Leaning Forward Into God’s Promise
Dear Liguorian Readers,
If you’ve already read Virgil Tipton’s column, you know that change is once again in the air at Liguori Publications.
As my assignment as president and publisher drew to a close, Liguori’s board of directors set out to find new leadership. Their choices are a response to the changes in the Redemptorist congregation and in Catholic publishing: A layperson, Mr. Virgil Tipton, is our new publisher (chief executive officer), and Fr. Don Willard, CSsR, is our new president. They have the skills necessary to help Liguori Publications evangelize effectively in the twenty-first century.
With renewal as the theme guiding this issue of Liguorian, our thoughts turn to the kinds of reform possible with the Roman Curia. The renewal of any organization places stress on the people in the system, and a common feeling is fear. To move forward with only the faintest outline of a map requires hope and courage: hope to give us the strength to carry on, and courage to conquer the voices that predict only darkness and ruin—voices that insist that security in what we see and touch is preferable to unknown vistas. Unfortunately, the courage and hope displayed by Catholics of many stripes can be shadowed by the labels of “pioneer” or “liberal” bandied about in the press.
Many Liguorian readers classify themselves as “very conservative” or “conservative.” If pressed to place a label on myself, I’d choose “moderate.” But I believe it’s what’s inside us—not what we label ourselves—that drives us to take God’s redemptive Word to lives and lands plagued by violence, oppression, and sin. The acceptance of Jesus’ mission translates into the hard work of promoting peace and justice through reconciliation and communion.
My tenure at Liguori Publications falls just short of thirteen years. I will miss the men and women I worked with—those who come here to labor and then leave to give their attention and concern to families or similar important matters, work that’s as noble as anything accomplished on the Liguori campus.
I’ve learned about our capacity to mature through challenges and stress. Difficult conversations, dismissal of staff, exasperation at how much time it takes to achieve so little, the challenge of cajoling a group to think and act on behalf of an enterprise—all of these chip away at our stamina. At those times, patience is as thin as a wisp of smoke.
Yet men and women bear a resilient streak that helps them find the silver lining in the cloud. They remember that the good is never pure, but rather
alloyed with cruelty, pride, or other impurities. These tests prepare us for the future, and to emerge from them is gratifying.
For Christians, the future promised by God is here, but it has yet to blossom. The Redemptorist mission is to announce the Good News and the dignity of the human person while bringing comfort, encouragement, and a new vision of life to all—especially the poor and abandoned.
I breathe a bit easier these days because my work here is done and the yoke of leadership spans others’ shoulders. The mission will call me to something new—what that is, and where and with whom I’ll live, I don’t know. But now that I’m past the half-century mark I doubt it will be a repeat of my first assignment, where I was closer in age to the second graders than to the second-youngest man in the Redemptorist community.
For now, I lean forward into God’s promise, believing that new life awaits me no matter what road I travel.
In the Redeemer,
Fr. Mathew Kessler, CSsR