We write to you from Perín, Spain, where we have met to prepare for the World Assembly of the Priestly Fraternity Iesus Caritas in Cebu, Philippines.
We are near Easter, still cold, but in spring.
We have completed the Letter of Convocation for the Assembly, and together with the 56 delegates or responsibles who will take part, all the Iesus Caritas brothers are involved. Taking into account the situation of the life of the world and of the Church, which high-lights the relevance of the spirituality of Charles de FOUCAULD, on the one hand developments in the world: the five continents are increasingly inter-dependent, the great movement of migrants, degradation of the planet is aggravated, the gap between rich and poor is greater, local conflicts with international repercussions (Syria, Yemen…), the god of money with such sway…We see many countries turned in on themselves, with protectionism and at the same time a mistrust of one another.
The development of the life of the Church: Pope Francis looking at this world situation, presents us with the challenges for the Church’s mission. In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, he calls on the whole Church to take up once more a dynamic of evangelization, centred on Christ, and to go out to meet people, particularly the poorest, on the periphery. In Laudato Si, once more, he asks us to mobilise around the figure of Francis of Assisi in order to practise a happy sobriety and solidarity with the most fragile of our world. We see the resistance in our communities and dioceses to this movement of conversion to which we are called by Pope Francis. We, priests in fraternity, disciples of brother Charles, must commit ourselves in this situation motivated by the intuitions of Charles de FOUCAULD: to cry the Gospel with our life, to be the presence of the Gospel in the heart of the world that does not know Christ; the calls to be universal brothers and make possible in our communities a dynamic of going out and of dialogue; called to live the spirituality of Nazareth, namely, poverty, prayer and closeness to the poor. Therefore, not to be a narcissistic Church that gazes only at itself.
At our Assembly in Cebu, Philippines, we will keep present this triple fidelity: to Christ, to Brother Charles, and to Pope Francis. That’s why it is so important that each brother contribute to this meeting, by assiduous prayer asking for the intercession of Charles de FOUCAULD, by the brotherly communion with each other, by the communication of each of our fraternities of all our countries… To that end we have a means of communication which is the website iesuscaritas.org We invite you to send your articles, reflections and news items…
Thank you for all the efforts to prepare well for our World Assembly, working on the Philippine Questionnaire, and for collaborating economically to assist in the journeys of brothers who cannot meet the costs.
In these working days we have shared the lives of many people, pleasant human situations and other more complicated ones. We have lived prayer and the Eucharist interceding for all of you and especially for Gianantonio [Allegri], from Italy, operated on these days for cancer.
May the joy of Easter go out from us from a deep conviction that Jesus is alive in the people and situations that surround us, in the movements of the world in favour of the rights of men and women, and from the so many good hearts that we encounter daily.
Jean-François and Aurelio
Perín, Murcia, Spain, 23 March, 2018
(Thanks so much, dear Liam, for the English translation)
has been a great pleasure to take part in the II Panamerican Assembly of the fraternity in Santo Domingo and to share the life and worries, the hopes and realities of the present brothers and of the absent ones. Together with Mark, as international team, I have felt the spirit of the universality in the life of the fraternity of Charles de FOUCAULD, both in the distances of lives and in the answers to the challenges of our time.
Thank you for everything what one has worked, before and during the assembly. I value the effort of all: the responsibles of every country preparing the answers to the questionnaires, Fernando’s work with the coordination, the Dominican brothers with the preparation of the assembly and to do that we were like in house … Our brother Francisco, archbishop of Santo Domingo, with his hospitality and nearness … Our brother bishop Rafael, with his testimony of loyalty to the fraternity and to the people … Are great the motives for being grateful.
From every person, the brothers, the community of Carmelite sisters and the workers of the house where we were, the work of Raisa, the people that we knew in the parishes and communities, a gift is received. He is the human being who gives us the better thing of yes same. When we go for the life of pilgrims, when we go out of ours “I” to meet “other one”, and our attitude is not to be to the defensive, but of receiving and being received, without judging, without prejudices, one makes possible the fraternity, and one believes this contemplative moment of between the persons, that it is deeper still when some time ago that we have not met. Because of it, the great happiness of finding again brothers and to be fused in the fraternal embrace.
Thanks to Carlos Roberto and Eleuterio for his two so interesting presentations and interpeelers. They have helped us to have a more just opinion, to penetrate into the calls from the Bible and the Laudato si of the pope Francis towards the reality of the world of the migration and of the ecology, into the care of the common house. This has supposed a capture of conscience on the challenges that they present not only in America but in the whole world. Our brother Charkess had this conscience from his trip to Morocco, as scientist, and learned of the simple people how to value what is had, how to value abroad; why his faith, his culture, his color or thought interrogates us, since it is different from us. The message of universal fraternity of Charles de FOUCAULD stays once again in the present, in our pastoral and personal “budgets”.
The times of prayer, in the adoration, in the celebration of the eucharist, I think that they have helped us not to think only, but to be employed at team and to do between all a good work that helps all the brothers of America.
We miss to the brothers of Mexico, but we value his contributions for the questionnaire. We feel near Douglas, in Venezuela, that it is trying to announce the fraternity in his country, contacting priests motivated by Nazareth and the missionary style of the brother Charles .¡Bravo, Douglas! And very much good spirit to the fraternity of Argentina in the preparation of the Month of Nazareth in the next July.
Today I write with the pain and the worry for the terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso. The whole day I am dependent on news. There hurts me much that stuffs itself to any person, and even more to a country that I love so much. I ask for prayers.
And I ask God and his Mother to bless us, that illuminates with his Spirit our lives, our communities, our families. That we can look at Jesus in the adoration with friend’s full confidence, that we listen to the Lord in the desert, with his long silences and waits – them of Him, to the search of us-, that we put our heart in the review of life, as an opened, royal book, not of science fiction or of history, which there are most left those who motivate us in the way of the Gospel.
Aurelio SANZ BAEZA, brother responsible
Perín, Cartagena, Spain, 2 March 2018
II PAN AMERICAN ASSEMBLY – 19 TO 24 FEBRUARY 2018
in a climate of prayer, joy and shared fraternity, national responsibles and delegates from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Haiti, Dominican Republic, United States and Quebec-Acadie have gathered. We thank God and all who have collaborated through their prayers, work and financial contributions so that this meeting would be possible, especially our brothers from the Dominican Republic and also those priests and deacons who covered for us in our parishes.
We reviewed the path of our fraternities the past two years and verified that many of the proposals elaborated in the last assembly were put into practice. We would like to spotlight the celebrations of the centenary of Brother Charles’ second birth realized in all our countries through symposiums, Eucharists, retreats, publications, posters etc. This permitted us to introduce his person and spirituality to many brother priests, deacons, lay persons, religious and seminarians.
During our assembly we focused our attention on two relevant facts in our countries: migration and the mistreatment of our Mother Earth. These are true signs of the times that we want to examine in the light of the Word of God and the social teaching of the Church, especially as given by Pope Francis, and as seen in the spirituality that we have received from Brother Charles de Foucauld. The goal of this communal discernment was to discover the will of God and to more deeply commit ourselves to a true ministry for migrants and a caring for our Common Home.
Listening attentively to the reports from each country we heard that in one way or another we are committed in these two areas, but that we need to do much more because we are dealing with people’s lives, with families, and with vulnerable communities. They are victims of a savage capitalism that destroys without mercy as it worships the god of money.
The two presentations of our brothers Eleuterio Ruiz and Carlos Roberto Dos Santos: “Strangers and Refugees, Reflections on a Challenge of Our time in the Light of the Scripture” and “Biblical and Pope Francis’ Reflections on the Environment” enlightened us.
It has been clear to us that the Lord asks us to “go in search of the most abandoned,” as Brother Charles did in his time, who are in this case migrants who arrive in our countries in situations of great vulnerability. The Word of God is specific: “You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the Lord, am your God.” (Lev 19.34) And Pope Francis shows us a very concrete way to express this love: Welcome, protect, promote and integrate our migrant brothers and sisters.
We have also felt a strong call to care for our Common Home and to make ours the question Francis offers to humanity in his encyclical “Laudato Si”: “What kind of a world do we want to leave for those who will come after us, to children who are growing up?” (160).
We want to reflect more on this theme in our fraternities and with our presbyterates so as to have a prophetic stance; we also want to network with church and civil organizations to protect the environment and preserve the beauty and integrity of creation, which is God’s gift to all humanity. Charles’ non-consumer lifestyle encourages us to live in simplicity, in austerity and in harmony with nature.
During our assembly we visited the communities of a local parish in Santo Domingo. This visit put us in contact with the holy people of God, who, from their poverty show us the urgency of being authentic with the obligations that God has shown us in this assembly, which were taken up in our Desert Day and in the Review of Life which we did in small groups.
We ask the Holy Spirit to make us more faithful each day to the charism of Brother Charles, so that we can share it with many members of the people of God and continue developing a “Church that is poor and for the poor.”
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 24 February 2018
sono stato molto contento di aver condiviso con voi, fratelli della fraternità sacerdotale italiana, e i fratelli di Jesus Caritas di Sassovivo e Limiti, alcuni giorni di ritiro, di assemblea e di vita fraterna nel silenzio, nella preghiera e nel riposo… tutto concorre al bene del mio cuore pieno di gioia per l’accoglienza riservatami da parte di tutti.
Innanzitutto a Roma Andrea MANDONICO mi ha accolto come fratello e mi ha ospitato presso la casa delle Missioni Africane. Poi mi ha accompagnato alla casa di Giovanni, in Salci, con il quale sono andato a Loreto. Anche al rientro Andrea mi ha riaccompagnato all’aeroporto. A Loreto ho incontrato i fratelli italiani: che gioia grande ritornare ad incontrare gente così buona e aver potuto conoscerne altri ancora. I fratelli di Jesus Caritas mi hanno accolto nell’Abazia di Sassovivo come un fratello in più… A Sassovivo sono andato con Francesco e insieme abbiamo visitato nel cimitero di Spello la tomba di Carlo CARRETO. E’ stato un tempo contemplativo che ancora rivive nel mio cuore. Per me tutto è stato un grande dono che non merito.
Ho sofferto per l’assenza di Gianantonio. Con lui ho avuto un ottimo scambio fraterno tutti i giorni attraverso gli strumenti mediatici a disposizione. Ancora mi comunico spesso con lui e accompagno ogni suo momento, il suo Nazaret.
Del ritiro mi porto la testimonianza del nostro fratello vescovo Giuseppe ANFOSSI e dei fratelli più anziani della fraternità che seguono le orme di fratel Carlo de FOUCAULD, come quelle di Gesù, nella vita quotidiana e nel loro instancabile lavoro per il Regno.
Voglio ringraziare Secondo per il suo costante impegno nella fraternità italiana come responsabile in tutti questi anni; grazie, Secondo, per essere così come sei, per la tua trasparenza e servizio generoso, per la tua pazienza e per essere fratello di coloro che pongono fiducia in te. Grazie anche a Gigi TOMA, per aver accettato il servizio alla fraternità come nuovo responsabile dell’Italia. Sono certo che non ti mancherà l’appoggio e l’aiuto di tutti nei prossimi sei anni. In particolare la sfida di organizzare il Mese di Nazaret, un tempo di grazia molto proficuo per i fratelli che vi parteciperanno. Altro impegno assunto è quello di intensificare le relazioni con i sacerdoti dell’Albania, se Dio vuole, sarà tra gli obiettivi in questo spazio di amore fraterno e lavoro gratuito e disinteressato. Avanti con tua dedizione: sai che hai il sostegno della fraternità internazionale.
Nei giorni trascorsi a Loreto ho costato l’importanza e l’attualità del messaggio e del cammino di fratel Carlo. Nel giorno di deserto mi sono sentito pellegrino insieme a voi. Avrei preferito un silenzio completo dalla notte anteriore, ma rispetto il ritmo della maggioranza: siamo preti diocesani e non monaci di clausura. Ma sarebbe bene organizzare un deserto di quasi 24 ore, in cui il silenzio e il non fare nulla ci aiutino a lasciarci incontrare dal Signore.
Mi è piaciuta moltissimo la testimonianza e il servizio dei fratelli diaconi, Michele e Sergio; non solo per i loro servizi nell’eucarestia, ma soprattutto per i loro contributi, la loro vita come padri di famiglia e lavoratori nella vita. Grazie per il vostro grande contributo per il Regno a partire dalla vostra vocazione di cristiani consacrati nella vita matrimoniale e nella Chiesa. La fraternità è sempre aperta a coloro che incontrano nel fratel Carlo un referente per la propria vita, non solo spiritualmente, ma anche nel lavoro e nella propria famiglia. Questo ci arricchisce tutti e ci libera dal clericalismo che a volte ci può convertire in una ‘casta’ speciale tra gli uomini e le donne delle nostre parrocchie e comunità.
Il mio incontro a Limiti e Sassovivo con i fratelli di Jesus Caritas, con una accoglienza fraterna e familiare, mi ha permesso di conoscere questa congregazione dal di dentro. Fino a questo momento conoscevo soltanto Piero e Giovanni Marco; ora ho avuto l’opportunità di passare un pò di tempo con Giancarlo, Leonardo, Wilfried, Paolo Maria e Jhonatan. Mi hanno accolto come uno di famiglia e ho avuto la possibilità di pregare con loro, celebrare nella parrocchia di Limiti l’eucaristia domenicale con Piero. Avevo un grandissimo desiderio di tornare ad incontrarlo. E’ stata una grande gioia per lui e specialmente per me. Ho potuto dedicare molto tempo alla preghiera nell’Abbadia di Sassovivo e contemplare la bellezza della montagna che la circonda. Come con i fratelli della fraternità italiana così anche con questi fratelli di Jesus Caritas ho assaporato Nazaret e lo stile missionario e di servizio alla Chiesa sulle tracce di Carlo de FOUCAULD. Grazie a tutti di cuore. Grazie perchè so che in tanta gente c’è tanto amore che mi fa sentire figlio di Dio e fratello di tutti.
Aurelio SANZ BAEZA, fratello responsabile
Perín, Cartagena, Spagna, 10 diciembre 2017,
seconda domenica d’Avvento e festa della Madonna di Loreto
(E grazie, caro Mario MORICONI, per la traduzione italiana)
Advent over the next four Sundays draws us closer to little, fragile Jesus. This Jesus who is born in the hope of many people for a better, more humane world, where men and women can enjoy their rights. A world in need of dialogue, and equality. Pope Francis in his messages encourages us to leave oppressive structures, both inside and outside of the Church, and to open ourselves to the message of Jesus become man in different cultural and social ways.
Brother Charles, whose feast we celebrate on 1st December, 101 years after his death, is one of our references to open us from Nazareth to the world, faced with a long list of injustices which are kept up from the interests of the powerful. The mafias behind drug and human trafficking, the nuclear threat, political fundamentalism, the causes of climate change, terrorism… and so many Christmas counter-decorations that embarrass us, but are still present in everyday life. When information and consciences are manipulated, when one attempts to gain power, money and deceive people at the cost of human lives… I think we all know to say no to all that, but our mission includes helping others to be consistent with faith and the Gospel. May our prayer, pastoral activity and mission, born of love for the Lord and our neighbour, as Charles de FOUCAULD inspires us, be aligned to work for the Kingdom this Advent, where the poor teach us to share what is small and insignificant.
We have experienced with sadness the loss of Felix RAJAONARIVELO, our brother from Madagascar, Howie CALKINS, from the United States, -whom we have mentioned on the pages of iesuscaritas.org- and Dominic, from Myanmar. Other brothers have also died. They have all taught us by their faithfulness to the Gospel and to the fraternity that to be a follower of Jesus is worthwhile.
With the death of Felix, a member of the international team and African responsible, the team designated Honoré SAWADOGO, from Burkina Faso, to assume his place and responsibility. We will welcome him at our next meeting as a team in Bangalore, India, in January 2018, preparing the General Assembly of January 2019. Honoré, Jean-François, Mark, Emmanuel, Mauricio and I will work with enthusiasm to make possible an assembly where all the brothers throughout the world will be represented, with their concerns, the realities of their fraternities, calls to be faithful to our choice for the path of Jesus as missionaries and diocesan priests, following the charism of brother Charles. I am still awaiting from some countries their response to the questionnaire before the Assembly. The questionnaire is permanently to be seen on our internet page. Thank you. This will make our work easier in Bangalore.
In April I lived with great joy our meeting of responsibles and delegates of the Spiritual Family of Charles de FOUCAULD in Aachen, Germany. We shared the reality of being brothers and sisters marked by a Church style in communion with Pope Francis, with the difficulties of being imperfect human beings, but open to personal and communal change faced with the challenges of our societies, with the problems of people, with the joy of knowing that we are not alone in this mission. We feel and are family, and our priestly fraternity shares in many places of the world the life and closeness of the other fraternities in the charism of brother Charles.
The fraternity of Argentina held in June its annual retreat. I had the joy of taking part in it and sharing with many brothers on their pastoral life, the depth of their lives and their commitment to their people and to their communities. I only have words of gratitude for all that the Lord is doing through these brothers and the closeness and brotherliness with which they treated me. José María BALIÑA, auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, helped us share deeply by means of the Word of God on our lives and mission. (See the Letter of Aurelio to the fraternity of Argentina, on our website, archives of August 2017)
The fraternities of the United States also held their assembly in July in Camarillo, California. Our brother, Fernando TAPIA, Pan-American responsible, facilitated the meeting. Jerry RAGAN, our dear “Hap”, was reelected as national responsible. (Letter from Camarillo, in August 2017, on our website). One notes with great joy the closeness of the different fraternities of all America, especially in the preparation that is being done for the II Pan-American Assembly, in February 2018, in the Dominican Republic, with the coordination of Fernando and the Caribbean brothers, Mártires and Abraham. The new fraternity of Haiti will be present. Welcome, Jonas and Haitian brothers.
Our Mexican brothers held their first ever Month of Nazareth in July and August, also guided by Fernando, close to Puebla. The experience has been a seed of true fraternity in this country where the fraternity is growing and is being enriched by brothers who are very socially and pastorally committed to the people. The work of Nacho, previous responsible, his tireless dedication to the fraternity, and now the work of José RENTERÍA is appreciated. Thank you for being as you are. One can read an extensive pdf with a report of the Month of Nazareth also on our web page.
In July we held our European Assembly of the fraternity in Rudy, Poland. In the Letter from Rudy you have a broad resumé of the contributions of the fraternities of Europe, the result of our work coordinated by John McEVOY, from Ireland, our European responsible, and the Polish brothers especially Andrzej ANDERWALD and Rafał who went to great lengths to host us, warmly welcome us and offered us in parishes at the weekend their hospitality and contact with the people. We elected Kuno KOHN, from Germany, as new European responsible, until the next Assembly in England in 2020. Many calls come to us faced with a European Church that is ageing, in a society that is daily more godless and secular, with a changing demography reliant upon a great number of immigrants and refugees. These should not remain outside our mission.
Our brother Jean-Michel BORTHEIRIE led the retreat of the fraternity of Chad, in Bakara, in the month of August, and with great joy he shared this African experience of fraternity with me. He is a good connoisseur of the African scene very well from his missionary work on the continent. The fraternity of Chad is growing and Corentin AGDE is striving to coordinate the meetings as the responsible with great difficulties because of the distances as happens in many countries where brothers must to travel many hours to meet. Thanks, because this effort makes the fraternity possible.
The Spanish fraternity had our summer retreat the last week of August, in Galapagar, Madrid, with the contributions of our brother Mateo CLARES along the lines of the spirituality and mission of Charles de FOUCAULD. The Adoration, the Review of Life, the Desert and an evening assembly, coordinated by our responsible, Leonardo, tempered our hearts and helped us to go deeply into our lives.
The Chilean brothers have held their retreat and assembly these last few days, led by Matías VALENZUELA, a Sacred Hearts missionary, specialist in themes related to Charles de FOUCAULD. What a joy to see our Mariano PUGA again in this family photo! He and other “historic” brothers whose years and experience give us a living testimony of following Jesus as pastors and missionaries, reflecting by their lives that God loves them and that they do everything for Him.
This last week in Pakistan the Asian Week of Spirituality, centred on the message of Charles de FOUCAULD, took place with the participation of brothers of nearly all the Asian fraternities and with the coordination of Arthur CHARLES, Asian responsible and Emmanuel ASI of our international team. I hope soon to be able to give a resumé of information from them on our fraternity website.
Today I travel to Italy to take part in the retreat and assembly of the Italian brothers in Loreto. Secondo MARTIN is completing his term as responsible and a new brother must be chosen. We will have ever present in our hearts Giuseppe COLAVERO, a great warrior for the fraternity and for the most abandoned. Also, Giovanni, the old brother loved by all.
Let us keep in prayer our sick brothers. I think especially of Aquileo, from Mexico, who is due to be operated on following an accident; of Gianantonio, from Italy; of some of the Spanish brothers who are closest, with their health problems. They are the presence of Jesus, who was always alongside the suffering. Our prayer is also with the brothers in countries of political instability and insecurity, terrorism, organised crime, etc. With them and on behalf of their people may we pray that Jesus be born in those humans who do not have the means we have for living. This is one of the intentions we can have as a fraternity this Advent.
Forgive this long Letter for Advent, that looks like a family album and news-sheet. I do it with affection that we may get to know the faces of our brothers across the world, their joys, their concerns.
A good Advent to all with the hope that the work here or there, on the missions, in neighbourhoods, hospitals, prisons, parishes, manual labour, those excluded by reason of their condition, may be all for the glory of God and to build a world of brothers.
Aurelio SANZ BAEZA, brother responsible
Perín, Cartagena, Murcia, Spain, 19 November 2017,
World Day of the Poor, promoted by our Pope Francis.
(Thanks so much, dear Liam, for the English translation)
LETTER FROM RUDY, MESSAGE OF THE JESUS CARITAS PRIESTS’ FRATERNITY FROM THE EUROPEAN ASSEMBLY OF RUDY,
Poland, from 12 to 19 July 2017.
“Czes’c” (pronounced “Chech’tch”): by this Polish greeting we come to meet with you, fraternities of Europe, and send you this message, fruit of our work but also of our prayer. Thanks to our caring hosts and to the meetings they organized for us in various parishes, we have come closer to the realities of their country and of their Church and have let the theme of our assembly echo around: “Diocesan priests and missionaries, inspired by the testimony of Charles de Foucauld. “
IN THE EUROPEAN CONTEXT OF SECULARIZATION
The gospel of the second day of the assembly, offered by the liturgy, sets the tone of our message: “Behold, I send you as sheep among wolves … be cunning as serpents and innocent as doves … (Mt 10,16)
Each of our countries, at various speeds, observes the phenomenon of secularization: a reduction in church attendance, evolutions of mentioned values, civil laws distancing themselves from the Christian tradition … In a nutshell religion is not popular. Communities and priests are engaged in this movement and must make a decision: accept or refuse it? Compromise or compromise themselves? The status of the priest suffers from this: a modified identity, a diminished social standing, a lesser authority … One can understand why young people are hesitant to embark on such an insecure path and to commit for the long term.
As members of the Jesus Caritas Fraternity we are not spared by this secularization, which taints our way of life and our mission; the question is: how to transmit a tradition, a Word in this secularized day? Charles de Foucauld went far away; but today the mission begins at the front door of our neighbour.
The cunning of the serpent and the Innocence of the dove are necessary to carry out the mission and to make one’s way through listening, study and work: “to make a dictionary”. To take into account the actual culture demands time and we do not have not much time.
DIOCESAN PRIESTS IN A MISSIONARY CHURCH
Our exchanges have shown that in most of our countries the development of secularization, consumerism and individualism made evangelisation both difficult and necessary and that many initiatives were appearing to give back its rightful place to the Word of God, to a more fraternal parish life and to the care of the “peripheries”. Recognizing and promoting the role of the laity in evangelization is a necessity.
In some dioceses, the bishops have encouraged the formation of groups whose first task is to promote the training of the baptized by deepening their understanding of the faith and their spiritual life. In the long run, these evangelisation groups will be able to focus on the aim of reaching a larger community, especially those of other faiths, not primarily to convert them but to promote mutual understanding and acceptance, as well as to communicate the joy of the Gospel.
As a result of the lack of priests, priests from Africa and India come to many of our dioceses to work for evangelization. With good support to help them understand the culture that welcomes them, their presence can be a great blessing for the Church, in places where the congregations are already multicultural.
This lack of priests also leads to the regrouping of parishes, which offers the laity the opportunity to take greater responsibilities in the field of evangelization as well as in the various services. But an effort has to be made to better identify the talents of one and all and to know how best to value them.
Many successful paths have been taken with young people in the dioceses, such as the World Youth Day or other initiatives. It is undoubtedly worthwhile to devote energy and time to the formation of young people, helping them to find ways to resist the pressure of consumerism. But this must not make us forget the need to train adults and give them more autonomy.
We are always aware that evangelization does not occur first in our churches but in public places. Examples have been shared of initiatives in shopping malls or other public places, seeking to reach a wider audience. The various interventions of our assembly have developed the conviction that priests need to give a sense of responsibility to the lay faithful in the work of evangelization, to accompany them and to collaborate with them. In the same way, priests and lay people evangelize more effectively when the joy of the Gospel shows through in their own lives.
INSPIRED BY THE TESTIMONY OF BROTHER CHARLES
The evangelical radicalism of Charles de Foucauld, drawn from contemplative prayer and adoration, his choice of poverty and his desire to be like Jesus in Nazareth, put us in front of the “weakness of God ” and lead us to the cast off all pastoral pretensions.
The testimony of Fr. Charles helps us to be priests
– who learn to go back to the Gospel to fill themselves with the spirit of Jesus
– who choose the simple life going as far as poverty to first show the “work” of the grain of wheat fallen to the ground (cf Jn 12:24): the true success of God is revealed in His utter poverty. Hence the invitation to go to “existential peripheries”, to show solidarity with the poor, to get closer to the humble and the crucified in History. Universal brotherhood has its root in obedience to God the Father and to the poor brethren who reveal Jesus to us; the poor is a true “theological place” of the closeness of God and leads to adoration.
– who learn to listen: first to Jesus who speaks to us in the Gospel, in the Eucharist and in the silence of the desert, but also to every man, in order to be evangelized by the encounter of a humanity already marked by the presence of the Spirit. We can be converted in this sense by the icon of the Visitation. Listening to others and their lives requires patience in the reciprocal gift of a human and friendly presence. The time given to listening and to the friendly meeting is an important and precious time to clear the ground before sowing the seed of the Gospel. With such an attitude we can play, now and in the future, a significant role in meeting and having a dialogue with our Muslim brothers, who are present in most of our countries.
– who undertake to live a priestly fraternity as a providential place to discover the will of God (revision of life) and to help them live a discreet apostolate, stripped of all external means, trusting entirely in Jesus; and to welcome the last place, the one Jesus would have chosen.
FACED WITH THE RARITY OF VOCATIONS
In the majority of our European countries, the decline in the number of candidates to the priesthood is very important. The general context of secularization explains it, as well as a culture of immediacy: freedom without commitment, autonomy without responsibility, lack of silence. We notice, however, that many young people show great acts of generosity.
Our response to encouraging the welcomed acceptance of the call of God is through the testimony of our own life as a priest: what place does it give to silence, to the desert? Does it know how to keep in touch with the young to listen and accompany them?
Communities that truly live from the presence of the Risen Lord are the best ground for vocations and the example of the Blessed Charles de Foucauld, whose life was fruitful in the long term, is an encouragement.
CALLS FOR A SIMPLE LIFE
The encyclical of Pope Francis Laudato si needs to be implemented. Faced with the temptation to consume and accumulate, an education to learn to share remains to be done. To show solidarity, you must be sober! For us priests, it is a question of leading a life not poor, but simple, which will make us accessible to all. Laudato si invites us to a “happy sobriety” and encourages the good actions: recycling; sorting; saving water, energy and raw materials; favouring public transport; investing in fair trade … But the encyclical seeks most of all to promote “integral ecology”, which gives priority to the interests of the “common house”. In this sense, the current crisis of caring for refugees challenges us and cannot leave us inactive.
Our European Assembly also had the responsibility to elect a new Responsible for 6 years: Kuno KOHN, from Hamburg, Germany, was elected and accepted the assignment. We want to thank him, as well as John McEVOY (of Ireland) who held this responsibility for the past 6 years. Our next Assembly, in 2020, will be held in England.