1. After intensive research of the life and history of Elizabeth Eppinger, Mother Alphonse Marie, we begin in this jubilee year 2013-2014 The Year of Spiritualityof our Foundress.
Spirituality of Mother Alphonse Marie is her spiritual life. She taught the first sisters its principles through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Our task today is to seek out the principles and deep spiritual motives of the Foundress which led her to this spirituality.
Her spirituality springs from the identity that she is called to. It is her style of life whereby God is at the centre and she wants to embrace him with all her being.
Christ the Redeemer is the central point for her. The sight of the cross is decisive and attractive and it does not remain at the point of suffering and death, but leads to the glorified Christ.
From her childhood on God gave her the grace to be penetrated by the mystery of the cross and there she found the merciful love through which God loves everybody. Meditation on the cross is for her the pathway. This is why she knows to accept and bears it.
Theologians, in the beatification process of Godís servant, emphasize that, in her spiritual life, there is a very ardent influence of the spirituality of Saint Alphonse de Liguori.
Elements of this spirituality are as follows:
- She felt herself to be an instrument of Godís mercy and she offered herself, together with the crucified Jesus, for the salvation of souls;
- She desired that all people know Godís mercy and she wanted to glorify his name;
- She did not ask anything for herself but to understand Godís will and confide in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
She lived her relationship to God and to the Church in a totally new way: to meditate on the mystery of the Redemption, live from it and help others to find an access to this mysteryand so she showed the world the new way of Christian life.
Characteristic aspects of spirituality are the question of the spirit of Foundress, the fidelity of the Sisters to this spirit, and the fruitfulness of the Congregations originated in this spirit.
2. In reality, the spirit revives the Sisters, originating from the foundation of Mother Alphonse Marie. The passage to this spirit is explained in the experience of Godís servant even before the foundation of the Congregation. Elizabeth practiced Christian virtues in a heroic way.
It had prepared her for the foundation and she became Godís instrument, determined to mediate Godís love towards the sick and poor. She understands what sin is, she longs to know and love God, and she understands the power of prayer. Spontaneous prayer becomes the form of dialogue, and it grows into a constant dialogue with God.
Frequent meditation on the sufferings of the crucified Christ make way for more personal appropriation. The desire to unite with Christ is an important aspect of the spiritual way of Elizabeth. Her spiritual life is always governed by the same rules, in spite of changes of circumstances.
3. The secret of the spiritual life of Elizabeth, later Mother Alphonse Marie, consists in practicing Christian virtues. Practice of the three theological virtues and faith in her age has the character of extraordinary greatness.
She shows this spirit of faith in every area of her life. Faith is strongest in the time of illness when she urgently continues in prayer and makes progress in spiritual life.
The secret of her spiritual life is saturated with the living springs of theological virtues. She lived them as a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ.
She naturally tends to unify with Jesus. This love has a character of mystic love and she lives it fully. The spirituality of Mother Alphonse Marie is clearly theocentric and christocentric.
Her spiritual experience consists in radicalism, conviction, and perseverance. She lives her vocation to build her relationship with Him in every activity of her life. She inserts into this reality gifts of grace, fully lived virtues, and life with the Church.
Thatís why she was able to say with St. Paul: ďYet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me ď(Gal 2: 20). We can say that spiritual life understood as life in Christ, life according to Holy Spirit, is the way towards greater faithfulness.
It is in this way that the Spirit leads her to greater likeness with Christ in full community of love and service in Church.
The cardinal and moral virtues that characterize the spiritual portrait of Mother Alphonse Marie, are like a kind of flower that has bloomed from theological virtues.
There is the same sign of desire as in theological virtues and these are dictated by faith in God and love for God. They reflect the attitudes to God and neighbor in humility, forgiveness, trust, patience, chastity, obedience, poverty, care for the sick and poor, and they are realized in heroic way.
4. We want to walk together with our common Mother Alphonse Marie the entire jubilee year 2013-2014. We have chosen twelve virtues of Mother Alphonse Marie that theologians have explored and confirmed that she lived them in heroic way.
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. promulgated the Decree on these heroic virtues. Here it is written: ďWritings about mother Alphonse Marie are the real source of getting to know her spiritualityď..
Valuable guide and aid in getting to know the spirituality of Mother Alphonse Marie will be the text brought forward: Virtues of Godís servant Mother Alphonse Marie (Appendix 1) processed according to authentic documents. The aim is to unite all the Sisters of Alphonse Marie in the world to be of one heart and mind with their spiritual mother.
As an impulse for every month (Appendix 2) we offer you the statements of theologians concerning her life and sanctity, which are like expression of the voice of the Church about our Foundress.
Our task during the following jubilee year is to get closer to her by the attentive study of her virtues, the main elements of her spirituality in the specific form of her consecrated life and her relationship to God and to the environment.
A. Virtues of Godís servant Mother Alphonse Marie: Chapter I-XII- one chapter every month (September 2013 - August 2014). .
B. Impulse for every month
Some basic articles mentioned before for each month can help as impulses for meditation - they are chosen from the statements of the theologians and should serve as a basis for mutual sharing.
C. Holy Scriptures:: Parallels from the Holy Scriptures; find parallels to the theme of the month: faith, hope,Ö in the Word of God and think about them (in every research we do in the Holy Scriptures we can find a personal message).
5. The Congregations originated from the foundation of Mother Alphonse Marie insist on spiritual life according to her example. It can be a real school of evangelical spirituality.
The high quality of consecrated life presented by our Foundress shakes the conscience of people in all times. All are thirsty for absolute values and Mother Alphonse becomes a strong advocater for everybody.
We consider the perfect life of Venerable Godís servant as a grace, the fruitful work that she began is a grace, the fidelity of the Sisters to original spirit is a grace, and the cooperation of separate branches within the original Congregation is also a grace.
According to this fruit you can know the trees of our Congregations today. So, let us be inspired in everything and everywhere by the greatness of her simple life.
In the name of the Committee, united in sisterly love
Sr. KatarŪna KriötofovŠ, SDR
The directress of the project
Rome, 31 July 2013, anniversary of departure into eternity of Mother Alphonse Marie Eppinger