Conclusion of the Fraternal General Assembly

E-mail Print

The work of the Fraternal General Assembly in Argentina concluded on January 18, 2010 in Pilar, Buenos Aires. “It is not so important to discover new things as it is to put into practice that which we already know.” The Minister General thus recalled the words he spoke at the beginning of the work, during the homily for the closing Eucharist, the final act of the Fraternal Assembly.

Expressing the sentiments of everyone present, Friar Marco expressed thanks to God for this very rich experience, which will bear much fruit as we return to our daily lives. Above all that was learned, we want to give witness to the encounter with the Lord and the joy of Fraternity that we have shared these days: it is this which we have expressed in the final message, addressed to all the Friars, within which one will find the following:

[…]  With the light of God’s word as guide, this rather intense week united us around the Table of the Lord and in fraternity in order to live an experience of formation rather than invent new theories or programs […] those already present in the documents of the Church and of our Order (“non nova ut sciatis, sed vetera ut faciatis”).

During this weeklong journey, we were inspired by the gospel story of the encounter of the Risen Christ with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  The representation you see above was created by Fr. Marko Rupnik, one of our key presenters who also led us in daily reflections.  His representation of the Emmaus story was chosen as the logo of the Assembly and served as a source of inspiration and meditation for each one of us.  This gospel story itself is a powerful metaphor for the formative journey of every Christian, and certainly of every religious, whether young or old.  It is for this reason that we would like to share with you the highlights of this week with the Emmaus story as guide […]

These days have been a type of Exodus experience in which we allowed ourselves to pass from discussion of abstract concepts about formation to genuine encounters with each other in fraternity, the privileged place in which formation happens.  We have tried to act toward each other not as teachers and superiors but as humble companions, as did Jesus with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  We have tried to move from discussions about the mechanics of formation (qualified personnel, economic factors, etc.) to an honest look at aspects of our lives as friars that need extra effort. In addition, we tried to move beyond discussions of spirituality in general to the challenge to incarnate in our daily lives the values witnessed to by our Seraphic Father Francis and present in our tradition as Friars Minor Conventual (the primacy of God and fraternal life; minority and simplicity; service to the poor and evangelization).  Aware of the challenges that face us, we are also confident that the Lord continues to walk with us and to offer us His grace.

The key to making this exodus is contemplation.  As the dialogue with Jesus shows us, only a contemplative gaze allows us to arrive at the deepest meaning of the Scriptures and not remain captive to the letter alone.  The words themselves do not change, but the contemplative gaze transforms them.  As he walks along with his disciples, Jesus breaks open the words of the prophets so they become the Word of life; the Risen One takes the bread the the two disciples offer him and transforms them into the Body of Christ.  After having contemplated the wonders God is doing in us through the various experiences of ongoing formation throughout the Order, we too want to return to our fraternities as new and renewed men, just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus who returned to Jerusalem without delay.  We proclaim to you no longer as mere hearsay that we have seen the Risen Lord with our own eyes.

Contemplation is this inward gaze that allows us to taste this newness of life even amidst the twists and turns the journey takes, a journey that passes inevitably through dark nights of suffering and death.  We have seen this in recent days in the terrible earthquake that struck the island of Haiti, bringing death and destruction.  Each of us has concrete experiences of dark nights in his own life, and sooner or later, finds himself confronting moments of struggle, spiritual or otherwise. For those who have embraced the spiritual as a way of life, contemplation opens them to experience life more deeply beyond the surface.  Brothers, we want to encourage you continue to approach life with this contemplative gaze, which is the way of authentic sons of “the Most High, Good Lord God”!

Your Brothers at the Fraternal General Assembly.