So much has happened here in our monastery since my return from Ireland on June 6 that the three week sojourn there seems, on one hand, a distant dream. But on the other, the faces met, the experiences shared, the warmth lavished upon me are as close to me now as they were in that brief time.
I was invited to Dublin to present some talks regarding the mystical inspiration of our foundress, Venerable Maria Celeste Crostarosa and how her spirituality is reflected in our current Constitution and Statues, also called 'The Rule'. But I also know that Sr. Gabrielle is very eager to promote unity in our international Order of autonomous monasteries. One way to do that is to have experience Redemptoristine life in other monasteries of the Order and form relationships with the sisters who live in those houses.
Although our Church, especially at the parish level, struggles to provide good adult education, almost thirty years ago I experienced a great blessing in a series of presentations in my parish entitled "Introduction to Scripture Scholarship". The gifted presenter, a sister in the Congregation of Religious of Jesus and Mary, enlightened us with all of the information we needed in order to begin serious study of scripture - historical background of the period, literary genres in the Bible, surrounding culture, problems of authorship, difficulties of translation from ancient languages, influence of recent archaeological discoveries, and comparison of various modern translations.
As I presented my material material in Dublin I came to think of the effort as "An Inroduction to the Study of the Mystical Inspiration of Maria Celeste." Much of what I had to say was not new to the sisters but it was newly arranged, contained new twists and vocabulary and applied some modern psychological insights. We talked about the nature of mysticism, the time honored mystical tradition in our Church and how Maria Celeste stands firmly in this tradition. We spoke of the social, cultural and historical milieu of Naples in the first half of the 18th century. We compared translations of Maria Celeste's many written works and saw, once again, the challenge of the work of translation. And we took a good look at Maria Celeste's mystical inspiration as it delineates the process of surrender to God, devotion to constant awareness of Jesus Chirst, and the gradual transformation into the very being of Jesus to which it all may lead. We express our charism as that of becoming "a living memory of Jesus Christ". Finally, energized by being 'dipped' into all things Celestian, we examined our Constitutions and Stautes and found the mystical inspiration of our foundress reaching out to us on every page.
To do research and to teach was a personal blessing. To meet these wonderful sisters was pure joy. To experience Redemptorsistine life with them; to pray and sing, rejoice and intercede with them; was renewing and fortifying.
And yes, there was Ireland. I know now why Ireland wins hearts and keeps them.