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San Lorenzo de El Escorial – April and May

11/06/2014: Spain

In our March post we mentioned that our formation course is like gentle and steady rain soaking our lives and slowly turning them into fertile soil that generates life. We would like to share with our brothers and friends how our process has flowed in April and May.

We started the month with a workshop about The New Paradigms directed by Carmen Barba, a lay person who helped us reflect on the great transitions humankind has experienced and become aware of the new paradigms we must assume: a level of awareness full of wonderment and amazement; the grateful memory of our personal story; an experience of God nourished day by day; relationships of friendship and trust; being joyful people with a sense of humor; assuming the most neglected people’s position; appreciating and undertaking the process of personal accompaniment.

Then Father Bonifacio – a Claretian, biblical scholar, and theologian – helped us reflect about the topic of “Jesus in our lives”. His deep theological and creative thinking led us to discuss what the place of Jesus Christ in our lives is. We studied several subjects: the importance of Christian identity conceived as an open-ended process; who is the God of Jesus; and the sense of following the trustful, hopeful and loving Jesus.

Brother Fernando Arriero, Marist, imbued us with biblical spirituality. Within a simple, warm and thorough atmosphere, we reflected on different topics: the Scriptures as a precious channel of God’s Word; the history of humankind and of the Holy Scriptures; biblical inspiration; the Pentateuch; the Bible timeline; the need for inner life when reflecting on the Scriptures; the Psalms; geography of Palestine; the Books of Wisdom; the Prophets; the New Testament; Saint Paul, and the Synoptic Gospels.

Father Vittorio, a Brazilian Jesuit, spoke about “the pedagogy of vocation” and helped us reflect on a number of issues: the relationship between the formator and those in formation; the formation process and its agents; formation as a process of humanization; transparency in the formation process; the nature of constructive relationships, and how to deal with difficult cases and conflicts. We realize that being a formator requires much kindness and wisdom.

Then we spent two weeks with our dear Brothers Emili and Joe (Superior and Vicar General). The most important message we got from them was their closeness and brotherhood, and the overall picture of the Congregation they shared with us. We were glad to spend time with them, knowing that Champagnat was with us. In a coordinated effort, each of them took a week to develop a number of topics: the formator as a person, leader, and spiritual guide; the personal image of God; formators for today’s world; the formation process; dealing with our perceptions; getting to know ourselves; and news from the Congregation.

Our dear Brothers insisted on the importance of spirituality in our Marist life. We meditated, had moments of quiet time, and personal conversations with other brothers.

Finally, we shared two weeks with Brother Patricio Pino, Marist. He facilitated our study of the Marist Heritage, especially regarding Champagnat’s letters and other historical documents. We worked hard studying the letters and several documents from CEPAM (Marist Spiritual Heritage Study Center in Guadalajara, Mexico). We also identified a number of formation key points and, after doing some research about them, we realized that Champagnat’s writings are full of formation references that are most relevant for our mission today.

We are immensely grateful to the people who are helping us in this formation course. Thanks to them, the living waters are closer to us every day. Like the deer longing for flowing streams, we are now heading to the Hermitage. Our English-speaking brothers, who are following the same course in Manziana, will join us there. Together we will spend three weeks living in our Founder’s presence. He will be our formator these days. We will be his Brothers.

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