A summary of the traditional Redemptorist Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer, showing its origins in 16th century Venice
On the third Sunday of July, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (C.Ss.R. or “Redemptorists”) historically celebrated the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer. The feast, which has origins dating back to 16th C. Venice, was solemnized by the Redemptorist Order through a concession granted by Pope Benedict XIV in 1749. Prior to mid-20th C. liturgical reforms, which included simplifying the traditional Roman liturgical calendar, the Redemptorists kept the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer as a First Class Double (roughly equivalent to a First Class Feast on the 1962 calendar) with an Octave. In times past, the Redemptorists also honored this feast on February 25 and October 23, and enjoyed the privilege of being able to recite a votive Office of the Most Holy Redeemer once-a-month.
While the official day of this feast has already passed for the 2016 calendar year, that does not mean faithful Catholics cannot continue to honor its historic octave in spiritual union with the great Redemptorist saints of old, including Gerhard Majella, Clement Mary Hofbauer, John Neumann, and the order’s founder, Alphonsus Liguori.
Above all else, Catholics should recall that the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer is an expression of joy and gratitude for the great gift of the Redemption. Consider the Introit of the feast, which is taken from Isaias 61:10 and Psalm 88:2.
Gaudens gaudébo in Dómino, et exsultábit ánima mea in Deo meo: quia índuit me vestiméntis salútis, et induménto justítiae circúmdedit me. * Misericórdias Dómini in aetérnum cantábo: in generatiónem et generatiónem annuntiábo veritátem tuam in ore meo.
(I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God. For He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of justice He hath covered me. * The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever: I will shew forth Thy truth with my mouth to generation and generation.)
An ideal prayer to keep the spirit of the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer alive in the heart, or simply to give thanks to our Lord throughout the year, is the Collect from Mass.
Deus, qui Unigénitum tuum mundi Redemptórem constituísti, et per eum, devícta morte, nos misericórditer ad vitam reparásti: concéde; ut, haec benefícia recoléntes, tibi ejúsdem redemptiónis fructum percípere mereámur.
(O God, who didst establish Thy only begotten Son as Redeemer of the world and through Him, having overcome death, didst restore us mercifully unto life: grant that, recollecting these benefits, we may be made worthy to receive the fruit of that redemption.)
Those wishing to delve further into this celebration of the Redemption as part of their daily scriptural reading or meditation may wish to consult Isaias 51:1-15, which constitutes the readings of the First Nocturn of Matins for the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer. For perhaps now more than ever it is crucial to recall that God Himself “will comfort you,” even from the wiles and wickedness of mortal men (cf. verse 12), before entering “into Sion singing praises” with everlasting joy to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind (cf. verse 11).