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Manahoana? (How is it going?) Salama! (Greetings!)
We want to share our joy in being fraternity, coming from different cultures, welcomed by Felix in Madagascar, and we share our experience of work in Antananarivo and Mahajanga through what we have lived with the Little Sisters of the Gospel in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of the capital, in our visit with the Malagasy priest fraternity in Amborovy, and in our sharing in the closing of the National Assembly of the Spiritual Families of Charles de FOUCAULD. Adoration, celebration, and opening our hearts to be read by others and being able to read the hearts of others– all this has made it possible for us to feel like a fraternity in the Carmel of Amborovy where the Carmelite sisters have treated us as family.
Thanks to Felix we have been able to live these days as “a Nazareth,” close to the people, who each day have gifted us with a smile and a greeting. The message of Pope Francis has been present in our meeting and has helped us value the Word of God as the animator of our fraternity, remembering the 50th anniversary of Dei Verbum in 2015.
We have reviewed the fraternities in 5 continents—the priest fraternity is present in 43 countries– where Br. Charles’ charism and message of universal brotherhood is like the gospel that we breathe. We appreciate the impulse of the fraternity in Asia toward an ever-improving coordination and communication; the Month of Nazareth in France, Brasil, Chile, Cameroon and Ireland this past year, great news that we can’t hide in a box; the call to dialogue with Islam in Europe, Africa and Asia–one Father who desires understanding between his sons and daughters and doesn’t desire to be the cause of separation and conflict; we trust that the upcoming meeting in July 2015 in Viviers, France for priests who live and work with Muslims will be a great help in uniting us in mutual respect and not separating us; we observe new problems in communication due to long distances or due to being overworked and we wish that our website www.iesuscaritas.org would be a point of communication for all so that we can communicate in a fast and practical way, and we hope that each document about Charles de FOUCAULD would be known among us; we celebrate all that has been lived in the assemblies of the United States, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, of Africa, in Kribi, Cameroon, and of Europe, in Verona, Italy, receiving from the brothers their impressions and happiness.
The recognition of our priestly fraternity as a Pontifical Right is getting closer and has received a good response and we await good results from the actions that are being taken in the Congregation for the Clergy through brothers close to the Fraternity.
For the 100th anniversary of the Easter of Brother Charles we don’t propose general criteria for the celebration; we know that in each continent, country, diocese, parish or local fraternity the event will be organized as Family. All of these should be celebrations in the style of Nazareth, far from expressions of triumphalism and showiness.
We have reviewed our finances. The balance of our international account is fragile. We remind each country that fraternity is also sharing our financial goods, especially to help develop the Month of Nazareth and assemblies in Asia, Africa and America, to help the international team to be present when requested and also to support our annual council meeting. Misaotra betsaka, thank you very much, for your generosity. We appreciate greatly your efforts for this sharing.
There are three important calls that we perceive in our lives as priestly fraternities: the day in the desert, as a monthly priority, as a time of listening, leaving everything behind; the review of life as a time spent with the brothers, reflecting on their feelings, projects, problems, their interior life, their processes, and how they also would reflect and help us; the promise in each fraternity to make progress in mutual support, as a family helps its own, in the practicalities of life, without becoming spiritually detached, to know how to share in a project, work as a team or take a stand on a social or human issue. We believe that this is part of the dream of Charles de FOUCAULD, seeing the living Jesus, crucified and risen, in each man and woman, the living Jesus who contemplates and loves us as we contemplate and love him in daily adoration of the Eucharist.
A big fraternal embrace from the team, trusting in your help in prayer,
Amborovy, Madagascar, 11 September 2014, the day of our return
MESSAGE FROM THE EUROPEAN ASSEMBLY IN VERONA 20th-27th August ’14
We send you warmest greetings from the magnificent setting of Sezano near Verona where, surrounded by vines and olive trees, our assembly brought together, from 20th to 27th August, 19 delegates from 10 countries representing 1600 members of our fraternities in Europe. The following are some of the main conclusions we want to share with you.
1. We are walking with the Church through changing times:
– our Churches in Europe are facing the religious indifference of their people, either because these have gradually lapsed from their faith or because they are ignorant of the basics of Christianity. The Church has been relegated to the margins of society.
– our societies themselves have been shaken by the assaults of financial capitalism that has neither regard for human values nor care for the environment.
– the reality of migration in search of work or asylum and the growing presence of Islam in our societies are a challenge and sometimes a cause for concern.
– the style and the gestures of Pope Francis give us new heart and summon us back to the simplicity of the Gospel.
2. As priests walking with the Church in new situations, we rediscover the relevance of the charism of Br. Charles de Foucauld
– his passion for God led him to put Christ at the centre and to make God’s Word in the Scriptures his essential food.
– his discovery of the saving implications of the hidden life of Jesus in Nazareth led him to a life of great simplicity and closeness to the poor.
– his passion for the Gospel ‘to be cried aloud with the whole of his life’ led him to give priority to encounters, conversations, friendships and the duty of understanding the other person’s culture as a way to mission.
– he anticipated some of the great intuitions of the Second Vatican Council which point the way for our Church today: the Word of God (Dei Verbum), the Eucharist as source and summit (Sacrosanctum Concilium), the mission and the mystery of the Church (Lumen Gentium), human beings to be loved (Gaudium et Spes).
3. In the footsteps of Br Charles, we feel called to boldly take the road Pope Francis is showing the Church.
– called to be rooted in Christ so that our lives re-echo the Gospel.
– called to play our part in being a Church that ‘goes forth’ and becomes more missionary.
– called to give first place to encounter, dialogue, listening to others (especially muslims) and so draw close to those on the different ‘margins’.
– called to keep a simple life-style, making us accessible to the poor, close to the people and ‘smelling of the sheep’.
– called to keep our hearts open to the joys and sorrows of our vast world, attentive to the work of the Holy Spirit.
– called as fraternities to be an influence for unity in our presbyterates, marked by diverse pastoral options and the presence of priests from other countries.
During the assembly we were filled with joy and thanksgiving for the presence among us of our brother Gianantonio Allegri, recently set free after 57 days of captivity in the hands of Boko Haram. He recounted this terrifying episode which also turned out to be ‘the treasure hidden in the field’.
We listened to the experience of the fraternities in French-speaking Africa which had just held their Month of Nazareth. Here was an invitation to strengthen our ties with fraternities of different continents which can teach us much in the face of common concerns like the dialogue with Islam and how to establish fraternity in a context of violence.
Sharing too with other visitors from the wider family of Charles de Foucauld (lay, religious men and women) brought home the importance of keeping in touch. Br. Charles considered the role of the laity as vital in evangelization.
Finally, a visit/pilgimage to the monument on Monte Grappa commemorating the 25,000 soldiers from all over Europe who lost their lives there during World War 1 came as a call to our fraternities to work tirelessly for peace at a time when ‘the senseless massacre of war’ (Pope Benedict XV in 1917) is again at the gates of Europe. (Ukraine, Middle