PILGRIMAGE OF THE CAPITULARS OF THE XXVI GENERAL CHAPTER TO PAGANI
Dear Fr Serafino Fiore, in your name I greet the Redemptorist community,
Fr Michael Brehl,
Coordinators of Conference,
Mayor of Pagani,
And the People of God present in this celebration.
- Dear confreres, with joy we find ourselves in this holy place, where the body of our Father and Founder, St. Alphonsus, lies. Coming here on pilgrimage means going back to our origins! Not to a distant and historical past, but to what it represents for our history, our spirituality and for the Church. Let us return to the source of the charism, this “beauty that is so ancient and yet so new” (cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, book X, chap. 27), which is renewed in the heart of each Redemptorist. He reminds us that we are a Congregation founded on a deep experience of God.
- Alphonsus did not found the Congregation to satisfy the personal whim of being inscribed in the history of the founders. He had the audacity, in his simplicity, to enter the heart of God, grasping his movements and compassion for the little ones – “I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people” (cf. Ex 3). Alphonsus entered the hearts of the poor, from where he learnt compassion for the little ones. “He had compassion on them because they were distressed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd” (cf. Mt 9,36). He heard their screams, their pain. Thus, the Congregation was born from Alphonsus’ audacious experience of detachment (distacco), which allowed him entering the heart of God and the depth of the suffering heart of the poor. The Congregation, in itself, with the power of the Spirit, lives kenosis, detachment, exodus, a project of integral salvation, a source of spiritual freshness. And if it is still alive today, after almost 300 years, it is because it is not a merely human project. It is a work of the Spirit.
- Coming here, in this very place, on the threshold of the conclusion of our XXVI General Chapter, means to recall our minds the memories of redemption present in our Redemptorist history. It is to remember these memories, narrated in every page of the life of each confrere, written with the ink of his consecration, and with the dedication to this missionary work. It means to remember that the poor for us are not a sociological category, but a theological place in which the incarnation of the Word is manifested in the today of our history, and that we must welcome them with our open hearts, as Jesus on the cross.
- Dear superiors and capitulars, today you are artisans of the memories of redemption present in every confrere, with his weaknesses, his joys, his sorrows and his desire to do better. “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels and does not derive from us” (cf. 2Cor 4,7).
- Alphonsus was a tireless man. It is said that he wasted no time… he was not, however, a superman, that he did not sleep, that he did not have his personal time; he was deeply human, a good Samaritan. He wasted no time in order to deal with God’s things and with his people. Therefore, an accommodated Redemptorist betrays the memory of the founder. The Redemptorist is by nature restless, because in him the Spirit of the Lord pushes him to detachment.
- I would like to ask the confreres who are going through difficult moments in their lives, with vocational crises, moments of desolation: do not carry your cross alone! Seek spiritual and psychological help, dialogue with your legitimate superiors. It is time to heal the wounded world that exists in our communities to be healthy and to take care of God’s people.
- Remember the tirelessness of Saint Alphonsus, return to your first love (cf. Rev 2,4). Remember that day when the Lord himself – who called Alphonsus – looked you in the eye and made your heart burn, and made you leave everything, to go and spend your days for the copiosa apud eum redemptio (cf. Mk 10, 21; Lk 24,32).
- Today, in this special place, I would like to thank Fr. Michael Brehl, for the gift he has made of his life, not only in these last thirteen years of service as animator of the Congregation, but for all his works since he became a Redemptorist. The experiences of these years will help him a lot in the new tasks that will be entrusted to him. Thanks so much for everything! I am also grateful for the work done by the previous consultors: Brother Jeffrey Rolle, Nicolas Ayouba, Sebastian Ani Dato, Alberto Eseverri and Pedro Lopez. May God reward them for everything, and heartfelt thanks for the good you have done and will continue to do to the Congregation.
- Finally, at the foot of St. Alphonsus, I want to entrust the Congregation to him. Surely he is very happy, because today in every confrere, in every place where the Congregation is present there is his face and a source of the copiosa apud eum redemptio. May the Mother of Perpetual Help protect us and the Congregation from all dangers and evils. Amen.
P. Rogério Gomes, SG/C.Ss.R
Feast of the Guardian Angels
Pagani, 2nd October 2022