GENERAL CHAPTER HIGHLIGHTS: October 13-15, 2016
Day 11 of the Chapter. The Capitulars prayed the Liturgy of the Hours. The holy mass, presided by Fray José Mª Aguerri, the Prior Provincial of the Province of the Our Lady of Consolation, was offered for the deceased benefactors of the Order.
As the information phase of the Chapter concluded, COMMISSION PHASE ensued. The different commissions were tasked to study in detail the following areas: charismatic identity and government; mission, ministerial, and educational apostolate; the youth and vocations; formation; and the restructuring of the Order. The Life and Mission Project was reviewed. The capitulares had to dig up anew the results of consultations, the opinions heard in the Chapter hall as well as the reflections of the commissions themselves. They were recapitulated to facilitate the formulation of concrete proposals to be presented in the hall and to be subjected to vote.
Before the groups went to work, some pending issues relative to restructuring had first to be addressed: secretariats, commissions, institutes, and the possibility of creating new forms of organization, etc.
At the start of the afternoon session, the capitulares voted on the final draft of the mission of the Order. This will be integrated in the Life and Mission Project.
As the Vespers hymn goes: “Night will not break your relationship with mankind; night is the time of salvation”, and after supper, the Chapter delegates gathered in the chapel for a lectio divina wherein they put all lights and shadows experienced during these days of the Chapter, all illusions, fears, hopes and insecurities in the hands of Jesus in dialogue with Nicodemus. It was time to pray the Word in John 3, 1-3. It was an invitation to identify with Nicodemus, the perfect teacher of the law, man of the temple, of age and with much experience… But Nicodemus lacks something, he misses something much greater. He needed to be born again… to submit self to the Lord, his only love. “Do not be afraid”; “Peace be with you”; “Do you love me more than these?”; “Your faith has saved you, go in peace”; “I am with you”; “My grace is enough”. The LV General Chapter was, indeed, witness to the “night that is time of salvation”!
The Holy Eucharist was celebrated with vocations to the Augustinian Recollect life as the main intention. Fray Dionisio Q. Selma, Prior Provincial of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Province. Fray Lauro Larlar gave an exhortation during the homily, calling to mind the importance of religious life as the reflection of the appeal of Jesus. Only from the Lord, with all our hope in his great mercy, welcoming His will, can religious life illuminate lives and awaken the vocation. That is the challenge.
From the start of the morning session, the whole day was dedicated to the work of the commissions, some of which have already profiled their first proposals that will be appearing soon in the Chapter hall.
Each commission is led by a President who moderates the reflection and the interventions, and a Secretary who takes charge of collecting all ideas that emerged and presents them in the session hall.
Although the commissions have a specific objective to deal with, they can also make proposals on any other issue tackled by the others. In this way, the dialogue in the plenary sessions is enriched even more.
The starting point of each commissions is the Life and Mission Project of the Order, the consultations made with the religious, the technical studies carried out during the sexennium, the contributions of the Capitulars in the plenary sessions, and the ideas that emerged during the meetings of the commission.
At the Roman basilica of St. Augustine, where the tomb of St. Monica lies, the Capitulars gathered to celebrate the Eucharist. Fray José Ramón Pérez, Vicar General and First General Councilor, presided the mass and gave the homily.
As calendared for their Saturday schedule, the General Chapter members also went on a pilgrimage to the St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican) covering the five stations of the Via Crucis which they had prepared for their entry through the Holy Door.
The brief yet intense procession started at the Castel Sant’Angelo. The first station was an invitation to meditate on Psalm 122. At the second stop, in front of the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, was the central figure of the reflection.
The third station was at the threshold of the St. Peter’s Square. It was a moment of praying together the Prayer for the Jubilee of Mercy. At the fourth stop, facing the Holy Door, everyone was invited to embrace God’s mercy with Psalms 103 and 24.
The last of the stations, already inside the basilica, was near the tomb of St. Peter, which in that afternoon, was jam-packed with people. There the Chapter President, Fray Miguel Miró invited those present to renew their faith by reciting the Creed.
The final invitation was something inspiring for everyone: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk. 6:36).