LETTER FOR ADVENT 2014
We are close to Advent and the feast of the anniversary of the death of Brother Charles: Universal Brother, this human gift of God for the Church and the world of the least, he who by his charism helps us discover God the Father and the goodness of people, worker and contemplative…we could give him a rosary of titles, all very different from the one he had socially as Viscount de Foucauld. The searcher, the man of peace, the poor man…When he encounters Jesus he is transformed in his humanity into a great friend of Jesus’, feeling loved and accompanied. To love and accompany people: this is one of our missions. We feel loved and accompanied: the gratuity with which our brothers and sisters show us the face of Jesus. Only the least of people can understand this. We recall this phrase of brother Charles: “Remember that you are small”.
There are now two years until the centenary of his passing to the Father having abandoned himself to Him, trusting in His will, thankful, commending his life into His hands, pure love, with the confidence of a son who knows that his father loves him, because he begot him. May Charles de FOUCAULD this 1st December, 2014, continue to inspire us to be universal brothers ourselves too, celebrating in our fraternities, or parish communities the ‘madness’ of one who sought to imitate the ‘madness’ of Jesus. .
Since Easter I had the chance to visit the fraternities of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in Rabat, learning from these brothers their ability to live in a culture so different from western culture as witnesses to Jesus, living with Islam and serving small groups of Christians. These brothers are a blessing for the Fraternity. Thanks to Marc BOUCROT, who received me as a true brother and taught me a few words of Arabic.
In August I shared the Summer retreat with the Spanish Fraternity, where we deepened our identity as diocesan priests called by Jesus to serve, celebrate and give help. We did all this within the context of an encounter of brothers who love the Fraternity and who commit themselves to it. The introductions to each daily theme were given by a member of the Malaga Fraternity, Javier GUERRERO. At the same time the European Assembly took place in Verona, Italy, whose final letter of declaration you will have received. It was a good time and a chance to share the life of the European Fraternities and the challenges of an ageing Church which is called to live alongside a materialist and pragmatic society and, at the same time, amid a growing proportion of different cultures. To be a Church not from structures of power, but rather to grant to each human being what Jesus would give them: to listen, accompany, serve, without all this presupposing a belonging to the Christian community. Our thanks to John McEVOY, Secondo MARTIN and the Italian brothers.
Our international team meeting in Amborovy, Madagascar, in September strengthened us as a multi-lingual, ethnic and cultural fraternity; it made us learn from each other and feel that we need each other, and that the coordination of the continental fraternities is the task of all of us. The Letter from Amborovy gives a resumé of our work and experience as a fratenity. In March Jean François and I met in my house to continue studying and try to offer responses on different themes of the fraternity that cannot be left over to next year. Whatever question or matter gives you concern, or initiative that seems interesting to you for the organization and co-ordination of the Fraternity, pass it on to us, because we all need each other. Thanks.
In October I shared with the Maltese Fraternity in their annual retreat and in the life and experience of some brothers who are very faithful to the Gospel and to the spirit of the Fraternity. This fidelity to Jesus and to the simple believing people which is also an experience of God, is pure biblical wisdom in men of faith with many years of pastoral work, who have given all for Jesus. At the end of the Day in the Desert apart from some rocks and fossills, I carried with me the silence garnered from the free gift to Jesus in the ordinary of each day from each person. Joseph FSADNI taught me a few words of Maltese and how to feel totally at home in Malta. Thanks.
This direct and fraternal contact with the brothers is helping me greatly to learn of their lives and of their concerns. It always brings me to Matt. 25,31-40: to go deeper in my dealings and relations with others, to listen rather than be listened to; to serve, rather than to preside at their celebrations; to announce good news, not to burden anyone with anxiety and pessimism; to encounter Jesus himself in the humblest of brothers. This Advent I wish that my experience not be a mere illusion. I would like that the people experience Jesus who comes to nourish those who hunger for happiness, to give to drink to those who thirst for joy, to receive the stranger who begs to join us, to clothe the one who is stripped naked by rights denied by wars, by quick and easy dismissal or eviction, to be with the one who is sick or elderly and who cannot enjoy the life that we enjoy, to visit the one who is in prison or alone, in personal isolation or alcoholic dependence, addicted to drugs or gambling, to stand up for women who are illtreated and deprived of rights in so many societies. I believe that Advent, apart from lighting a candle each Sunday, feeling that we are good children of God, of the one Father, is to be good brothers. We can ask ourselves: How long is it since I visited that person? When was the last time I phoned that brother? How concerned am I about the health and welbeing of others? The people of our parishes, when we are not there any longer, will not recall what we preached or said: their experience of Jesus will be how we treated our neighbour, and whether we are poor and whether we are with them in difficult and sad times, just as we are at their joys and feasts, whether we give our time and energy without demanding anything in return. Pope Francis, with other words, does not tire of speaking this way.
In Easter week, next April, in Castelfranco, Italy, in the house of the Disciples of the Gospel, which is part of the Carlos de FOUCAULD family, we will have a meeting of responsibles of the different fraternities. The questionnaire that I have sent out which is also on the site www.iesuscaritas.org you can, if you wish, tackle personally or in your fraternities. . I ask you to send your replies before the end of this year. Many thanks.
May the love of God flood into our hearts and continue to give peace and the serenity of hope to brothers of the Fraternity who live in complicated situations in their countries because of war that affects them and their families. Like Mary, may we have hope: she gave us the Saviour..
Aurelio SANZ BAEZA, brother responsable
Perín, Cartagena, Murcia, Spain, 25th November 2014