1. New life in the Spirit is a gift that we must ask for and welcome. At this “opportune moment” God challenges us and invites us to live mission as an experience of human and spiritual growth. This is the time to allow ourselves to be modelled like clay in the hands of the Potter (cf. Jer. 18:6).
IMMERSED IN A HISTORICAL PROCESS OF GRACE AND BLESSING
2. We Comboni Missionaries, immersed in a story of grace and blessing, hail from different cultures, backgrounds and styles of formation. We live, furthermore, in a globalized world with a multiplicity of religious sensibilities and critical attitudes when faced with traditional religious institutions through which, however, the Lord continues to work.
3. The Ratio Missionis discernment process, in which we have been involved over the past few years, has led us to observe that our spirituality is weak, and that gradually we have assumed an individualistic and comfortable way of life, that does not encourage fraternity but challenges the credibility of our missionary witness. Often our faith remains far from life and the reality of the people. At times we reduce our spirituality to a religious ritualism that does not reach the heart of our missionary life. On the other hand, without practical and regular expression, faith will be extinguished.
4. This same process has demonstrated a strong desire for change and conversion not just in theory but in the depths of our hearts. We feel like “dry land, arid and without water” (Ps. 63:2), with a great thirst that pushes us to return to the original sources in order to face the challenges of our time.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
5. The Spirit who raised in Comboni a love for the people of Africa, continues to guide us towards the poor and the forgotten. It is the same spirit that pushes us to a deep personal and community renewal in love - a gift received and lived as consecration is unveiled and offered in the mission.
6. As Comboni Missionaries we discover in the mystery of the Heart of the Good Shepherd the reason that animates us to total self-giving and pushes us towards the poor and abandoned. In order to live this spirituality we must place at the centre of our lives the Word of God, the life and writings of St. Daniel Comboni, the RL, the tradition of the Institute, the magisterium of the Church and, in a particular way, the mission that brings us to live with the people.
7. The total self-giving that requires us to take on very difficult situations is symbolised by the cross. After the example of Comboni (cf. RL 4), we choose these realities as a sign of a deep love for the people.
BROTHERLY COMMUNITIES OF DISCIPLES AND MISSIONARIES
8. We want to be missionaries open to the action of God in us; missionaries who live meeting the Lord as disciples wholly consecrated to mission, called to live a deep affective and effective relationship with Jesus in order to be witnesses of his love, carrying hope to his people. We identify ourselves with Him, Word and Missionary of the Father, who gave his life for all.
9. We are called to share the dream of God who wants a full and happy life for all humanity. It is he who invites us to be builders of brotherhood, to give ourselves to others as communicators of peace and life, to welcome all and be good news in the midst of the poor.
10. We must walk towards a unity of life between consecration, charism and mission and, as a result, towards a spirituality that generates life and distinguishes itself by authenticity.
11. The Institute continues its journey of return to the essential, a journey that implies for each of us a revision of our relationship with God and a witness of brotherliness. Conversion of the heart requires translation into concrete attitudes.
12. We feel the desire to overcome the tendency to consider spirituality an exclusively personal fact, in order to favour a sharing of the inner life that would allow us to reach a deeper brotherly communion. We will obtain this in the measure in which we accept to put the action of the Spirit at the head of our priorities, determining to consider our lives from the view-point of faith.
13. In order to live our spirituality we feel the importance of being nourished by God and lovers of life:
a. To celebrate the Eucharist, fount and foundation of our missionary spirituality and common brotherly life (cf. RL 39.1, 53);
b. To listen to God who speaks to us through his Word, the reality of the poor, situations of violence and insecurity, the world with its beauty and contradictions;
c. To ensure moments of prayer, of silence and contemplation, at the personal and communitarian level.
14. In view of the process of spiritual renewal, the Chapter makes the following plan of action that, without wishing to be exhaustive, seems to us to be significant:
15. We want to give pride of place to the listening to and study of the Word of God, to the lectio divina, to personal and community prayer. Furthermore, we intend to read and deepen the reality, history and the life of the poor as the place where God the Father shows himself, and where Jesus Christ and the Spirit are to be found.
15.1 Every year continental groups of reflection should offer to the Circumscriptions tools for the analysis of the social, political, economic, religious, ecclesial and Comboni reality in order to help communities and individuals to read the signs of the times, to recognise the values of the Kingdom and the presence of God, and be guided by the Spirit in our discernment and choices.
15.2 Every Circumscription should study how to best utilise this material as a moment of OGF.
16. We insist upon the need to work out a project of life at different levels:
16.1 Personal: each year every confrere should prepare his project of life expressing clearly and simply through specific objectives and concrete forms, his response to the Lord.
16.2 Community: every community should prepare the community project utilising the means already available (e.g. RL, Circumscription Directory, community charter ...), regularly up-dated and contextualised. The superior has the responsibility of encouraging his community to take on this process.
16.3 Provincial: community projects may be shared with the other communities during Circumscription Assemblies, superiors’ meetings and other moments.
16.4 In 2010 the GC should offer guidelines for the preparation of these projects at the various levels, taking into account the different contexts.
17. It is necessary to cultivate greater knowledge of the RL as an instrument of growth for our choices according to the Comboni charism at different levels:
17.1 Personal: every confrere should undertake a fruitful reading of the RL.
17.2 Community: the community should make a continuous reading (of the RL) in view of a shared reflection and according to the times and ways specified in the community charter.
17.3 Provincial: over the next six years every Circumscription should organise retreats or seminars of OGF based on the RL and its relevance today.
17.4 In the first three years of its mandate the GC should choose confreres to whom it might entrust the task of a qualified reflection on the RL in order to familiarize us with it as an instrument of growth in faithfulness to the Comboni charism.
18. Living as brothers is a fundamental and indispensable element of our spiritual growth and missionary service. In order to reach this goal we must dedicate the time and attention required.
19. In the RL (cf. RL 36-45) we find the guidelines that help us build enthusiastic communities able to promote the integral growth of their members and be an authentic witness of evangelization. We thus hold the following to be necessary:
19.1 Periodically local superiors should organise community meetings as significant moments of discernment and OGF.
19.2 Communities should allow for moments of relaxation in order to further interpersonal relationships.
19.3 Members of the community should share plans, projects, material and spiritual goods as part of the spiritual journey.
19.4 The practice of fraternal correction and reconciliation with God and the brothers in a climate of celebration, particularly during the high moments of the liturgical year, are ideal means for evaluating and nurturing our community life.
20. In order to respond to the request of a renewed spirituality, the Chapter proposes that every year a specific theme be developed for the whole Institute in view of a common journey. We suggest the following themes to the GC:
− Word of God, lectio divina, popular reading of the Bible
− Comboni, fount of re-foundation today
− Comboni brotherhood: interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution ...etc ..
− Closeness to the poor as a spiritual journey
− The Heart of Jesus in today’s language
− Comboni prayer today
− The cross as a special time for deepening faith
− The centrality of Christ in life and the Comboni mission
21. These themes may be developed in the form of workshops, retreats or formation courses but should take into account local continental and Circumscription contexts.
22. Discernment, which may take a variety of forms, may be understood as a personal and communitarian tool, enlightened by faith, and favouring the union of the Word of God and reality; this comes about in particular during moments of decision at community councils and assemblies of various kinds.
23. An annual eight day retreat is recommended in order to have adequate time for silence and meditation.
24. Spiritual accompaniment and OGF are indispensable means to personal maturity and for guaranteeing a better service to the mission. The local superior, assisted by the Circumscription coordinator for OGF, helps the confreres find someone suitable for this service.
25. Celebration is essential to the process of spiritual renewal. Every community, every Circumscription and the whole Institute should therefore give proper importance to the significant events of the Institute itself, of the Church and of the people among whom we live. Comboni feasts, anniversaries, birthdays and all events in the life of the community are occasions for brotherly sharing.
26. Intercapitular, continental, and Circumscription assemblies constitute an opportune moment for evaluating the decisions taken at different levels. Community councils are in their turn occasions for an evaluation of the community project in general and of the lives of individual members of the community.
27. Visits to the Circumscriptions by the GD and to the communities by the PS are also appropriate moments in which to evaluate the fulfilment of the Circumscription and community plan.