A slight digression in the usual blog posting this week: This week’s Blog will be based on the Scriptures for today, the Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, one of the Patron Saints of our Congregation. He had a great love for the Redeemer and the poor, for which our Foundress was inspired to take his name when she became the first Sisters of the Holy Redeemer, Mother Alphonse Maria.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be the salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness! You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in garbage.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We are going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you on a hilltop, on a light-stand — shine! Keep open house, be generous with your lives. By opening to others, you’ll prompt people to open to God, this generous Father in heaven.”
(Mt 5:13-19, The Message by Eugene Petterson)
In the Lives of the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer . . .
On Friday, July 31st, during the vigil Mass of St. Alphonsus Liguori, we welcomed a new member into our Congregation as a Postulant. Her “Yes” to God, is salt and light to all of us. What follows is a reflection Petra wrote upon the Gospel reading above as she prepared to become a Postulant.
On New Year’s Eve last year, I celebrated midnight mass with a group of young people and religious sisters from around Europe, all of us connected in one way or another to Mother Alphonse Maria Eppinger, the foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer.
We started our celebration at a bonfire and then walked together to a local church, each of us holding a lit candle. It was a cold, snowy night and a strong wind pierced our jackets, blowing our candles out over and over again. So as we made our way up the hill, strangers and friends kept relighting each others candles, each of us sometimes needing a new fire and sometimes being the light-bearer for others.
As I held out my candle to be lit for perhaps the sixth of seventh time, it dawned on me: this is our faith, this is our church – people journeying together, rekindling fires for each other. As long as we do not give up on relighting the candles, there will always be light in the darkness.
The reading from Matthew’s Gospel today invites us to be the light in the world. In the English translation, we might be tempted to read a singular “you” into the sentence. But in other languages (like my native Czech), there can be no mistake: Jesus is not calling for solitary heroes to be “The Lamp.” Jesus is challenging us collectively, in plural, to be a “city” of light. Together.
It is, therefore, quite clear to me that the celebration of my “Postulancy mass” is a communal feast. As I have written earlier this week to a friend, this is “about the Sisters welcoming me closer into their life and mission, about the Church drawing me deeper into its mystery and tradition, and, most importantly, of course, it is all about communion with God!”
Let us use today to relight any candles that have gone out. Let us be generous and let our lives – individually and communally – point to our generous Lord and Redeemer, our Source of Light.
In Your Life . . .
Petra offers an invitation to you: Notice what candles need re-lighting in your life.
Remember times when have you been a candle-bearer for others. Recall occasions when others have helped you rekindle your light.
Blessings on your week!