Sharing Our Prophetic Vision As Religious Brothers... WE'RE STILL HERE + STILL FIGHTING!! - part 1

Last Fri. (June 18th) I travelled up to Leeds for a day's meetings, sharing + fraternity with 12 Brothers from other congregations in Britain + Ireland on the topic of "Sharing Our Prophetic Vision". I am on the 3 Brother working party (a De La Salle Brother, a John Of God Brother and me) that organised the day and in the afternoon I gave a presentation (+ led a discussion) on "Internet + Evangelisation".

This day followed on conveniently from a more high-profile conference in London 2 days earlier for those involved in vocations ministry from both female and male religious congregations and institutes, entitled "Surveying The Catholic Future".

I always find it inspiring and encouraging to meet with Brothers from other congregations (+ of course my own too) who still have that fire for God in their belly, who haven't given up hope in terms of our collective future and who, no matter what their age, lay down their lives for God and his people each and every day.


Brothers together

Some resources from the Leeds meeting. First up, a summary (from a PowerPoint) of Bro. Ben Foy's (De La Salle) presentation in the morning on Sharing Our Prophetic Vision:



Sharing Our Prophetic Vision As Brothers - Br. Ben Foy fsc
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me 
because he has chosen me to bring the Good News to the poor;  
he has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind; 
to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.” 
Lk 4:18-19 (Is 61:1-2)
“This passage of scripture has come true today, as you heard it read.”     
Lk 4:21
Chosen = anointed
Poor = those who know they are in need  
The Good News = Jesus was sent for the poor, not the self-satisfied
******************


“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”

Would we have become Brothers . . .  
Would we be still Brothers . . . 
Would we do what we do as Brothers. . . 
if we didn't KNOW that God’s Spirit was upon us and that we are significant in his eyes?
As humans we NEED to know that we are significant/loved/needed
But we are like Moses, Samuel, Jeremiah, Zachariah, Mary, Bartimaeus...
  • We have searched for and still search to be even more fully aware of this reality
  • We have come to the realisation (not of our doing) that we are loved - through our creation, redemption and empowerment - known through prayer, study, community, ministry 
Sr. Sandra M. Schneiders –  “Why did they stay?”  (2009).  
“Tested in the fire”, “the taproot of our vocation is being face to face with God.”


“He has Chosen me"
  • Anointed = Equipped
  • In Response - we commit ourselves radically by vow to be in relationship with brother Jesus (God/Trinity) with those brothers with whom we live (Community) and with those brothers and sisters whom we serve (Ministry).
Schneiders (2009-2010) “promoting on-going conciliar renewal”; “prophetic ministry is intrinsic to this life-form”; “open communication, mutual respect and co-operation in ministry, prayer”; “no resurrection if unwilling to share passion”
Fr. Timothy Radcliffe:   “call to be humble/follow Jesus/give up power and clericalism”
Br. Sean Sammon SM:   “A New Day Dawning”
 “If you want to be famous – don’t join us! 
. . .  We stand alongside others”


“To bring good news to the poor”
God loves you - and we care for you on God’s behalf so that you can know it too!
Expressed through our various charisms.
Importance of Rediscovering and Sharing our charisms - e.g. Hospitality and John of God Family, Association for Education and Lasallian Family, Edmund Rice Family, Mennaisian Family


“Proclaim liberty to captives”
Setting people free from worthlessness, depression, isolation by hands, words, being with !
 Abbot Christopher Jamison - “You (Brothers) hold the pain of people”
Thomas Merton - “From time to time it happens that someone breaks through into God. Others discover that person’s break-through, and they sit with that person and there is formed in that place a community that no-one can destroy because it is not composed of compound things.  It is the presence of God made manifest in the world.”



“Recovery of sight to the blind”

Society: blinded by isolation, materialism, secularism , rat-race
Church: limited vision - danger of sacramentalism, clericalism, institutionalism
Personally: fearful of looking at ourselves, at our qualities, of being really alive, of being all that we are  (Rollo May - Mandela’s inauguration speech – “a gorgeous child of God.”)
Seeing and responding to God personally - everywhere, in everything, in everyday lives, in the good and the hard times (evangelisation, vocation and ministry) 
“Set free the oppressed”
    The exploited, the bullied, the marginalised 
    Haim Ginnott - Between Teacher and Child (1972)
    “I have come to a frightening conclusion.
    I am the decisive element in the classroom.
    It is my personal approach that creates the climate .
    It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
    As a teacher I possess the tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.
    I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
    I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. 
    In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated, and a child humiliated or de-humanised.”
    ***************
    A Transformative Vision of Religious Life - Paul Philibert , OP
    neither Radical - emphasis on cloister, rule and habit  (cf American study)
    nor Cultural - emphasis on relevance, open, involvement in general culture
    But : -
    • a critical engagement of culture by the Gospel
          world as incarnation, 
    Gospel as inspiration
    • holiness as bearers of God’s spirit
          dynamic silence, 
          sensitivity to the interior world through study and recollection
          spiritual hospitality
          spiritual work
    • choosing to live the common life  
    ”genuinely accountable to the group”
    Closed doors
    A need to minister sensitively to those in our congregations, Provinces, communities who have closed their doors (both in practical terms and in inner spiritual terms) to candidates for religious life who might come knocking. These members have given up. No hope for the future (“We are finished!”). 
    Let us help them to re-open their doors, let us help them to rediscover hope and together live fully our consecration.
    “Transforming Religious Life” -  Bro Sean Sammon  SM
    “Orders who survive times of crisis and enter a period of revitalisation:-
    • a transforming response to the signs of the times
    • a re-appropriation of their founding charism                               
    • a profound renewal of the members’ lives of faith, spirituality  and centredness in Christ.” 
    “ It is in this way that the Institute is the memory, the guarantee, the heart and the prophecy of our charism”  
    Following the model of Jesus
    Being prophetic       vs       Being institutional
    (seen as threatening)                                  (safety)
    Sincerity vs Hypocrisy
    Humility   vs   Pride
    Simplicity   vs   Ostentation
    Our Prophetic Witness:
    Community (Association for Mission) Symbol of relationships/of Trinity/solidarity for mission/“brothers of humankind”
    Society of “isolates”/vague cyberspace relationships
    Obedience  Free to do the will of God/to meet the needs of humanity
            Issues of control, secrecy, “do your own thing” 
    Celibacy  Free to love everyone
    Paedophilia, court cases, cover ups, sexualised society
    Poverty Symbol of fraternity and solidarity with the world’s poor/stewardship of creation
    Ambiguity of “Church wealth” in world aware of real poverty, 
    materialism/consumerism/exploitation  
    Commitment/Fidelity   Symbol of  and response to the unwavering love of God
    Divorce/“partnerships : marriage”/change/“instant society”
    Questions:
    How do YOU understand “being brother”
    What are the key factors distinguishing  being brother : being priest : layman? 
    How do you live it out prophetically?
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