Recollection Material – November 2021: LET US WALK TOGETHER ALONG THE PATH OF CHARITY
Seeing how near we are to the 56th General Chapter of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, let us dedicate the last recollections of this year 2021 and the first two of the year 2022, to reflect along spiritual lines and the interior dispositions that have been engraved in the Report on the State of the Order by the Prior General. We will concentrate on these spiritual lines as well as on the interior attitudes which we are invited to revise and to live as a true preparation of the heart to live out the charismatic, ecclesial, and fundamental event, as is the General Chapter of our Order. In this first Recollection we will focus on the first chapter of the Report on the General State of the Order. The guide for reading that we propose to you in this first chapter has for leitmotif the revitalization. Thus, we can group the ideas expressed in this extensive, poetic and dense chapter around the idea of revitalization. We are offered seven descriptions of what revitalization is, and four ways to accomplish it. In this recollection we propose a reflection wherein we have systematized the seven “definitions” of revitalization, according to the document, illustrating them with phrases from the Report itself. It is fitting to point out that the means of revitalization, because of its importance and theological and pastoral density, we have assigned for another day of recollection.
Return to yourself.
We now dispose ourselves to live this day of recollection, invoking the help and the light of the Holy Spirit, asking in a particular way that we may be able to enter into communion and unison with the whole Order and with the Church in this historical moment that we live.
Let us love the Lord, our God; let us love his Church. Let us love him as Father and her as Mother; him as Lord and her as his maidservant, because we are sons of his maidservant. Grant, O Lord, that we may be united as one soul to God as Father and to the Church as Mother. Let us imitate our predecessors, so that they who pray for us, may be happy over us. We ask you that your blessing remain always upon us. Amen, amen. (en. Ps. 88, 2, 14 [paraphrased]).
Your voice is my joy.
With tranquility and serenity in the heart, let us now read this biblical text. The Report on the State of the Order cites as synecdoche only verse eight. We offer you the complete periscope to guide and direct our reflection.
1 “I am the vine, and my Father is the vine grower. 2 He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. 3 You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. 4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown away like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
Strategies for Reading and Points for Reflection.
The Report offers us seven descriptions of what revitalization is. We offer you now a list of these definitions, and later we illustrate them with texts from the Report to which we added some questions, to help you reflect.
The Revitalization is:
1. A process of conversion: conversion that makes us open to something new in the Spirit, whatever may be your age.
2. To live the charism as a gift.
3. To take steps to change our schemas and eliminate the fixed rolls that impede us from loving without fear.
4. To remove the fear of trusting in the mercy of the Father.
5. To feel poor.
6. To put our security in God and not in works.
7. To happily surrender life in the mission entrusted to us.
8. Once again to give space in our heart:
a. to dreams
b. to love.
c. to creativity.
d. to unity of life.
e. to coherence.
f. to availability.
The Revitalization is:
- A process of conversion: conversion that makes us open to something new in the Spirit, whatever may be your age.
“Let us raise our eyes, we will see that there are admirable brothers who constantly revive their first love and widening their horizons, with great faith they live a process of conversion human, spiritual and pastoral.”
“Let us not rest with that ‘which goes not well’ to justify our mediocrity.”
• What for you is conversion?
• What impedes you to see the good and the holiness that exists in your community?
2. To live the charism as a gift:
“The gifts of the Holy Spirit pass us by unperceived, the strengths of the Charism and of the Order, we do not see the seeds of hope that sprout in our communities and pessimism invades our heart.”
• What are the main strengths of our charism today?
• How can you fight the pessimism?
3. Take steps to change our schemas and eliminate the fixed rolls that impede us to love without fear.
“Let us not remain in what always is to reaffirm what we already know and continue doing the same. Let us contemplate new horizons and discover that the Lord is creating something new. Let us dream together, let us walk united, only thus can we move forward.”
• What weight does routine have in you and “it has always been done this way”?
• What are your dreams for your community, about the Order, about the Church?
4. Let go of the fear to trust in the mercy of the Father.
“Let us open the eyes of the heart to see, in the light of faith, what the Lord inspires in the Church and what he does in the Order.”
• From your point of view, what is it that the Lord inspires today for the Church, for the Order?
• Why is it important to see all the events with the eyes of the heart?
5. To feel poor.
“We lack the illusion when we do not live the spirit of poverty, we exchange the gratitude for the exigency, and it is
then when we are accustomed to easily see the negative.”
• What weighs more in your life: the exigency and nonconformism, or the gratitude?
• Why is it important to feel poor?
6. To put our security in God and not in the works.
“That what is happening, also shakes us up interiorly and from faith, let us announce the Gospel of hope, let us be in
solidarity with the most needy and let us care for the Creation, because everything is related.”
• How do world events affect you?
• What importance do you give to the care of creation?
7. To commit life joyfully to the mission entrusted to us.
“To raise your eyes, to discover the seeds of hope that are deposited in our heart.”
• Why is joy important in your life?
• What are the characteristics of your work in the mission?
8. To return and give space in our heart to:
a. The dreams.
“It is good for us to receive the dream of our elders to be able to prophesy today and return to find ourselves with what one day enkindled our heart. Dream and prophecy together.” “How important it is to dream together!… Alone we run the risk of having mirage in what you see when there is nothing; the dreams are constructed together.”
• What is the future in which you dream?
b. To love.
“The fraternal life, the communion and the community are rooted in our charismatic identity, in what we are, in what we desire to be, in our mission and in our own style of apostolate.”
• How do you live out love in your community?
c. To creativity.
“It is the hour of creativity and of illusion, it is the time to discern in the light of the Gospel, to discover the vitality of the charism and to seek new forms and new ways to revive the fire of the heart and the audacity that comes from the Spirit.” “The Father has not stopped confiding in us, as neither has Christ stopped sending us his Spirit, who urges us to take the risk with fidelity and creativity in new evangelizing projects.”
• How do you live the creative fidelity in your life?
d. To unity of life.
“We resolved to pray together, to dream together, a community more fraternal and evangelizing, to work in teams, to walk together, share goods and advance in the same direction, each one with the talents he has received, and according to his possibilities. We feel unsatisfied when we isolate ourselves or we live a double life.”
• How is your integration in your community and in the community of the whole Order?
e. To coherence.
“It is also certain that we cannot concentrate only on myself and on what is my own, it is necessary to journey together and feel united in the same process of conversion. Perhaps we lack availability, coherence, organization, evangelical leadership and religious spirit, but the Lord continues trusting in us.”
• How do you manifest your coherence of life?
f. To availability.
“Today I am happy to see so many brothers who live happily. They invite me to raise my eyes and journey together.” • How is your joy and your availability?
Two Biblical Icons.
“Immersed in the human, social and spiritual crisis of our world, in face of the next General Chapter, the temptation of discouragement may arise as it happened to Moses and Elijah.”
Moses felt that the mission was beyond him, and asked God to send someone else, because he feared for his limitations (Ex. 3:11).
Elijah prayed for death, but discovered the presence of God in the soft murmur of the breeze and reassumed his mission with strength (1 Kgs 19:11-12).
One image: the afternoon breeze.
Lord, in the afternoon breeze, we want that you be the one to speak again to our heart. Let the coming General Chapter be for all of us, Augustinian Recollects, a time of grace, dialogue, and communion. Make us disposed through prayer, dialogue, co-responsibility and availability to accept the change. Make us capable, Lord, to live this charismatic moment, not as something pertaining to others, but as it really is: a task for everyone. We ask this through Christ our Lord.