Redemptorist Spirituality

 

Pray for His Plentiful Redemption

One of the great means of sanctification St Alphonsus proposed to his sons was the practice of what is known as The Twelve Monthly VirtuesSt Alphonsus realized that to be a saint is the whole purpose of our creation and redemption: to love the Lord with all our hearts and souls and minds, our neighbor as ourselves.

He realized, too, that it is precisely the virtues that make this holiness real, enfleshed, and relatively easy. The virtues are "habits" that, as a result of God's Grace at work and our own graced cooperation, by practice, by determination, by perserverance, give a solidity and consistency to our attitudes and actions.

St Alphonsus' vision of spirituality was deeply evangelical and missionary. The holiness of the Redemptorist was to glorify God and to be a means of effectively radiating Christ to others, especially the poorest and most abandoned. Without holiness of heart and life, preaching would be in vain. But holiness was not meant to be hoarded and isolated! It was meant to make Christ known and loved, and this holiness compelled Redemptorist to follow closely the path trod by the first apostles and missionaries of the apostolic Church.

Thus for each month and its specially emphasized virtue, the Redemptorist would also invoke the help of one of the twelve apostles during that monthly period. 

Here in a original and pyschologically profound approach the saint combines, so simply, the inner and the outer, the interior and the exterior, the heart and the pulpit, the vertical and horizontal, the love of God and love of others---a beautiful synthesis!

Here is a selection from the Rules and Constitutions of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer that many Redemptorists heard and read many times, given here as an introduction to the traditional practice of the Twelve Monthly Virtues:

"These twelve virtues are the foundation-stones on which chiefly they should build the edifice of their perfection; in  each of them they should strive with all their power to make progress under the patronage of the holy Apostles, one of whom they shall take as their special patron and advocate every month of the year, according to the order in which they are mentioned in the Canon of the Mass.

To the virtue of the month they shall direct the meditations they have to make in private, their particular examens, and the good resolutions they form. And that no one may forget it, on the last evening of the month, not excepting Thursday, the virtue to be practiced during the following month shall be announced from the reading-desk in the refectory; and on the first day of the month a short explanation of the same virtue shall be read at table."

 

The Twelve Monthly Virtues

From an article in Redemptorist Spirituality by Father Daniel Lowery

One of the main emphases in the spiritual direction of Saint Alphonsus might be labeled "growth through virtue". In his characteristic fashion, Saint Alphonsus proposed a practical plan that could help the ordinary person shape his conscious behavior according to the law of God. He recommended the practice of giving special attention by reading, reflection, prayer and in daily living, to a single virtue each month.

The important point, frequently emphasized by Saint Alphonsus, is that the Christian virtues are not theoretical constructs to be admired, but practical gifts to be used in living the Christian life.

There are Twelve Rules laid down concerning twelve most principal virtues of Christian life. In a special way, Redemptorists are to strive each month to advance in that virtue which has been assigned to that month, and for this purpose upon them they shall make their conferences, meditations, readings and resolutions. -- Primitive Redemptorist Rule

 

FAITH - JANUARY

Faith has many facets and definitions, but above all, it is our response to the revelation of God. In the words of Saint Alphonsus, "It is not enough to believe all that our faith teaches us, we must direct our lives in accordance with our faith."

During January, you might set aside time to enlarge your knowledge of God's revelation. This could include reading of the Scriptures and opening yourself in prayer to the Holy Spirit.

 

HOPE - FEBRUARY

Hope is centered on God. Through this virtue we confidently expect the fullness of glory, our eternal destiny, the face-to-face vision of God.

During February, focus on hope in your prayers, and make a conscious effort to let go of fears and worries that beset you, and place your trust in God.

 

LOVE Of GOD - MARCH

The centerpiece of the spirituality of Saint Alphonsus is "the love of God." For us, doing the will of our heavenly Father is our way of showing our love for God. This response to God's love must enter the nitty-gritty circumstances of our daily lives.

During March, ask yourself - What is the will of God for me today?

 

LOVE OF NEIGHBOR - APRIL

The teaching of Jesus about the great law of love includes not only love for God, but also, in an essential way, love for neighbor. Saint Alphonsus encouraged a spirit of peace, and urged us to reject every rash judgment, distrust and unfounded suspicion of our neighbor.

During April, focus on how much God loves us, and become conscious of your comments about others.

 

GOSPEL POVERTY - MAY

Jesus identified with the poor. Saint Alphonsus' writings reveal his conviction that a spirit of poverty demands detachment of the heart from material possessions and worldly power.

During May, "clean out your closets" and find ways to bring help or joy to someone.

 

CHASTITY - JUNE

This virtue is concerned not only with self-mastery but also with love and holiness. Saint Alphonsus refers to voluntary (avoidable) and proximate (situations that lead a person to sin).

During June, take time to reflect on the occasions of sin in your life and pray for the courage to avoid them.

 

OBEDIENCE - JULY

Obedience is a positive response not only to civil and ecclesiastical degrees but to the authority of God himself.

During July, adults who think of obedience as a child's virtue should reflect on the specific ways in which this virtue can be manifested in the many components of their lives: God, family, job, neighborhood, nation.

 

HUMILITY - AUGUST

Christian tradition teaches that one of the most important elements of humility is the ability to accept that we are creatures of God and that God is the source of our talents and gifts. Humility does not mean we deny our gifts and talents, but that we acknowledge they come from God.

During August, you might ask: Does my relationship with God as Creator and Giver of all gifts have a real impact on my behavior?

 

MORTIFICATION - SEPTEMBER

Mortification refers to our struggle against evil inclinations. Saint Alphonsus distinguished between external mortification (fasting, controlling one's tongue), and internal mortification (the discipline of the heart, overcoming aversions, resentments).

During September concentrate on the resentments or negative attachments in your life and pray for the grace to overcome them.

 

RECOLLECTION - OCTOBER

Recollection is a stimulus to the practice of all the virtues.

During October, seek new ways to develop the awareness of God's presence,

 

PRAYER - NOVEMBER

Prayer is the heart of the practical plan of spirituality presented by Saint Alphonsus. Without it, spiritual growth is impossible.

During November, try to make the Eucharist the center of your life, and set aside at least fifteen minutes each day for meditation, opening your mind and heart to God.

 

LOVE OF THE CROSS - DECEMBER

All people suffer in some way; the question is not whether we will suffer, but how. With love of the Cross, we experience the Spirit of Christ, bearing the cross with gentleness, cheerfulness and love.

During December, pray for the grace and courage to accept suffering.