“I have ardently desired to give My Spirit to the world and to communicate it to My creatures endowed with reason, in order to live with them and in them until the end of the world. I gave them My Only-Begotten Son with infinite love, and through Him, I communicated to them My Divine Spirit, the Consoler, to deify them in life, justice, and truth, and to bind them all into My delight, in Him, the Word, the Son of Love. … so that My creatures may keep in mind the eternal charity with which I have loved them, I have been pleased to choose this Institute, so that it shall be a living memorial (“Viva Memoria”), to all the men of the world of everything that My Only-Begotten Son was pleased to do for their salvation in the space of thirty three years. And the Sisters have life forever in my sight”.
With these words Mother Celeste begins her project of Redemptoristine community life. They are also the key to reading about her life and her spiritual message. Everything in her is in fact confirmed and articulated as an ever clearer and more profound experience of the mystery of Christ received in these dimensions, to the point of not being or desiring to be anything other than His living memorial.
For Mother Celeste in fact, everything is related to, and takes value from the Lord as a living and life-giving presence within us. In regard to the spirit, He makes us participants in His life, virtues and works – in a single word – in His own being. He as if gathers everyone into Himself as His body, His living portrait, His own likeness, and His image, which the Father loves with the same love with which He loves and is loved by Him. Being saved means simply that we have Christ living in us through the Spirit, in a growing process of assimilation such that it becomes difficult, at a certain point, to separate the Saviour from the believer, the person of Christ from the person of the believer. Being saved means living because of Christ living in us, and dying and being resurrected in Him in order to live because of Him.
But all this – and Mother Celeste repeats it forcefully – is not for ourselves, but for others, and for the world. By sharing His life with us, the Saviour works to make us His “living memorial” in the world, and for the world. Christ in fact fills us so much with Himself as to transform us into His own transparent and radiant presence. We are those who continue Him on in history, we are His heralds and His presence who bring about the saving nature of His works, and show His “beauty” and His “purity” which radiate out and generate the love which is salvation.
So being the “living memorial” of the Saviour requires a generous, faithful and total commitment to conforming ourselves with Him; and in our choices, attitudes and works we must be such as to present ourselves effectively as the “memorial” which brings about the saving work of Christ. Imitation, for Mother Celeste, is not just simply conforming ourselves to Christ as a model, an example or a master, but it is first and foremost harmonizing ourselves in the spirit with Him, so He can share Himself, His virtues and His works with us, and so that we act like the Saviour through the fact that He lives in us, and because He can live more profoundly in us, since we live from Him, and live ever more within Him, and because He can then most effectively be the Saviour of mankind in us and through us. In a single phrase, the imitation is through the memorial.
The religious community that Mother Celeste intends is all in this perspective.
It is a union and fraternal charity in Christ the Saviour which makes Him present, “remembers” Him, and irradiates Him in the Church and in the world It is not a closed and separate place for the contemplation and perfection of individuals in need of security from the world. It is the Church in prayer, all taken up by the mystery of the Saviour in His historical realisation, and all transformed into Him, to the point of being His radiant sign, clear and convincing to the whole world, especially the poor. It is nothing other than the beauty, pure and simple (i.e., clear and transparent) of the Saviour, in order to arouse Christ’s saving love in others.
For this reason, it has no other norm than the Gospels, incessantly the subject of meditation and prayer, so as to arrive at the living “sense”, i.e., Christ in His mystery.
So intense a vision and spiritual practice both express and constitute a new confirmation of our basic dignity. For Mother Celeste this can in fact be found only in Christ, given that He – according to the opening page of the “Dialogues” – is the “seal” with which the Father stamps “all the just souls with the Being of justice. With this seal of love all the many elect souls are stamped, and with one seal alone all the many inspired portraits of Your unique love are stamped”.
And at the end of the same “Dialogues” – and in a manner analogous to what is also affirmed in the “Grades of Prayer” – Mother Celeste gives us a final decisive key to reading her spirituality – the Eucharist. Her spiritual journey leads to us becoming a single reality for the salvation of the world with the Eucharistic Christ. This explains everything which we have previously stated – that being a living Eucharist for the world, in Christ and with Christ through the Spirit, is, for Mother Celeste, the secret of her life and the fulcrum of her religious project.