Recollection Material – January 2022: Vision of Hope II
Similar to the two preceding recollections, the Report of Fr. General inspires us in this first recollection of 2022. We focus on the virtue and the attitude of hope, which are very important at this moment of our journey as Augustinian Re- collect family. The General Chapter is a very valuable opportunity to take new steps in the process of Revitalization of the Order; a process that is a gift from God and a task for us who form the Augustinian Recollect Family. Christ is the only road we have to advance in this process. Let us allow Him and His Spirit to make all things new (Ap 21,5) and we ourselves to be instruments for the building up of the Kingdom, not only in our community, but also in the whole Church whose servants we are.
Return to yourself
Let us dispose ourselves to live this day of recollection, asking for the light of the Holy Spirit to enter in communion and in harmony with the whole Order and the whole Church in this historical moment that we live. Let us take the place of Jesus’ disciples, who received the Holy Spirit and began to speak in the different tongues of the nations, tongues that they never knew nor have learnt. Those who heard them were surprised, some admiring others ridiculing, to the point of saying: These are drunk and full of wine. Although they were speaking in ridicule, they were saying something true: they were wineskins full of new wine. In the Gospel we have heard: No one puts new wine in old wineskins. The carnal man does not understand the things of the spirit. The flesh is antiquity, grace is novelty. The more man renews himself for the better, the more capable he be- comes to abundantly receive the truth he tastes. The must was bubbling and from this bubbling flowed the tongues of the peoples. Grant, O Lord, that your Spirit make of us new wineskins, new men, to bring to our brothers the new wine that we have received from you, which is Yourself. Amen. (Ser- mon 267, 2 Paraphrased).
Your voice is my joy
Let us now read, with serenity and a heart well disposed, the Gospel of St. John 14:1 – 11.
1 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God, have faith also in me. 2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. 4 Where I am going you know the way.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.” The center of the reflection is verse 6: I am the way and the truth and the life. Jesus’ affirmation is not gratuitous, it arises from a doubt, from a dialogue with his disciples, in which they express their doubts and fears for the future. Jes- us announces that he is leaving; we, like Thomas or Philip, or the other disciples, are invited to believe in Jesus, and to put our faith and hope in him.
Elements for reading and reflection
Fr. General’s Report, ch. 3, 6-10)
3,6. We live the service of authority and obedience in the atmosphere of charity, encouraging hope and mutual dialogue.
Fraternal life is the privileged place so that we can all discern and welcome the will of God and journey together in unity of spirit and heart. Obedience vivified by charity unites the brothers in one same testimony and in a common mission, respecting the unique personality and diversity of gifts. In the communities, obedience is lived with availability. There are many religious who are always available, and admirable are the religious who ask to go to very difficult places. There is a desire that those who resist a change of assignment be fewer, who resist to go to poorer places, to accept positions of responsibility, including to assume a common project. In the Rule, St. Augustine reminds us: The Prior “should not consider himself happy for the dominion of his authority, but for the service of charity”; and in the Constitutions it is established that the superiors must understand and practice “his ministry as a service and a dedication to the brothers.” The Prior fulfills his mission when he assumes the leadership to organize, coordinate, delegate with trust, and direct so that all can feel co-responsible in a common project. For a Prior to possess moral authority, he needs prayer, transparency, he listens, he dialogues, he trusts to encourage the brothers to joyfully live the fraternal life. Not only the superior, but also the community, practices fraternal correction in the renewal of life.
3,7. We have a common apostolic project. We all feel co-responsible for the apostolic work entrusted to the com- munity. We program, we execute, and we evaluate in community.
The style of apostolate proper to the Order, demands from her a precise immersion into the life of the Church from her charismatic identity and adapting the apostolic works to the necessities of the times and places. In the Project of Life and Mission, the concrete and simple manner indicated in our mission is “To live and proclaim the Gospel, giving wit- ness to a contemplative and fraternal life, at the service of the Kingdom and in a Mission shared with the laity.” The communion demands going beyond the distribution of tasks and obligations. Starting from the union with Christ and the spirituality of communion expressed in the Constitutions (14-22), we need to improve the personal communication, the human relations, the listening and openness to dialogue. We need to evaluate and strengthen the unity and diversity, the search for the common good, have communitarian project and practice fraternal correction.
3,8. We seek Jesus Christ the Truth. We try to be coherent in our life and mission, giving prophetic testimony of a life contemplative, communitarian and apostolic.
According to Augustinian spirituality, one cannot know Christ as Truth that illumines life without sharing that experience with those around us. Christ is the Truth, the full reality of the Father’s gift. The Truth sets us free (Jn. 8:32). Christ frees us from slavery to sin and gives us true life. The Truth, that we find in the most intimate of our own intimacy, we share with our brothers in community as St. Augustine himself was doing. In this way the brothers enrich each other with the experience they are having with God, to grow together in community as pilgrims to the City of God. From the wealth that the community lives arises the apostolate, as a way of sharing what the religious themselves have received from God and which they are called to communicate to the Church, to enrich her with the Truth of Christ. When we organize ourselves in such a way that the apostolic activity and our works leave us sufficient time to dedicate ourselves for prayer and the study of the Sacred Books and, above it all still have time to share these and those experiences, we help one another and our apostolate becomes more effective.
3,9. We value and dedicate time to communitarian study, reading and reflection and we create spaces to dialogue with the world and the contemporary culture.
Following St. Augustine and the religious, who have been characterized for their spirit of wisdom, discernment and wide perspective, we give great value to study and we are open to dialogue with society and the contemporary culture. By his love for the truth, his intellectual honesty and search for a sincere dialogue between faith and reason, St. Augustine assures us that we can arrive at the truth. The Augustinian statement: ‘crede ut intelligas’ guides our dialogue with the thinkers and the contemporary culture, inviting us to have a faith that manifests the wealth of its own reasonable- ness, because an unreasoned faith is nothing (praed. sanct. 2, 5). The publication of books and reviews, the teaching work as well as the presence in the digital world, are small tribunals in the contemporary culture. These places, media and expressions are the territory where we as Augustinian Recollects express our desire to dialogue and to journey together along the path of charity, to seek the truth, as St. Augustine pointed out. We are all conscious of the importance of theological and pastoral updating, of the inculturation and of cultural apostolate. There were numerous religious who pursued superior studies, but for various reasons did not dedicate them- selves to the materials they studied. There is need to have religious with foresight into the different fields, well formed and willingly dedicated to the service of the provinces, of the Order, and of the Church.
3, 10. We are prophets of the Kingdom. We proclaim with joy and hope the Gospel that gives life. We testify with our lives to the fulfillment, though not complete, of the creation project of the Father; we denounce the injustices and we wager by our poor presence among the poor and the needy.
We say that we are prophets of the Kingdom, and we dare to affirm it and in our communities sparkles of prophecy are seen. The prophet today is the free man, he fears not to go against the current, he is disposed to give his life, spends time in prayer charging his heart with grace and with love, he knows to discern what comes from God and what is the fruit of human egoism, he know the reality of this world, he speaks of God without fear of what others may say, he hears the cry of the poor and denounces injustice. He does not stay in generalities and abstractions, he knows to be concrete and realistic in life; diplomacy is not his vocabulary, nor partisanship, he looks at all things with the eyes of faith. He has the wisdom to discern and not to remain in spiritualism, nor merely social activism. The prophet shows God where we are not, he breaks all schemas, makes us lose securities and destabilizes. It is not a question of titles nor of specialists, but of being passionate for God, and for the life he offers to us. Each one will see with humility before the Lord the conversion he needs to revive the prophetic sense and the ability to unite his voice to that of Jesus: “I give you thanks, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and have revealed them to little ones” (Mt. 11:25).
For communitarian dialogue
In community dialogue we share what each of the following words suggest to us from the perspective of hope and of revitalization of our Augustinian Recollect family: fraternal life, obedience, leadership, insertion, charismatic identity, communion-experience-dialogue, truth, inculturation, actualization, to be prophet, humility.
▶ Do I live the service of authority and obedience dialoguing, and from charity?
▶ Do I make effort to put into practice the part corresponding to me from the Project of Life and Mission of my community?
▶ Do we frequently revise the Project of Life and Mission of the community and do we adjust to the needs of our community and of our ecclesial ministry? Do we grow in the spirituality of communion, in listening, in dialogue, in discernment? How do I collaborate with the Project of Life and Mission of the Province, and of the Order?
▶ Do I allow that my encounter with Jesus in prayer strengthen my capacity to live in the truth, and do I share the truth of Jesus Christ with my brothers in community and with the persons whose lives I touch in my apostolic service?
▶ Am I committed to my process of permanent formation?
▶ Am I generous to share what I experience in prayer, the wealth of fraternal life and my learning from study and reflection?
▶ What conversion do I need to live with greater commitment my prophetic dimension?
Jn. 8:32 “The Truth will set you free.” This statement appears paraphrased in the Report of the Prior General. In the polemic context of the Johannine text, Jesus is presented as the Truth that the Father sends to the world to give life. For his part, St. Augustine sees himself as a searcher for Truth (conf. 3, 8), a search of which we are heirs and we know that it will lead us to the fullness of life.
Mt. 11:25 “I bless you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent, and you have revealed them to little ones.” The call to be prophets is put before us. Prophets of the Kingdom was one of the tasks of the past General Chapter: to be already in this historical moment an anticipation of the reality that God promises to humanity, to be a sign and presence of a new reality, a sign that begs communion with Jesus: I am the vine, without me you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5).
An image: Learn to love what God loves.
Final Prayer Lord, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Without you, to whom shall we go? In you we have our hope and faith. You be the vine to which we remain always united, that we may bear abundant fruit. Without you we are nothing. Ac- company this community of yours which you have chosen to be witness and prophecy in this actual world and let it force- fully proclaim the arrival of the Kingdom of Love. We ask this of you who live and reign fo
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