Nicholas Guerrieri, together with two of his missionary companions, one called Father Vincenzo Mannarini, and the other Father Giovanni Mazzini. The aforesaid Bishop heard him with pleasure, because he already knew everything that had previously happened in the Monastery, and he gave the aforesaid Father Alphonsus broad powers to do in the Monastery everything which he knew to be to the glory of God and the profit of its souls. And when the said Father returned from the Bishop he was very happy, then he arranged with the nuns to put the new Rules into effect at Pentecost in the following year. In the meantime, Father Alphonsus gave the spiritual exercises so that the nuns could prepare themselves for the observance of the new Rule, and to this effect he gave sermons on the life and virtues of our Lord Jesus Christ, and each one of the Sisters attempted to prepare herself for this feast.

No comments: