The Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Fr Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R., wrote to the Redemptorist Family, in Brazil on occasion of the 300th anniversary of finding the image of Our Lady Aparecida.
Here is the letter:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. (Lk 1,46-48)
Dear Confreres of Brazil,
Greetings from New Jersey!
I would like to greet you on the jubilee of the 300th Anniversary of the appearance of the honourable image of Our Lady of Aparecida. United in Christ, let us thank the Father, who with his Spirit gave the Brazilian people such a special patron. With filial spirit, we raise our acknowledgement and thanksgiving for the 300 years of blessing of the Lord on Brazil.
My commitments to the 3rd phase of the XXV General Chapter of the Congregation will not allow me to be personally on these days of feast. However, I want you to know that I am in communion with all the Confreres in Brazil, it is impossible to deny the importance of the devotion to Our Lady of Aparecida in the history and mission of Redemptorist Missionaries in the country.
So, at this moment of joy, we thank the Lord who has entrusted to our Congregation the grace and honour to be known as the missionaries of Madonna of Aparecida. We know that since 1894 many of our Confreres have been dedicated to promoting Marian devotion throughout Brazil; so many priests and brothers who spread to people the love that the Virgin of Aparecida nourishes. I remember with sentiments the figure of the Servant of God Fr. Vítor Coelho de Almeida, who was certainly the apostle of Aparecida. I do not forget the confreres who are so diligently working at the National Shrine and various interconnected media, the traveling mission teams and other fronts that promote devotion to the Madonna among the people of God. Our work is still associated with many laity, men and women of faith and goodwill, who help to welcome and evangelize devotees of the Mother of Aparecida, especially in the Shrine. To all, I want to express my congratulations and desire to persevere in the service of love.
I would like to encourage you to remain firm in the mission with confidence in the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Aparecida. She came to us through the small sign of the image found in Paraiba River. She wanted to meet with the little ones, the poor, with the slaves and marginalized so that the Brazilian people could meet Jesus our Redeemer. The Virgin Mary promotes the encounter with Christ, because she is the missionary disciple who par excellence teaches the way of the true sequel to Jesus. Encouraged by her example and mediation, we are aware that our mission is to share the “encounter with Christ, witness and proclaim that from person to person, community for community and the Church to all the boundaries of the world “(Aparecida Document 145).
It is necessary, Confreres, that our evangelizing mission to offer people the opportunity for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, as Mother of Aparecida teaches us, because everything in her refers to and leads to him. It is, therefore, necessary that the process of personal conversion and a complete change of our lives can give witness that abundant redemption is happening in our lives.
In addition, meeting with the Mother of Aparecida is the prophecy of God for all of us, for the Lord is a turning point in our human relationships, as she says in her song: ” He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble state; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”(Lk 1,52-53). As true children of St. Alphonsus and great devotees of Mary, never forget that the “essential task of evangelization, that includes the option for the poor, the integral human development, and genuine Christian liberation” (DA 146).
Finally, I ask you, before the throne of the glorious Queen of Brazil, to pray for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, so that all Redemptorist Missionaries, strive to be faithful “Helpers, Companions and Ministers of Jesus Christ in the Great Work of Redemption” ( C. 2). And from where am in these days, I pray for you: “Hail to your image, O great Queen, Mother of the Redeemer, Mother of God and mine. Hail, Mary, Madonna of Aparecida!”
Happy feast to at all! Live the Lady of Aparecida!
Your brother in the Redeemer,
Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R.