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Brother Henri Vergès and Consecrated Life

08/05/2015: General House

Brother Henri Vergès was killed in Argelia on 8 May 1994 alongside Sister Paul-Hélène, in his office at the library in the street Ben Cheneb in Algiers. Twenty-one years after his death, let us re-read some of the communication fragments that he had sent to the members of the General Chapter in 1976 on the practice of Gospel advice. These texts can resonate in us as a call and an invitation in this Year of Consecrated Life.

 

Religious poverty in a world struggling for justice

“Through our personal and community poverty, we share the plight of the poor and their active patience, with a view to a better distribution of material and cultural goods.

Because of its religious significance (detachment to the absoluteness of God), we help the Algerian man not to lose the sense of God because of a purely material technical progress; through community development (shared life), we help him build an authentic socialism where the person becomes increasingly responsible for his own development and everyone else’s.”

 

Religious obedience and people responsible for themselves

"In coming to Argelia, we have responded to God’s call. This call can be reconciled with the desire to actively engage in service to the Third World. As with poverty, our obedience is religious and in community. Being attentive to God (contemplation), listening to others (sharing), obeying superiors (charismatic expression of God's will), I learn to choose to follow what is more true, being free.

With humility (= truth), strengthened with God’s faithfulness, we do together what He expects of us, looking at the Kingdom, i.e., the new covenant of God with humanity… MUSLIM means: “subject to God as a free being who knows his limits”. This people, taking responsibility for its own destiny in the world, does the will of God. We join this desire through our availability.”

 

Consecrated life and chastity in a sexually mixed world 

“The Muslim world does not know consecrated chastity.

Being a sign of the love of God and a call to universal love, our vow cannot be understood if the person does not present himself as profoundly free (vow of obedience and poverty).

Then our consecration achieves the desire for deliverance of the partner by a love that is that exchange. Every relationship is sexualized: that of parents and children, that of the educator and the student. But this relationship only frees in the overflow of love.

Therefore, in being respectful and open to others, our vow of chastity, sign of belonging exclusively to God who deserves this gift, an eschatological sign, can be understood by the faithful Muslim.

Our behaviour, marked by this love, should not masquerade us as Superman, but rather as men of God." (cf. the book "From Capcir to the Casbah", pages 50-52).

__________________

Br Alain Delorme

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