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Hearing God's Calls

26/09/2017: Colombia - Photo gallery

Last Monday, the participants of the XXII Marist Brothers General Chapter reached a fundamental part of the U-process. After trying to capture the reality of the world and of the Institute, the Chapter participants now turned their attention to listening to what God wants from the Institute in terms of its identity and what it needs to do. Today was about listening and contemplative silence. Much fewer words!

 

Solidarity with Mexico and Puerto Rico

At the beginning of the morning session, Br José Sánchez, Provincial of Central Mexico shared with the assembly what Br Luis Felipe and he lived during their 3 days visit to Mexico City to assess the impact of the earthquake. Br José was very moved by the solidarity of the people and the witness of Marists assisting with relief of the people affected. Brother Luis Carlos Gutiérrez, Provincial of Central America, also described the difficulties faced by the Marists in Puerto Rico after the passage of Hurricane Maria on the island.

Morning Prayer

Brothers from the United States Provinces animated the morning prayer. The theme of the prayer was praying the "4 directions", common to many indigenous cultures. Brothers and lay people were invited to be in union with the God of the universe, the cosmos and of the earth. The prayer invited everyone to respect the earth, to ask God’s forgiveness, and to call on the Spirit to come and renew the face of the earth.

 

Overview of the process for the coming week

Brother João Carlos do Prado, Secretary of the Chapter, opened the morning session by taking participants through a description of the Chapter's journey, highlighting how this will unfold in the coming week. From today until Wednesday, the Chapter will look at what God wants for the Marists, and what are the key implications of this, both personally and institutionally. These key implications are principles or guidelines for what is envisaged for God desires for building the “New La Valla”. From Thursday to Saturday, the process will move to identifying how the newness that God is planning for the Institute will be born; "letting come". This is the point where work will be done on the key themes or fundamental elements for Marist life: e.g. Government; Lay Marists, Children's rights, etc.

 

In silence hearing God calls

Tuesday’s program was divided into two moments. The entire morning was given over as a time of retreat, of deep silence, of personal dialogue with God, listening for what the Spirit is saying. During the afternoon the participants came together to share the insights from the time of silence.

 

In orienting the time of contemplative silence, Matthieu, the facilitator, reminded participants that for sincere dialogue to take place, it is necessary to leave aside one's expectations to make room for the new. Participants were encouraged to try and choose new words, leaving aside all the concepts that they might normally use, such as "La Valla", "colleges", "Montagne", "mission", "charisma", etc., since it is likely that for a new beginning to occur, a new vocabulary is required.

 

Afternoon session

The afternoon session began with the participants seated in a great circle. After the Marian prayer, the group shared together the fruit of the morning’s contemplation. Each person wrote on a sheet of paper key words related to the focus questions of the morning. The central space in the middle of the circle was gradually filled with contributions, beginning with the young Brothers, followed by the lay people and then the remaining Brothers.

These calls were sorted according to themes. About 13 themes emerged: e.g. mission among the poor; centrality of Jesus Christ; relationship of brothers and lay; authenticity; transformation; fraternity; global community; formation etc.

These themes represent the calls that Chapter participants have heard as God’s calls for the Institute.

The day’s work concluded with each participant saying one word that best described what he or she felt after living the afternoon’s process. Frequently repeated words were "search" and "hope."

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