in the midst of this time of Easter, with the joy of the Risen Jesus, and without leaving aside concern for those suffering in so many parts of our world, near and far from us, perhaps right beside us – immigrants, persecuted Christians, those displaced by wars, people treated like animals, child soldiers – people like ourselves living in a different country, or in a social, family or work environment with their Human Rights reduced to pure theory, for reasons we are all aware of, the message of Easter puts us in our place and opens our eyes. That young man dressed in white who in the tomb prepared for Jesus tells the women that Jesus is risen, not to come and embalm him but to go and proclaim that he is alive, that young man is each one of us, and it is our responsibility to tell by our lives as brothers that Jesus is alive, and no stone – greed, envy, hatred, fundamentalism – can hide it and that it is not necessary to continue embalming him with religious formulae that have nothing to do with the Gospel, reduced to an image that is worshipped but not loved. Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, our Brother, God on Earth, strengthens us today with his light and sends us out to be priests, servants of the people, of the least of people, especially of the poor, not as religious professionals – Lords of the temple or masters of a religious court – (resort, condo, golf club – in each country it will have a different style –), who take refuge in ceremonies – and remain comfortable in their power structures and forms. Francis our Pope begins his Bull Misericordia Vultus saying that Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy, and further on, that we are called to live mercy because we first of all have been given mercy. This Holy Year announced by Francis is great news this Easter and calls us to be merciful. However, how difficult and complicated it is to be merciful to those who do not practise it, and that is where we face a challenge in our lives.
It would be good to begin the Holy Year of Mercy in our fraternities doing a Review of Life suggested by each country’s situation and by the overall context of our world. Later we will be able to offer some ideas.
In Easter week we took part in the Assembly of the Charles de FOUCAULD Family in Castelfranco, Italy, with the delegates and responsibles of the Fraternities working in a fraternal atmosphere which the Disciples of the Gospel afforded us at their central fraternity, making us feel very much at home, accompanied in a simple manner by these young Sisters who are a pure joy. Thanks to them and to the team made up of Marianne, Anne Marie, Antonella and Josep, we worked on the theme ‘Charles de FOUCAULD, Man of Prayer, Worker, the Challenges for our Fraternities’, sharing our experiences. We shared the responses to the Preparatory Questionnaire. You can see the summary of our Priestly Fraternity response on the web-site www.iesuscaritas.org It is important to highlight all we did about the Centenary of Brother Charles, gathering the initiatives of the different Fraternities and countries. It is very clear that we want to celebrate the Centennial with the simplicity of people of the Gospel and in the style of Nazareth, without any triumphalism.
Our next meeting will be in Aachen, Germany in Easter Week 2017. The new Preparatory Group is made up of Marianne, (Secretary), Armelle (Little Sister of the Gospel), Antonella (Disciple of the Gospel) and Claudio (Lay Fraternity).
It was a great joy for me to meet up in Castelfranco once more with Secondo MARTIN, the Italian Responsible, in the open session, and with Giannantonio ALLEGRI, whom I met for the first time. His testimony and peace extravaganza helped me also to feel freed from abductions, attachments and dependencies, and called to forgive again and again those who might harm me. This brother gifts us with his Nazareth of life, heart and open hands to show the mercy of God in situations difficult to imagine. His abductors and his liberation live together in his heart.
Other good news this Easter is the proximate beatification of Óscar Arnulfo ROMERO –Saint Romero of America –. His blood shed for the name of Jesus is another call to the universal Church to cherish the generous dedication of men and women who, like Archbishop ROMERO, have given all for their people. This pastor teaches us to be pastors like Jesus, without fleeing from the danger associated with commitment to the poorest. He did not fear the danger and, like Jesus, he sided with others without regard for the consequences. Congratulations especially to our Latin-American fraternities.
Our Brother Charles gives us, witnessing these weeks to changes in the world, to unresolved conflicts, and to new forms of slavery, the possibility from Nazareth to better understand those whose lives become problematic when they lose everything, due to accident, attack, natural catastrophe, war, extreme poverty or illness. How can we understand these suffering people? How do we understand God? Is it a head or a heart problem? How did Brother Charles fit together all he experienced, and how, Gospel in hand, are we called to share and help? For many life has lost its meaning; hope and mercy are the bread we must break daily and this is an exercise of conversion of our hearts, of faith and a contemplative space that puts us on the Cross of Jesus and in the tomb too, to announce fearlessly and joyfully that he is alive, with the stone rolled aside and the door wide open. Sharing pain and joy is a sign of incarnation.
In July we will celebrate the Asian Month of Nazareth in Myanmar, and in November in Marsanne, France. Also in July the Viviers meeting for priests in relation to Islam. These events are mentioned on our web-site www.iesuscaritas.org and we on the International Team urge you to take part, or to pray for the brothers, putting these meetings of the Fraternity in the Lord’s hands, as an act of universal brotherhood. We must not stay only in our little fraternity groups of our local or national Fraternities: there are many other brothers of other languages or races who live the charism of Charles de FOUCAULD as diocesan priests. When we share all this, not like a brand label, or like a spiritual group, we are living universal brotherhood and we draw closer to the model of Jesus, to that of a Samaritan Church, which gets down from its high horse and attends to whoever is in need, without turning back or looking away.
To conclude, thanks for letting me know of any Fraternities events (retreats, Months of Nazareth, meetings…) to announce on the CALENDAR of the web-site. Many thanks to one and all.
With Easter joy, which spreads like the water we sprinkle on brothers and sisters in celebrations in our churches, my sincere and fraternal embrace proclaiming the resurrected Jesus.
Perín, Cartagena, Murcia, Spain, 23 April 2015
(Thank you, Liam, for the translation to English)