Ven. Maria Celeste Crostarosa was no stranger to change. With all the changes she experienced in her life, one thing she was sure of: the constant love of the Redeemer. Love that was planted so deep that her roots grew strong in love of God reaching out her branches embracing the sisters in her communities, the church and world even unto today.
Baptized Giulia, she lived happily among her family for 21 years before entered a Carmelite monastery in Marigliano. After four brief years the monastery closed because it was under the patronage of an interfering Duchess who caused havoc among the lives of the nuns. Determined to be a religious, Celeste entered the Visitation monastery in Scala four months later.
It was there, while still a Novice, the Lord revealed His heart to her. His intent was that this community ‘was to be in the Church and in the world a living Memory of the Redeemer.’ The sisters’ lives were ‘to live out at a deep level the Paschal Mystery of Christ, dead and risen; and because the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, it would continue the mission of the Redeemer and so guide the world towards that which is the end and fulfillment of the world: becoming a new heaven and a new earth where God will be all in all.’ Const. #3
The new Rule came to pass but it was not without trial. Celeste was accused of being proud, disobedient, a mad visionary. It is true she had been blessed since her earliest memories of a profound relationship with Jesus with whom she had given her heart and conversed with as one does with their beloved. But being proud and disobedient would not characterize Celeste. She was humble in that she looked for no glory of her own: only to follow the will of her Beloved. And only when pushed came to shove did she choose obedience of conscience rather than submit to conditions that would lead others from glorifying God.
Thus, Celeste was expelled from Scala monastery. Where did she go? First, she rested her wounded spirit in a monastery by the
. Then she was asked by a bishop who appreciated her gifts to reform a lax Dominican monastery. She could have been happy there but after a while her desire to fulfill the Lord’s intent of establishing a community as revealed by Jesus drew her onward after two years. She founded a monastery under the new Rule in Roccapimonte but she had to close it after three years because she was interrogated by the Inquisition regarding another matter and it left the foundress under a pall of suspicion. Finally, she made a foundation in Almafi Sea and lived out the rest of her life until her soul flew to heaven to the heart of her Beloved. Foggia
No matter what trial befell her, or road she traveled, Celeste had faith in Jesus’ constant love and could echo the Song of Songs 6:3 and say, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.”
Today we are faced with change in our lives: we are living the Paschal Mystery. The Redemptoristines are relocating to another state and the Associates will re-organize to meet on their own and use modern technology to keep in contact with the Sisters and each other. The ground may seem like it is full of hard lumps of earth in which to replant our roots but because they are strong, and our love for the charism given to us through Celeste is deep, we can be confident that we will flourish and our branches will embrace the Church and world revealing the love of God. ‘It is in this way that the Redeemer is able today to accomplish His work of salvation in us and through us.’ Const. # 5