MESSAGE OF THE GENERAL CHAPTER 2013 TO ALL THE BROTHERS OF THE ORDER
As we come to the end of the 184th General Chapter of the Order, gathered in Rome, we want to send to all of you fraternal greetings and to communicate to you the fruits of our work in the Chapter sessions.
During these weeks we, your brothers, gathered from 50 circumscriptions and 32 countries. We have prayed together, we have exchanged ideas and concerns and, of course, we have also discussed problems and shared diverse opinions. We give thanks to God for this opportunity for prayer, fraternal meetings and work, and for having become aware of the strength and depth of the ties that bind us, by having experienced a diversity that enriches us.
The work of the Chapter focused largely on a theme that is well known to all: “The Unity of the Order in the Service of the Gospel”. The Intermediate General Chapter of 2010 produced that document and, along its same lines, most of the sessions of this Chapter were devoted to seeking solutions to various problems that the Order faces throughout the world.
This document invited us to read once again the first chapter of our Constitutions. In it we are reminded that our identity as an Order comes from four constitutive sources: the monastic heritage of Saint Augustine, our eremitical roots, the particular circumstances arising from the intervention of the Apostolic See, and our status as a Mendicant Order (Const. 4). These are four different roots that come down to us through history to sustain and nourish the same body: the Order of Saint Augustine.
How do we now live this identity of ours? What do we do have to do? Viewed in terms of doing something or not doing anything, is not the best way to pose the question.
It is, rather, a question of yearning. Yearning for communion of life, experienced in such fullness that it makes us feel we are one soul. The yearning, because of which, our vocation, our treasure, the pearl of great price for which we have left everything, brings us to share our goods and our talents. The yearning of prayer and work that give rise to the happiness of spiritual friendship which is deep, founded on the presence of Christ in one’s brother. The yearning which leads each person to think of his brother before he thinks of himself, to the extent of being willing to serve by enlivening, directing, presiding, and even, and why not, correcting; putting the common good ahead of everything else, that is to say: communion. The yearning that makes of differences of temperament, age, or ideology, no more than nuances of one common experience. Communion such as this will illumine our inner person to the point that he will radiate the light of the Gospel in every type of work and apostolic commitment. There will be no barriers of language, no obstacles that get in his way.
It is a question of really wanting this communion. Of really wanting a personal depth, arrived at in prayer, study and reflection, done in the intimacy of the heart, that changes, without setting out to do so, the person committed to it into a master of interiority. A depth that blossoms in the service of the Gospel; a depth that seeks as a natural place, the common home of brothers.
It’s time to desire. A desire for communion in the Order that will allow us to strengthen the bonds with each and every brother, going beyond differences; that will lead us to unite our strengths and energies, that will make difficult apostolates possible in a complex world. A collaboration that springs from the yearning for freedom, iinner freedom before traditions, routines or relationships; a freedom that is manifest in obedience to needs that are shared, a freedom that connects us to the proclamation of the Gospel alone.
It’s time to hope. To hope for service in the Church; for a continuous availability that will lead us to get the best out each person. Hope to be a prophetic sign in a world that shouts for peace and justice. Hope to live, not just for ourselves; to forget ourselves, to leave aside our focusing on ourselves and, in doing so, to recognize that we exist because of the Church and for the Church, that our life is the life of the Church which is at the service of the Kingdom of God. We can be confident then, beyond any doubt, that young people will come to share their lives with us, when the only thing that is offered to them is to lose their life for the Gospel.
Yearnings, hopes, desires, aspirations… Our Father Saint Augustine called it “restlessness”. Once again, like so many other times throughout history, the Apostolic See has spoken to us. His Holiness, Pope Francis, in the beautiful words he dedicated to us in his homily at the celebration that began the Chapter, affirmed: “What kinds of restlessness does this great and holy man ask us to awaken and to keep alive in our own existence? I am proposing three kinds: the restlessness of spiritual seeking, the restlessness of the encounter with God, the restlessness of love.” Read his words. “Augustine’s treasure is this very attitude: always going towards God, always going out towards the flock…. He was a man constantly stretched between these poles; never “privatizing” love… always journeying on! Always be on the way … Always be restless! And this is the peace of restlessness.”
The Church requires “restlessness” of us. Let us be faithful to our Holy Father Augustine in following our Lord Jesus Christ. And may Our Mother of Good Counsel accompany us!