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Papa Francis The First | His Holiness Papa Francisco

On measures taken to keep us listing slightly to starboard....

Today, 21st November, the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in the Temple, is the day chosen by us to grapple with the demands both of monastic observance and communication with the outside world. Since both are necessary.

Leave the world and give yourself to Me.

In monastic life we follow St. Alphonsus who as a young man was directly told by a voice from heaven: “Leave the world and give yourself to me.” This led him eventually to Ciorani where he and his early companions were described as “the solitaries of Ciorani.”

From young manhood until his death when over 90, 
whether as solitary, missionary or bishop
Alphonsus, our father, left the world 
and gave himself to Jesus.

The spiritual men who knew St Alphonsus and his companions, including his first biographer the Servant of God, Fr Antonio Tannoia, C.SS.R., considered those first Redemptorists to have lived their monastic life as did the early Desert Fathers in Nubia and the Thebaid. Fr Tannoia’s high praise for St Alphonsus is echoed without exception by other writers.
Repeatedly expressions are used such as:
“a hermitage, a lonely, solitary spot” (the Monastery at Ciorani) where “Nubia and the Thebaid never saw coenobites more given to contemplation than our hermits”
“the blessed hermitage” where the saint’s life “might be compared to that of the anchorites of the desert.”
Scala which was the cradle of the institute is variously described as:
“the desert”
“the hermitage so well adapted for recollection and prayer”
“difficult of access”
“remote”
“this desert”, where a “truly eremitical life began for all of them”
“the solitude of the anchorites of Egypt” where “we live in calm and silence far from the tumult of the world, hearing nothing of what is passing there”
“the new Thebaid”
“the solitude” where they lived “on the hill alone, like Jesus in the desert.”
The monastery of Iliceto: “the hermitage”
The monastery of Caposele:  “the hermitage”
The monastery at Villa degli Schiavi: “the hemitage.”

The cells of Papa Stronsay.
The early life of St Alphonsus and his companions is our beautiful heritage. 
In the monastery-island of Papa Stronsay we cherish this ideal.
In a far inferior degree we strive to pursue it.

All this is true. Also true is that our holy vocation calls us to the apostolate and the salvation of souls. St. Alphonsus was as on fire in his search for souls and he was at other times in search of solitude.

Venerable double vocation! 

Yes! To continual prayer in solitude, 
cut off from the world as a hermit. 
Yes too! 
To untiring mission to souls,
 in the midst of the world as an Apostle. 

These two directions, like identical twins, wrestle with each other. They always did. They still do. St Alphonsus in the early Constitutions of 1764 brought the two vocations into an almost perfect balance.

“Thar she blows!”
The Sailing Ship St Alphonsus, making for port 
but slightly listing to starboard.
She is in search of big fish. She’s … a whaler! 
-but rightly ballasted to starboard.

St Alphonsus, as it were, constructed his sons a fishing boat for souls, but he ballasted it so that it always had a slight list to its starboard, the side of solitude; under the gaze of the Star of the Sea, the Morning Star, the Stella Matutina.

Our Lady! Our Sweetness Who fixes us in our love of solitude, 
search for God and flight from the world!
She is called Porta Caeli, Gate of Heaven, 
obtaining graces of salvation for souls
 on the fishing boat’s port side. 

Internet endangers our solitude and, in the good sense, our flight from the world. We have therefore decided, as an experiment, that from today we will check Church and World news only on Thursdays. We will post on the Internet (blog or Facebook) only on Thursdays. We will receive or reply to email only on Thursdays.

Our boat Stella Maris 
has set directions for the solitude of the sea. 
We keep you in our prayers 
and ask for yours for us.

Thursdays will see us back into port, 
fresh, buoyed up, and still listing slightly to starboard.

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"And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."

-Papa Francis quote

He does not know you, yet he prays for you.
He will most likely never meet you, yet he loves you.

This is your chance to show your love, for as the Bible teaches, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."