By Brother Paul Murray | en français
The Christian Brothers’ Generalate, La Casa De LaSalle, in Rome provided the General Council and the Integration Team with a quiet, contemplative space in an otherwise noisy, hot, and tourist-filled city. We were able to spend hours in shared prayer, personal reflection, and discussions of the reports of the three CORE groups from Kenya, Congo, and the US. These reports were based on what was heard from our members at meetings and interviews held in the spring in each of the regions.
For me, our coming together reinforced the fact that we are Brothers from three different regions with distinct cultures, languages, and worldviews, each with unique challenges. Another difference, I quickly became aware of, was the age disparity. The high energy of the younger Brothers from Kenya and Congo seemed more exuberant than that of us older Americans. Nevertheless, this youthful energy appeared to invigorate all of us.
What affected me most was what we share in common, our vocation to be followers of Christ in the Xaverian tradition. I had the sense that all involved, felt a deep love and responsibility for the Congregation and its transformation. Looking back at the meetings, I sensed a common desire to deepen our relationships, not just regionally but internationally. To me, the meetings revealed the need for us to renew our sense of community as we discern how our call, at this time in our history, can be a gift to the world and the Church in a new way.
After returning to the US with the meetings fresh in my mind, I read a reflection by Pope Francis that he gave to the Resurrectionist Congregation at their Chapter recently in Rome. There were two points that he made that definitely speak to us in light of the process in which we are engaged.
The first was Francis’s warning that “nostalgia for a past rich in vocations and impressive achievements must not prevent us from seeing that the Lord is making things blossom today and the Spirit is urging us to take the risk and move to the periphery, wherever the light of the Gospel needs to be brought.”
Secondly, Francis is asking that we consider making “fraternal life in community a primary form of evangelization. It entails accepting the brothers the Lord has given us: not those whom we choose, but those the Lord has given us. Our Brothers are a gift not to be taken for granted or looked down upon, but a gift to be received with respect, because in our brothers, especially if they are weak and frail, Christ comes to meet us.”
What is becoming clearer to me is that only as one body, one village that is the Congregation, can we take the risks and allow ourselves to be transformed.