Redemptorists will invariably tell you that their deepest prayer has been in the midst of their mission. It can happen at any time and in any way. What is common is that it happens within our mission among the poor.
Preaching before a large crowd, a Redemptorist may hear his own words coming back at him, words whose origin surprise even him. And in a way, he has never experienced it before he humbly realises what he actually believes and he feels the wonder of it, the grace of it, and is filled with gratefulness. He continues preaching with an even deeper love for the people before him.
Sitting on a hard chair in a run-down home, listening to a struggling, unemployed woman, a Redemptorist, not in any pious way, might find himself transfixed by her heart’s cry, for he hears it as the cry of God piercing the world.
A Redemptorist may be a guest at a family table. During the meal, the gift of the experience – the family, their goodness, their openness, their hospitality – fills the room. What can he do but receive it all gratefully? For he knows it is a blessed taste of the feast in the kingdom.
A Redemptorist answers the door to a man wishing to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation. They sit down together and begin. But before the celebrant can raise his hand in absolution, forgiveness and unfathomable love fill the room. They are both aware of this experience but neither speaks of it. Grateful silence claims the moment. Both leave forgiven and blessed.
A Redemptorist is living among a group of excluded and disparaged people. Listening to them, walking with them, he sees he must put his words where his heart is. It is a new moment for him as he joins their call for justice. By doing so he looses his reputation among the many but is enfolded in communion with the few. He knows his prayer has been heard, his life poured out. Finally, among the excluded, he sits down with God.
Let the members ever take to themselves the exhortation of Christ the Redeemer: they ‘ought always to pray and not loose heart’ (Luke 18:1). Let them imitate the disciples of the first community in the Church: ‘they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers’ (Acts 2:42), ‘all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer together with Mary the mother of Jesus’.” (Acts 1:14)- Constitutions of the Redemptorists, No. 26
St Alphonsus, doctor of the Church, has been proclaimed the doctor of prayer. Without doubt, he saw prayer as a constituent part of the Christian life. He taught that everyone was called to personal prayer.
Alphonsus exhorted his first followers in the congregation to pray deeply within their own being and to pray together as a community. His followers today still hear that exhortation.
Of this you can be sure: whoever prays will certainly be gathered unto God.- Alfonso de Liguori