The process of the RM and the discernment continue...
As Institute, we have travelled through another stage of the Ratio Missionis. After the journey done in communities, the provincial and continental reports and the final synthesis prepared by the Commission of the RM last September, we have the feeling of having covered an important trek of our process.
All the reports of the second stage of discernment are fine. The continental synthesis does not take anything away from the provincial one, and the work of the final synthesis does not substitute any of the other reports. We hope that we all, at personal, local and provincial level, continue to deepen the results we have reached, as these actually express many of our deep aspirations and hopes.
The process of the RM and the discernment continue
Many confreres have been asking themselves: And now, what’s next? Have we completed the stage of the community discernment? The community discernment is not over. It will continue during the next months: On the occasion of the work of the Chapter’s Preparatory Commission, during the coming continental meetings of the Chapter Delegates and the work of the Pre-capitular Commission.
During this time we will be discerning about our missionary life and our future: How can we renew ourselves at individual and community level so that we may become more and more coherent and prophetic, saints and authentic? How can we adapt our commitments and structures to the new situations and respond to the present-day challenges? Let us honestly look at what God wants from us and let us try to put it into practice. Let us be bearers of Comboni’s enthusiasm wherever we are and in whatever situation we find ourselves.
All this is very important and we all must feel involved. We desire to be in communion with and accompany in a more direct way the confreres who are preparing the Chapter. The beginning of the Chapter will mark the beginning of the third stage of the process of the RM: The moment to act, namely to take decisions on the proposals.
We constantly ask that the Spirit may enlighten the Capitular Delegates to take appropriate decisions for this present time.
Time of waiting
The time between now and the Chapter, according to the outline of the process of the RM, is a period of waiting. Now we enter into a new stage, one very special, a time of grace for all of us.
How should we go through this period of time? It is a time for interiorising all that we have shared in the communities, praying, taking up again in our hearts all the proposals that have come out from within ourselves.
It is a time of trust, like the unruffled farmer (Mk 4, 26-29), because the Lord is already at work in our hearts. As in the parable, the harvest indeed ripens even if we do not know how and this gives us comfort.
It is a time to be attentive and watchful in order to recognise God’s presence in what happens in the world. It is a time to redouble our efforts to live in fraternity, as in the cenacle, to wait together for the Spirit of the Risen Lord. It is a time to be patient so that God may fill all our time.
Let us look ahead with optimism and the assurance that faith offers us. We are certain that the Lord wants the best for our Institute. Let us, then, be open and welcoming towards the Spirit, the protagonist of our interior life and mission.
We are all invited to deeply experience this time of waiting by following the liturgical journey of the Church. We propose four moments to mark our journey: Advent, Lent, Easter-Pentecost and the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
Each of these moments will be centred on a theme and an icon to guide us in our monthly retreat.
The moments are:
• Advent 2008. Theme: Time of waiting. Icon: The watchman who waits the dawn.
• Lent 2009. Theme: Conversion. Icon: St. Paul.
• Easter-Pentecost 2009. Theme: Communion and Brotherhood. Icon: The Cenacle of Apostles.
• Feast of the Sacred Heart 2009. Theme: Contemplation of the Pierced Heart. Icon: The Pierced Heart of the Good Shepherd.
These prayer encounters will create in us the attitude of attentiveness and listening which we need during this time of hope. They will also help us to grow in our faith and to leave all our interior space for the Lord. At the same time, they will make us feel that we are all walking together towards the Special Chapter 2009, which concerns us all.
May the Lord Jesus and Comboni accompany us in this journey of waiting.
Rome, 10 October 2008
Feast of St. Daniel Comboni
Fr. Teresino Serra, mccj
Ratio Missionis: Reflection for the Advent Retreat
Theme: TIME OF WAITING
Icon for our reflection: The Watchman
The watchman is a person who, from a place that allows him to overview the surroundings, can spot the danger and warn the others. His duty is to awake those who are asleep. If the watchman is asleep, then the people or the community are in great danger. He has to remain awake throughout the night so that no one may perish. He is the one who announces that the night is over and the dawn is coming. The stance and characteristic of the watchman is that of waiting, when it is pitch dark, certain that the dawn will arrive and overcome the night. The patient, silent, vigilant, watchful and trustful waiting that a new day is coming, is the task of the watchman. To be vigilant is the attitude that defines his role. Stillness, interiorisation and discernment are his companions during the long waiting.
This icon, which we propose for our reflection and discernment, intends to be the horizon that defines the attitude that every confrere has to have during the time between now and the General Chapter: like a watchman who, with his eyes turned to the sky, is attentively waiting for the dawn of God for our Institute and the Mission. We too have our sentry boxes or turrets from which to be vigilant and on the look out, so that we may know what the Lord tells us. This we have to communicate to the confreres through personal and community prayer, community retreats, spiritual exercises. It is necessary to underline also that the service of the watchman entails loneliness, boredom, passiveness: feelings which may emerge and make us sidetrack the journey of renewal we have started as an Institute, when we put our trust in Him who makes everything new and is the reason for our hope.
IMAGES AS SYMBOLS FOR OUR PRAYER
Comboni and his Plan
An American indigenous person
BASIC TEXT FOR OUR PRAYER: Psalm 129
GUIDE: Psalm 129 is the prayer of a person who has become aware of his problematic situation and speaks to the Lord in an attitude of penitential and watchful waiting. It is the attitude of a Comboni Missionary who, from the depth of his being, anxiously awaits a renewal and a personal, communitarian and institutional contextualisation. By this attitude of active waiting, we become identified with the figure of the watchman, who in the darkness, besides seeing the stars, awaits for the dawn that announces the new day.
READING: vv. 1-2
SONG: My soul hopes in the Lord
GUIDE: During the first stage (that of “Seeing”) of the journey of the RM, which started from our actual places in the mission and our personal experiences, we “shouted out” our feelings through various means of communication and the reflections (workshops) that were offered to us. Loud or quiet shouts that asked for attention and understanding… which have detected problem areas which allowed us to better understand our situation as persons and as an Institute.
READING: Synthesis of the proposals of discernment, n. 7, 8, 9, 10
READING: vv. 3-4
SONG: Penitential song
GUIDE: The stage of discernment has allowed us to deepen some personal, communitarian and institutional mistakes, placing ourselves in an attitude of seeking reconciliation with God and also among ourselves and with our people. Acknowledgment of our limits, forgiveness, respect and searching for solutions have been the most evident results of this first part of discernment.
READING: Synthesis of discernment n. 14, 39, 72, 96, 122, 153
READING: vv. 5-7
SONG: Invocation, Advent
GUIDE: Now we continue in an attitude inspired by the Advent season, which is not of search, but of interior hope that fills us with confidence that the Lord listens to our voice, so that none of our actions will be lost. For this we gather around Him, placing everything into His hands. He himself will visit us and be present during the preparation of the General Chapter, carry our words and give them back to us, but transformed into life and a joyous journey of conversion of self, of the communities and of the Institute. During this Advent season, we can make ours and repeat together the words of St. Daniel Comboni:
ALL: “Finally our soul is full of the dearest hope that the unity, simplicity and usefulness of the new project… will find an approving echo, support, favour and help in the heart of the Catholics of the entire world, clothed and filled as they are by the spirit of that superhuman charity which embraces the immense vastness of the universe and which our divine Saviour came to bring to the earth… we would be happy to dedicate our limited energies and our whole life to co-operate in the great work…” (S 843-844).
WAITING LIKE OUR PEOPLE WAIT
In our renewal journey we cannot but listen to the voice of the Spirit that reaches us through the peoples where we work as missionaries of the Lord.
On this occasion, we may consider and listen to the Spirit of America through the indigenous guaranì, who are a people on an ongoing exodus, because they dream of “a land with no evil”, a privileged and everlasting place where the soil spontaneously produces its fruits and where death is no longer.
A people on exodus who lives in a certain area, knowing though that it is just a temporary place. Because, no matter how nice it may be, it always has its limits and its evils.
They look for the land with no evil so that they will no longer die. For this, though, it is necessary to go, body and soul, to the place of the ancestors. Immortality is intrinsically tied up with the ancestors.
The search for the land with no evil is intertwined in the guaranì’s daily life, it’s part of their very being. It is a personal and, even more, a collective longing.
Their leader speaks often of the land where there is no evil and keeps alive the hope that it is possible to arrive at such a place, provided one keeps the rules.
The only way to avoid one’s own destruction and being turned into a non-entity is to head towards this land with no evil.
POINTS FOR OUR REFLECTION
1. How does the experience of this indigenous American people enlighten our missionary journey of renewal?
2. We, the Comboni Missionaries, are an Institute in an ongoing exodus or are we an immovable structure?
3. Are we capable of dreaming of a better Institute and of believing that this is possible?
READING OF THE GOSPEL: Mt 24, 42-51, Psalm 129
FINAL PRAYER: Prayer of the Comboni Family, Prayer in Preparation of the General Chapter.