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ADVENT LETTER 2013 BROTHER RESPONSIBLE PRIESTLY FRATERNITY IESUS CARITAS
when you have this letter in your hands we will be celebrating
the anniversary of the Easter of Brother Charles, and also the beginning of Advent, or if not we will have already celebrated them. The current importance of his message for our Church today is indisputable. It is not just a spiritual message, a way of living ones faith: it is a way of living. It is to live Nazareth with believers or non-believers, in one’s own culture or
sharing in a totally different culture, it is to be the
presence of the living Jesus not so much in religious
signs, but rather one’s closeness to people while not
being anyone special. Coinciding with the charism of
Brother Charles, Pope Francis tells us we must go to the
outskirts, where one does not hear God spoken of,
where the most abandoned are found, who do not even
express a desire to know God, or live a faith in religions
very different from our own, or where the god of money
imposes its own norms and its own “liturgy”. Each one of us knows what these outskirts are. The language and witness of the Pope truly reach the poor, and we know that it makes many ecclesiastics and powerful people uncomfortable. Others consider him a demagogue and a populist… Reforms do not always appeal to all, because they take us out of our comfort zones or where we have installed ourselves. It is a call to take stock of ourselves if we wish to be reformed, recycled, converted, and discover resistences within ourselves. It is to return to Nazareth, to become a pilgrim, while still living in the same house…
We are following with concern the situation of brothers facing problems in their countries for a variety of reasons: In the Philippines, Central African Republic and Honduras… We are praying for them and their people.
In June I took part with the fraternity of Argentina in their retreat; in October I was with the brothers in Chile. These Latin brothers are “bravos” and fighters. They are prepared to collaborate with hope and joy in the preparation of the next Panamerican Assembly, due to take place, perhaps, in 2015. In January 2014 I will meet the Mexican fraternity in their annual retreat, and this will be an interesting moment to strengthen our bonds as brothers. The Italian fraterntiy received me as a pilgrim at their assembly in Loreto, Ancona in November, and I was able to share their lived experiences, dreams, concerns: the experience of some older brothers who have been involved from the beginning of the fraternity, and who
represented for me a lesson in humility and wisdom.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼What a suitable moment this Advent to set aside one or more days in the Desert, in an attitude of listening, giving time to the Lord in solitude, awaiting Him, rather than our interior ‘shows’. Giovanni ZANINELLI, a brother of the Italian fraternity, shared this thought of his with me after the Day in the Desert in Loreto, during the gathering: “The silence was a place for God, but I could not hear His voice. I seemed to feel a sense of emptiness in my spirit, but at the same time one of calm and serenity: a sign
of the closeness of God, of being in his presence.
God is probably speaking in this way. When God
does not speak it is because we do not give him a
chance to speak. We fill the whole time with our
petitions and preoccupations. We speak and do
not allow [Him] to speak. Then you recall Samuel’s
little prayer: ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening’.
God does not speak because we do not know how to await and trust in His word”.
The Desert is essential for our interior life and for the life of the fraternity. The Desert and Adoration cause us to grow in friendship with Jesus and with others. A fraternity of friend-brothers is a small cenacle where we meet not only to pray but also to review our lives and allow others read our hearts as a contemplative moment.
The last weekend of November we celebrated the meeting of the Charles de FOUCAULD Family of Andalucía and Murcia, in Spain and Marc HAYET, who was prior of the Little Brothers of Jesus, accompanied us with the theme, “To make oneself small in order to make oneself a brother“. The experience of the fraternities, meeting different people, the prayer-sharing, the celebration and the word, and listening to Marc, helped us to deepen the
spirituality, the message, the options and the future vision of Brother Charles. The testimony of a Muslim workmate especially left an impression on us: “If I wish to forgive, I must change all my interior rules”. That’s that…
A Holy Advent full of vitality to all! A joyful and fraternal Christmas to all! May our lives make others happy. This is my hearts desire that goes with a hug for each one of you.
Aurelio SANZ BAEZA, brother responsible Perín, Cartagena, Murcia, Spain, 26th November 2013
(Translation of Liam Ó CUÍV; thank you, Liam)
FRATERNIDAD SACERDOTAL IESUS CARITAS MÉXICO
un millón de gracias por haberme acogido en estos días pasados, donde hemos compartido en Cuernavaca un tiempo y un espacio de verdadera fraternidad. Gracias porque van creciendo por dentro, por las tareas de pacificación en los lugares pastorales, por el estilo de vivir en equipo allí donde están, por todo lo que me han enseñado para ser yo mejor persona. Me han proporcionado mucha alegría y ganas de servir a la fraternidad en todo el mundo como un hermano a la escucha que aprende de sus hermanos. Siempre aprendemos de los demás, los hombres y mujeres, los jóvenes y los niños de nuestras comunidades y grupos, pero en el terreno de la fraternidad, en el día a
día de cada uno, descubro llamadas del Señor y ánimos nuevos.
Recuerdo y llevo un eco importante en el corazón de todo lo vivido en profundidad. Cada vida es un
mensaje de Buena Noticia. Cada persona, un reflejo del amor de Dios manifestado en Jesús. Sin desmerecer a todos los hermanos, para mí ha sido un regalo inconmensurable del Señor conocer en México DF a Margarita ROJAS y a su nieto Othón, de quienes tenía hace tres años el deseo de conocerlos y abrazarlos. En esta gente sencilla se muestra el verdadero rostro de Dios, la llama en el Sinaí, el susurro del paso del Señor. Gracias a Nacho, a las hermanitas de Jesús, la hallamos
y gozamos de un encuentro impresionante.
Quiero animarles a ir pensando en el Mes de Nazaret. Cuándo, dónde, cómo, ustedes mismos deben hacerlo, son autónomos como fraternidad mexicana, y siempre los demás estaremos dispuestos a ayudar en lo que sea preciso. Asimismo, la I Asamblea Panamericana será un momento importante para las fraternidades de América. Espero que durante el mes de marzo haya propuestas concretas y un mínimo de organización. No sólo se trata del lugar, sino también de los temas a tratar, ya que las asambleas continentales tienen el esquema de encuentro de fraternidad: oración, adoración, día de desierto, revisión de vida, trabajo en grupos y en asamblea y, esto es muy importante, fin de semana en parroquias de los hermanos, compartiendo con la gente y las
Quedé muy impresionado por el ambiente de silencio en la jornada dedicada al desierto, antes de salir a Zempoala y durante la estancia allí. Los testimonios posteriores fueron realmente pura vida y expresión de lo que pasa en el corazón cuando éste se abre al Señor y deja que él lo llene. Dejarnos llenar del pensamiento de Dios… ser el receptor de su voz a través de lo inesperado… no perder nunca nuestra capacidad de
Echo de menos los campanazos de Polo y el gallo de la alarma en el celular de Álex… Las tortillas de Oaxaca, la nieve en Cuernavaca, la piedra volcánica donde se lee el mundo, donde palpita la historia de un planeta de tres mil quinientos años de antigüedad. Echo de menos a cada uno y lo intento
situar junto a Jesús, con su trabajo y su lucha, con sus esperanzas y decepciones; desde el propio ser humano que somos cada uno, sin que aún nos hayan crecido alas de angelito, como en las pinturas de la catedral de Cuernavaca. Somos cuerpo y no sólo una cara.
Gracias, hermanos, y gracias especialmente a Nacho, que se desvive por todos, que nos trata mejor que a un hijo, que vive la fraternidad desde su esfuerzo y constancia.
En la celebración y en la adoración les tengo presentes y saboreo la huella que han dejado en mi vida en construcción. De verdad que son un regalo del Señor y me han aportado mucho.
El equipo internacional y yo contamos con ustedes.
Un gran abrazo a la mexicana (mano-abrazo-mano) y miles más a la española de todo corazón.
Aurelio SANZ BAEZA, hermano responsable
Perín, Cartagena, Murcia, España, 26 de enero de 2014
LETTER FROM BROTHER RESPONSIBLE NOVEMBER 2012
In the Paris Assembly the brothers present elected me as the Brother Reponsible for six years, and I now wish to place myself at your service with fraternal love and good will for the good of all, assisted by the the International Team made up of Emmanuel ASI from Pakistan, Jean François BERJONNEAU, from France – who will be the ‘Assistant General’, Mark MERTES, from the United States – responsible for economic affairs-, Félix RAJAONARIVELO, from Madagascar, and Mauricio da SILVA, from Brazil. They are chosen from the four continents where the Fraternity is present and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for having accepted to sail aboard this boat so we can give our very best to the Fraternity.
Thanks also, to the outgoing International Team: Abraham, the international responsible, Eddy, José and Richard. Thank you for your work and dedication.
Allow me to present myself: born in Murcia (Spain), I am a priest of the diocese of Cartagena – Murcia, and I work in a rural parish close to Cartagena, called Perín. I was 57 years of age a few days ago and I have been in ministry for 28 years. I am a member of the Fraternity for 30 years. My faith, my life and my vocation, as well as my social priorities, have grown in the heart of the fraternity, where I have been inspired by my brothers, corrected, accompanied and loved by them. The Fraternity is where what my parents planted in me has grown. The charism of brother Charles has marked me from the beginning of my youth and Nazareth is where I have dreamt, laughed, cried and enjoyed life. Nazareth has given me both time and the timepiece, the rucksack and sandals, the bread and the table, and it is in Nazareth that I learn to listen to and share with people. I am involved in two humanitarian projects in Cartagena in the world of drugaddiction and AIDS and also in Bam (Burkina Faso), places and people who are my life, and to whom I give my heart.
￼￼My desire as I begin this task is, together with the International Team, to be close to the different fraternities and to establish a frequent and fluent communication with all, not to give lessons, but to accompany and listen to them. Continental assemblies are a reality in Asia and in Europe, and we will work to enable them to take place in America and in Africa. These are challenges that emerged during the Paris Assembly and which motivate us to strive to inspire the African and Asian fraternities to live the Gospel and to be Church in the present circumstances, growing as young fraternities. We wish them to know that they are not alone.
The intuitions of brother Charles have generated as style of family which gives space to whoever is searching for Jesus, not just in the sacraments but also in humans beings, especially Jesus favourites. We must be the visible presence of Jesus in our societies, who recognise Jesus not by what we say about him but by how we live, as expressed by brother Charles in his adoration of his Beloved. This family is made up of our fraternities: by our Fraternity as well as the branches born out of his charism. We are invited increasingly to belong to this great family, where we meet brothers and sisters who pray, adore, contemplate, do revision of life, work together, live the desert experience, receive the Word and fight for the rights of those who are in the last place, often in a very committed way, giving their lives. Nazareth is also to be with those who lose their rights for a thousand reasons in so many parts of the world, and we ought not forget those for whom Jesus fought and established his Kingdom. We recall the words of Ecclesiasticus: “The bread of the poor man is his life. Whoever takes his bread is a murderer” (Eccl. 34,21).
We have the means which our Directory offers to live fraternity: adoration, the monthly day in the desert, the fraternity meeting, the Review of Life, the contemplation of the Word, contemplation of the daily and habitual, the Month of Nazareth, being poor with the poor and cultivating their friendship. Let us grow as believers in the God who is close to us and who announces his Advent, already at our door, to us.
May brother Charles, bless us on his anniversary this coming 1st December.
￼￼￼A brotherly embrace,
Perín, 27 November, 2012
Aurelio SANZ BAEZA
Priestly Fraternity Jesus Caritas
LETTER FROM PARIS
of the International Assembly from 6th to 21st November 2012
Having just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, at the beginning of the Year of Faith, 47 brothers from 28 countries and four continents assembled at the Foyer de Charité in Poissy near Paris. Among us were two older brothers, Mariano Puga and Jacques Midy, members of the Fraternity for over 50 years. The delegate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was unable to get a travel visa and the Canadian delegate had to leave the meeting early because of his brother’s sudden death.
The choice of France as host country evoked the memory of Blessed Charles de Foucauld as did some significant places connected with his life: the Church of St. Augustine where his conversion in 1886 followed his meeting with Abbé Huvelin and the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur at Montmartre where he spent a night in adoration with Louis Massignon. France is also the cradle of our priestly fratenity, founded in the early 1950’s and also of other branches of the Foucauldian spiritual family such as Little Sisters of Jesus or Little Sisters of the Gospel who shared personal testimonies at our Assembly.
In conferences we learned about French society and about the place of the Catholic Church in France today. Visits to parishes and to particular places of pastoral activity allowed us grasp the reality of a living Church in secularized surroundings. Liturgical prayer, daily adoration, celebration of the Eucharist, and our Day in the Desert gave the Assembly a spiritual and fraternal atmosphere. Besides, the conviviality, the sharings and common meals supported that climate.
After having heard the echoes of different world regions, we felt in a powerful way how faith is ‘in genesis’ engendering a new way of being Church and helping our fraternities by calling and giving new orientations.
1. Echoes of World Regions
The different reports of various countries and continents enriched us. They allowed us to connect with each other and to have a sense of our complementarity. They created a mutual respect for the different realities of our lives and a humble awareness of the multiple challenges which face us.
The African fraternities are affected by political instability, economic weakness and social insecurity. Our presence as priests sharing the life of the people is often considered as a calming influence that gives them confidence. The long distances, the poor state of roads and the scarcity of financial and material resources that affect African fraternities make communications and meetings less frequent. Far from this being a source of discouragement to the fraternities these particular difficulties seem rather to empower them . The fraternities continue to deepen their own identity and grow in number by welcoming new young priests.
Europe and North America enjoy a certain material prosperity, but at the same time are experiencing a deep economic crisis affecting the stability of many families and causing a feeling of great insecurity. There are many fraternities, but like the clergy in general, they are ageing due to a lack of young priests.
Latin America is experiencing a certain economic growth, but also an increasing social insecurity in a religious context marked by different evangelical currents. Linked with other branches of our spiritual family, the fraternities enjoy a great deal of support and are growing.
Asia has a rapidly growing economy. It is also a continent of great religions, like Islam and Hinduism. The Church is in the minority but fraternities are attracting young priests. Inter-religious dialogue is developing and preserving the identity of the Christian faith.
2. Proclaiming the Faith
Depending on the different places in the world and different faith situations, the proclamation of the faith has to be presented in different ways.
In the first place, faith takes the form of courage to live and exist. In the various stages of personal and common life, faith is a matter of believing that life keeps its promise. That elementary form of faith meets the universality of the Gospel since all human beings face the same challenge: to believe that life is worth living. Faced with all sorts of evil, which strike at humanity, we announce the Good News of radical goodness. Together with Jesus in announcing the Good News, we believe that evil does not have the last word. That is also a condition to enable faith and the freedom to trust people so that faith may be born in them.
In fact, Jesus of Nazareth, his way of being and living is the example to present the Gospel to all human beings. Jesus always said what he thought and did what he said. He expressed his compassion through his actions and always put himself in the place of the other while being true to himself in actions that gave expression to his compassion and he went to extremes in facing his opponents. Making the gospel humanly plausible, Jesus freely gave up his own life. This is echoed in the life and destiny of Brother Charles who sought to imitate Him in his own life and death.
This imitation of the life of Jesus in closeness and hospitality, engenders a Church always ‘in genesis’. The Church is born where faith is sown. In basic encounters, in hospitality and in welcoming attitudes, the figure of the disciple is revealed. Rereading the Scriptures the disciple, who can be one of us, gives a visible dimension to the faith and this connects the sacraments with Jesus’ messianic signs. Even a poor and small community discovers that its lived fraternity crosses the frontiers of time and space. If this community crosses the threshold of contemplation to reach liturgy and adoration, it will be revealed that the Body of Christ is built in it and that it is inserted into the immense people of God, the Church, advancing towards God.
We have now better understood that the responses to the world’s greatest challenges are to be found in the gestures of daily life. If Christian communities are open to the Gospel, they put aside their personal cares and, motived by the Incarnation, witness their solidarity with the weakest of people. Respecting everybody’s individuality, through bonds of friendship and closeness, they live this respect for the other without fear and are open to the universal. These enable hospitality to be a place of God’s self-revelation. God reveals himself in the unknown of the other person whom I meet, and expecially in the encounter with the most marginalized.
While the Church may disappear in some places or areas, it reappears in other places as a community ‘in diaspora’. It cannot fail to be born where faith emerges anew. The Church allows faith to serve the common good. Here we can find the expression of Jesus’ good news for today. He calls us into fraternity. We want to live fraternity in response to his continued calling.
3. Calls to and Directions for our Fraternity
In the International Assembly, we experienced the diversity, differences and originality of representatives coming from different national and regional fraternities and cultures. We have lived with joy our communion and communication in the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth. But what about those who do not know Jesus Christ? And if they do not know him or have not heard him spoken of, how can they take him into their daily life?
Today’s globalisation and its zones of destruction means we can encounter the other as different from ourselves, provoking reactions of welcome, but also of rejection or of fear. So how can we come together?
Today ethical discussions reveal that a great many people have resistance to one another, especially towards those who exercise power. To build a world which may be a home for all, setting out from our own situations without either exclusion or domination of one another, what is our contribution as Fraternity?
Our ideal is to live the absolute of God, the love of Jesus Christ in the manner of Brother Charles, as a fruit of the Spirit, in closeness to and with respect for the other, setting out from littleness, from the ordinary, always in relation to the weakest, the poorest and the most marginalised whom God loves and on behalf of whom he appeals to us.
As diocesan priests we must recognise the reality which is ours in certain countries: we are few, ageing, and may be misunderstood in certain priestly circles and by some young priests. However, we also see huge commitment, self-giving and faithfulness among our brothers in so many parts of the world. Everywhere we feel called to exercise fraternity with all our brother priests.
This demands that we strengthn our community life – in the Review of Life, in listening to and sharing the Word of God, united in Eucharistic Adoration, in the Desert Day and with the simple witness of daily life, wherever the Church has sent and placed us as diocesan priests.
It is important that younger priests get to know us, not in order to gain prestige or reputation, but as a sincere service to the spiritual life of the Church, in fidelity to her and to bishops. That much we owe to the poor.
Elderly brothers belong to our fraternites and are for us witnesses to the mission that they have lived. We need their witness and their support in prayer. We also know that the brothers who have gone before us are still in communion with us.
• To enhance our solidarity and our missionary awareness at a local and international level, as universal brothers especially when today’s culture favours and values individualism causing both isolation and loneliness in so many of our brothers.
• To not become inured to reality but rather to let ourselves both question and be challenged by it starting from the Gospel and the wisdom of the poor. To take the way of Jesus in the exercise of authority as service.
• To be signs of gratuitous and loving welcome towards migrants, refugees and exiles which today’s world system generates, recognising the contribution they offer us more than the difficulties that they cause for us. To recognise all the new forms of slavery which appear, crushing and alienating so many of our brothers causing them to be devoured by the prevailing system which privileges only the few.
• Our great suffering and shame in relation to sexual abuses by some priests has made us more humble and more faithful to God. “Be alert!”
• To mature, to grow and to live life in fraternity – the fact of being alone or isolated ought to be only an exception spurring us on to address this promptly. That is our greatest strength, helping us discern with others what Jesus is calling us to do today. It is the most effective help for affirming our own vocation in the Church and in the world and in our own milieu.
• To give silent witness, with a real presence, by a life of prayer that links faith and life, and daily actions of even simple solidarity, is the most appropriate response to all forms of fundamentalism which obscure the love of God the Father and prevent real and meaningful encounter with respect to our own identity. It is precisely there that we find ourselves with the Risen Christ.
• We are serious about planning the Month of Nazarth so that all brothers of our fraternities may have the possibily of living this experience, in the spirit of Brother Charles, in the intimacy of the love of Jesus Christ who steers our directions and actions, both in fratenal life at the service of the poor and in allowing ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit in solidarity with them.
• Finally, to deepen, and hold regional and continental meetings so as let us get to know and live communion with each other, in the service of the poor, in the manner suggested to us by Brother Charles, in love and faithfulness to Jesus Christ who gives us life, who restores us to our dignity as children of God, and so as brothers bearing responsabilty for each other.
We have elected Aurelio Sanz Baeza of Spain as General Responsible and approved the international team he has chosen for this task: Jean Francois Berjonneau (France); Emmanuel Asi (Pakistan); Félix Rajaonarovelo (Madagascar); Mauricio da Silva (Brazil) and Mark Mertes (USA).
Special thanks were extended to French fraternities for organising the assembly and to the outgoing international team.
In these years when we commemorate Vatican Council II let us remember how much the spirituality of Blessed Charles de Foucauld has inspired several council texts and how much the Foucauldian family, of which we are part, contributes to the birth of the Church of our time spread throughout the world, making itself accessible to all people. Both as witnesses and bearers of the Gospel of goodness, in ever evolving fraternities with the original place of our charism and our vocation, we present this God of love, who became incarnate as a brother to us in Jesus of Nazareth.