Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Liguorian Series Posting 0: Introduction

Hello Everyone,

Throughout my faith journey, I have been blessed to have encountered the Order of the Redemptorists (C.Ss.R), via St. Patrick's Catholic Church in the downtown of my Archdiocese of Toronto.

The Redemptorists are an order of priests in the Church who serve (arch)diocesan parishes. They were founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori on November 9, 1732 in Scala, Italy (near Amalfi). Today in Canada, their main parish here in Ontario is the downtown Toronto parish of St. Patrick`s Catholic Church. Their order, to quote Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., who oversees the Archdiocese of Ottawa, "... whose spirituality focuses on the Crib, the Cross and the Sacrament. Redemptorists follow Christ in his incarnation, death and resurrection and believe that he is always with them. They hold the belief that there is always a graced encounter with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament ...." (http://archbishopterry.blogspot.ca/2015/07/installation-of-fr-peter-tuan-bui-cssr.html).
The parish of St. Patrick's serves as the North Amercian Shrine for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and carries on the charisms and missions of St. Alphonsus in numerous ways, some of which I have participated in directly (e.g. High School Gr. 10 Social Justice Retreats, which contain a prayer walk with some outreach to the poor. I`ve done my own things on my own volition as well outside of St. Pat`s.)

This parish has, and continues, to administer to my spiritual needs via its Sacraments. Might I also add that in this way, via sacraments, that the order continues to serve out the charisms of its founder, St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. When St. Alphonsus lived in this life, it was a bit of a merciless and brutal time, socially in the Church in Italy, especially in his native region of Italy. The heresy of Jansenism was widespread, with many a priest applying its wrong tenets to the sacraments. In a nutshell, to paraphrase the current pastor of St. Pat`s from a youth Theology on Tap I went to a couple of years ago: "You gotta pray and beg for mercy ... but you aren't worthy of his mercy and grace you sinners. His sacraments only go to the worthy." So people were being deprived of the sacraments, such as Communion and worse, even Reconciliation/Penance!

Liguori thought to himself, SATIS! Enough! He emphasized reception of the sacraments, and not barring them from people (save of course those who were obvious excommunicates as Church law dictates,) and had a real devotion to the spiritual salvation of all souls. When it comes to Confession, many parishes and pastors and associates, fail in regards to supplying the Church's mercy via reconciliation, only giving parishioners just a 1/2 hour before Saturday vigil Mass every weekend, and once that 1/2 hour is up, bolt out of the confessional. Not the Redemptorists!!! Even today, the Redemptorists do not deprive the Body of the Church from sacraments. At St. Patrick's, as an example of the Redemptorist charisms, they have confession before most Masses, even during the week! Oh how many times I have been in need of Christ's forgiveness in my struggles, and with my busy work schedule, the lunch hour confession has been my saving restoration of Sanctifying Grace!

I must also credit this parish and its order, in a different way, because it is here with this Church whereby St. Patrick's Gregorian Choir resides, whereby I was first introduced to the Latin Mass. In addition, I have found a good and receptive priest in the aforementioned pastor, as well as his associates, with the pastor even bearing a connection to my  family via my Italian heritage in my family's hometown. This priest has also been a blessing to other members of my family on my Italian side.

With the combination of these influences, I began to love, and to delve deeper, into WHAT is the charism of the Redemptorists? Who is this phenom that is St. Alphonsus? What consistutes the central tenets and beliefs of the Redemptorists? While the website of the order has given me a starting place, and the New Catholic Encyclopedia provides quite a factual account of his time on Earth, I was hungering more for what spiritually constituted his works and charism. As I found out more information, I found out he had penned some prolific works in the Church, the most well known, deepest, and famous of his, being the Ascetical Works, books which covered a number of topics of the Faith.

Well ... I started to cough up some of my earnings to get these hard to find works. Yes, they are available online as pdf documents, but seriously, I feel these screens are burning out our brains and attention spans, even if the effect is reduced by special "gloss/glare" formatted e-readers. So I wanted actual books to read, and optimally stimulate my mind and my soul. However, these books aren't necessarily accessible by the general public! Perhaps if I was an alumnus of U of T, particularly aligned to St. Michael's College @ U of T (USMC, NOT my Alma mater, though the Basilians are somewhat connected to it ... even architecturally with those "yellow bricks" [inside nugget for those who went to my high school]), I'd have access to their Kelly library to read the works. But I didn't go to U of T. So what's a person like me to do who wants non-abridged, or botched (read: liberalized or modernized) translations of these works that are true to exactly what Liguori thought and said?

You buy the old school books or verified, faithful re-productions! For the most part I bought a number of the works from eBay, in the form of old paperbacks that was published by Liguiori Publications(TM) in the 80's, that certain catholic bookstores and missions purchased and distributed to people who ordered them. Another book I just happened to have at home, and I used an Ontario rare Catholic book seller in Combrere to buy another other book.

Currently I have volumes 1 - 12 and 16 which are as follows:
Volume I: Preparation for Death
Volume II: The Way of Salvation and Perfection.
Volume III: Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection.
Volume IV: The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ
Volume V: The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ (Great Lenten reading material, alongside Liguori's classic Way of the Cross!!!) 
Volume VI: The Holy Eucharist.
Volumes VII and VIII: The Glories of Mary 
Volume IX: Victories of the Martyrs
Volume X and XI : The True Spouse of Jesus Christ 
Volume XII: Dignity and Duties of the Priest (Selva)
Volume XVI: Sermons for Sundays (TAN Reprint)

I have henceforth decided, as a long term project, to discuss what Liguori is all about via his Ascetic Works and his great teachings of the Faith for all of us, using the editions I have. In addition, does what he teach correlate with post-Vatican II documents and teachings of the Church? This little side project, is not only to express my admiration for this great theologian and Saint of the Church who brought me to the Redemptorists, but also to provide additional content of merit to my Servimus Blog outside of the usual Latin Mass/Church Traditionalist politic items. I will add a tab to the top of this blog that will serve as a home page for links to the various postings that I create, like my altar serving ones I've done over the years.

I hope you will enjoy what is to come .... but don't expect too much all at once. I get weird ebbs and flows of inspiration/lack of motivation in my life and approaching the sacrament of Marriage next year, really takes a lot out of you and doesn't give you oodles of time to your self to be glued in front of a computer screen. Not to mention ... I like to have a life away from this screen at times, and that does include actually reading the books from front to back for the content for the posts. Regardless ... there is a treasure trove of wisdom and beautiful Faith to be unraveled From St. Liguori's works, points I hope will illuminate our Church, and the beauty, even in modern times, of the saint's order of the Redemptorists.

Pax Tibi Christi, Julian Barkin. 

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