Saint John Neumann Calls us all to Apostolic Charity and Courageous Christianity
perspective. For instance, even before he was ordained, his desire to do the will of God and his desire to become a missionary in America reflected fundamental qualities of Redemptorist spirituality. Shortly after he arrived in America, he was ordained into the priesthood and assigned to his first parish. Only after he completed this assignment did he enter into the Redemptorist Order.
His first American parish included hundreds of square miles of frontier around Niagara Falls, Buffalo, New York and Erie, Pennsylvania. Consequently, he spent long hours riding on horseback. In this way, he fulfilled the Redemptorist mandate to minister to the poor and forgotten living on the fringes of society.
Traveling on horseback was also a great suffering for him because he was often lonely and exposed to freezing weather. This experience may have contributed to Saint John Neumann's desire for communal life which led him to the Redemptorists and culminated in his rise to the office of bishop and sainthood.
When Saint John Neumann was made bishop of Philadelphia, certain expectations were placed on him by the wealthy patrons and his fellow bishops. Yet, he remained true to Redemptorist spirituality. He often avoided high society, maintained a simple life and continued to minister to his poor rural parishioners.
As a result of these choices, he received harsh criticism. Saint John Neumann's response was that of a true Redemptorist, humble and charitable. They called him the "Little Bishop." Although he was small in stature, it is believed that this title also referred to his great humility.
Throughout his ministry, Saint John Neumann also exhibited a fiery zeal and a willingness to suffer in union with our Lord. These spiritual qualities helped him endure the suffering he experienced when he left his home and family for the sake of missionary work, and when he traveled on horseback through miles of wilderness in the north east and when he was subjected to criticism as Bishop. His zeal is also evident in the number of books he wrote. It is especially evident in the numerous schools and churches he built during a time in our nation's history when anti-Catholicism was at a high point.
His prayer life was also influenced by Redemptorist spirituality. For instance, he had a great devotion to the Eucharist. It was Saint John Neumann who established the Forty Hours of Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Another example of his prayer life can be seen through the many prayers he composed.
Many of the prayers he wrote are addressed to the Blessed Mother, and many of his prayers to God conclude with an appeal to Mary for her intercession. It should be no surprise, then, that Saint John Nuemann also had a great devotion to our Blessed Mother. So should we.
Even the motto he picked when he was ordained Bishop reflects the deep spirituality of his chosen order. His motto, "Passion of Christ, strengthen me," specifically invoked Christ's Passion and the glorious outcome that awaits all who believe and endure. It is through the Passion of Christ that the Redemptorist receives his nourishment and draws his strength.
In other words, the Passion of Christ is the source of apostolic charity which is at the heart of Redemptorist spirituality. It is the key to this "lifestyle conversion". Saint John Neumann Calls us all to Apostolic Charity and Courageous Christianity.
Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Saint, John Neuman, Redemptorist, Michael, Terheyden, Redemption, salvation,
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