After reviewing the characteristics of the Xaverian Charism presented by each small group, a writing committee drafted an initial description of the Xaverian Charism and presented that to the General Assembly on Friday morning. Participants provided very helpful feedback reagarding the draft. After the Assembly, the writing committee continued to work on the draft. What follows is a description of the Xaverian Charism that is intended to be a "work in process." This description needs to be presented to the brothers, associates and collaborators for further reflection, discussion and revision. There is a 'preamble' that is a general description appropriate for brothers, associates, and collaborators. Following the 'preamble' there is a description of the charism as lived by the Brothers. Descriptions for Xaverian Associates and collaborators will be forthcoming.
Please note that this document, complete with annotated notes, can be downloaded. The link to do that is provided at the end of the posting.
A Description of the Xaverian Charism
(A preamble that captures a general description of the charism for Brothers, Associates, Collaborators)
We Xaverian Brothers, associates, and collaborators are a true religious family, striving to fulfill the spiritual aspirations that Theodore James Ryken had for his Congregation. Following the path of our Founder, we are called to live ordinary lives that give witness to God’s unconditional love. We believe that the Xaverian calling is a way of being put in our place in the world, a place of humility and simplicity, from which we receive the grace to turn toward God, fall in love with God, and put ourselves in God’s service as followers of Jesus Christ. Within each distinctive life choice, we are further invited to attentiveness, simplicity, flexibility and openness to the common, unspectacular flow of everyday life. We unite ourselves to God through an integrated life of both contemplation and service. Through the Xaverian Way we are awakened by the Spirit of God to our own graced potential and freely offer that giftedness in service to the gospel. Through our ministry, in particular among the poor and the marginalized, we work to help others discover their own uniqueness so they, too, may “share the love of God with the world through their own giftedness.” In a spirit of hospitality, we try our utmost to be approachable and available, as true brothers and sisters who welcome others and accompany them in the joys and sorrows of their lives.
A Description of the Charism as lived by the Brothers
As consecrated laymen, we Xaverians freely choose an “ordinary life” without privilege or entitlement where we seek to find God and be formed by the “common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life.” Motivated by the lofty purpose proposed for the Congregation by our Founder, we set as our life direction the non-dichotomized life of Martha and Mary. Like Mary in the presence of Jesus, we choose the “better part” by turning toward and falling in love with God. Like Martha, we are transformed by that love and impelled to place ourselves in humble service to Jesus through our service to others.
We aspire to realize our Founder’s vision of “a band of Brothers who mutually help, encourage, and edify one another, and who work together.” We endeavor to integrate prayer and contemplation with growth in friendship within the community by means of honest and fraternal dialogue. We understand that the “way of perfection” our Founder envisioned for us is a way of continual formation. This takes place for us in our community life as well as through our individual practices of prayer and contemplation. In community we are encouraged to discover our gifts and talents and to affirm the giftedness of our brothers, calling each other to greater service of the Lord. Here we also find the grace and the support to embrace the ascetical practices of poverty, consecrated celibacy and obedience for the sake of the kingdom.
We live in communion with the Roman Catholic Church recognizing that our place in the Church is on the margin, in solidarity and availability among the people, freely renouncing any sense of power or prestige, and witnessing to the ideals of the first gospel community.
We are sent as missionaries to the world to participate in the church’s mission of evangelization. Like Theodore Ryken, we believe that the best way to bring out the giftedness in an individual is through education, but we realize that education takes many forms. We see our way of life as being intimately connected with our mission. We believe that it is through our life of Gospel witness lived in community that we respond to the Spirit’s summons “to manifest God’s care and compassionate love to the people of the world in these times.” We are called to live our mission on the frontiers, whether those frontiers are on the outskirts of society among the poor and marginalized, or at the center among those who are separated and estranged from their own uniqueness. Impassioned with Spirit-driven apostolic zeal, following the example of our patron Francis Xavier, we stand ready to leave the familiar and the comfortable “to go throughout the world to teach all peoples.”
To Download a copy of this document with annotated notes explainging some of the elements of the description, click here: Download A Description of the Xaverian Charism
Please post your comments/thoughts/reflections on these descriptions. In future postings and other communications we will inform the brothers, associates and collaborators about the next steps in our Charism Study Project.