INSPIRING DECALOGUE FOR THE NEW CONSECRATED COMMUNITY FROM FRATELLI TUTTI
Compromise with the plurality
Or what is the same, with the novelty of the Spirit. This is the moment in which consecrated life should be educated in one of its clearer vitality principles to overcome inertia that is always present. It is still perceived the belief that determined cultures answer to the charismas, while others are incapable of doing it. Religious families’ decentralization -which is evident from the quantitative point of view- has not meant a real decentralization because we are still deeply Eurocentric in appreciation, legislation and organization. The fraternity announcement and testimony are definitely born from those who are able to accept themselves, recognize themselves and love themselves in their absolute difference. This is how the Pope expresses it, when he says that he wants an: “open fraternity, that allows to recognize, value and love every person beyond physical proximity and beyond the place in the universe where he/she has been born or lives” (FT1).
From words to facts
Fratelli tutti puts us in growing tension. It counts with a good analysis of reality and from it, it follows that we have learned to live without the fact that words change the attitudes. Thus, in the consecrated life frequently our words grazed the highest and most beautiful summits of appreciation and recognition of others. In addition, we run the risk of easing the tension to express the commitment we want to live. Fraternity, if it is real and evangelical, is not content with words, it demands a transformation commitment. The Pope, who is conscious about it, it demands it when he says that it is essential: “a new fraternity and social friendship dream that does not remain only in words” (FT 6).
To integrate life lessons
Because it is extremely present in the experience consumption making them disconnected episodes. Thus, we arrive to a vital tone which far from being intense, it is reduced to a succession of answers to stimulus that are received.
Consecrated people, as the rest of the people, are living a pandemic. However, it is perceived that turning the page becomes a stronger necessity than the passion for learning and integrating what the Spirit wants to teach us in the “current page,” called corona virus. Thus, Pope Francis says that today we can recognize that: “we have been fed by dreams of splendor and greatness and we have ended up eaten distraction, confinement and solitude; we have been fed up with connections and we have lost the flavor of fraternity.” (FT 33) We, consecrated people, must ask ourselves for the commitment to integrate with depth this new life experience that can absolutely “decaffeinate” fraternity. It would be a serious mistake that from the pandemic only did we have taken the isolation, protection and reality distance needs as principles. To stay in that disintegrated attitude even more, would affect the fraternal community, which needs relation, risk and spread.
To the service of the encounter
The encounter is the main core of the Gospel; of the relationship between God and the human being. It is the essence of the consecration. The encounter culture -deeply present in the teaching of Pope Francis- is presented as the interpretative key of his proposal for humanity and for Christian and consecrated people. To encounter with ourselves is much more than adapting ourselves or to endure. To encounter ourselves is to make possible roads for coexistence and synergy. It is to transform human relationships in an “even more”. The encounter is the place of the revelation and fraternity, it is the possibility of intuiting those principles that make a new life and that are inscribed in God’s heart. Indicated to the consecrated people community, it makes us realize that it is impossible to live the transforming experience of the Beatitudes, when everything is reduced to the pure appearance from external principles; or the functionality of tasks’ distribution; or the constant answer assuming and external organization without questions about the faith that supports each life. The Pope says: “The problem is that on a fraternity road, local and universal, can only be traversed by free spirits that are prepared to real encounters.” (FT 50) We -consecrated people- need to be disposed to real encounters, which means to be open to let ourselves to be transformed. Vocation for communitarian life in consecrated people means a qualification for the encounter, because this is explicit pedagogy from God: someone else’s life is then the teaching from which I allow myself to be affected for trying to answer anything that God wants. For this reason, the Pope states that is indispensable “the spirit’s freedom” -or what is the same- the full disposition for the discovering of God’s newness.
Transformation of the spirituality
The consecrated life communities are undoubtedly believing spaces of life. Places were people regularly pray. Every community is organized to express the commitment to be called by God. Today, the concern is whether these spaces are really expressing the lives of those who coexist in the fraternity. Here is where transformation necessity might be imposed. The distance between celebration and life; the distance between faith arguments and interests’ arguments; the gap between the great evangelical lines and the market praxis…provoke the necessity of a spiritual and charismatic revitalization.
We take to the prayer what we live, and we try to live those motions discovered in the fragility of the prayer. To transform believer and celebrating spaces of our communities demands that life must be shared even more. Probably, this demands to break some structures that were built in other moment. Today, people need to see the paradigm of what they look for. They need to “touch” that the communitarian spaces are as it is because effectively, it shares everything; everything is planned and set out in common, it has common horizons, share and compatible hopes and complicity in its search. These are the generative communities, that are able to create, recreate and convene. Of course, they do not accomplish it because of their strength or number, but because of their faith, because “life survives where there is a bond, communion, fraternity; and it is a life that is stronger than death when it is built upon real relationships and fidelity bonds” (FT 87).
Community in the state of mission
In the document “Fraternal life in community” (VFC 1994), of CIVCSVA expressed clearly up to what point the mission comprehension demands coherent interpretation from the community. It is the mission what convene the communion and the communion is what makes the mission possible. However, this identity is not sufficiently integrated in the internal processes of consecrated people. Frequently, very partial interpretations are perceived when the mission is reduced to determined tasks and the communion only to the coexistence in space and time. The new comprehension of the human being and the conscious that the community supports more on its vocational experience rather than in a goodwill exercise for sharing schedules, it expresses the need of an adequate comprehension for this era. Fratelli tutti awakes a key of a fraternity a little bit “forgotten” in the consecrated life and that is the community, which for being what it should be, it must really express love and it cannot be content with pure functionality. Thus, it is about a mentality change and vocational expression: “to love others for what they are moves us to look for the best for their lives. Only when we cultivate this form of relationships, we will make social friendships as something possible that does not exclude anybody and a fraternity open to everybody” (FT94). The call to the consecrated community is not an individual experience and the community in itself is an addition of individualities. “He called to those he wanted to call…” (Mc 3) and when he did it, he allowed them to love each other and make possible a love expression that does not exclude anybody and it really is a fraternity open to everybody. It is not a game of balance or consensus, but shared life that is expressed when the evangelical principles are operative principles of valuation, recognition and friendship.
If there is equity, there is community
Our culture is especially sensitive with the injustice that derives from the lack of equity. Thus, we need to express that we live in communities of equal people where the Lord and Master is only one. This is one of the greatest concerns for consecrated people today. I believe that asking the Spirit to light up us in each community is frequent: “What do we have to do?” I think that it is also very appropriate to do so. The mistake could be in searching within the margins of the community, in its external action or in the social manifestation of the charisma. It might be that the Spirit is waiting for us to formulate the answer in each community creating truly new spaces marked by equity and mutual recognition. Evidently, it is not about a transformation process that standardizes or homogenizes, because that would decline the communitarian gift, but of an evangelical atmosphere of recognition and acceptance of diversity. Because: “equality (…) is the result of a conscious and pedagogical cultivation of the fraternity. Those who are only able to be partners can only build closed worlds. What sense could have in the scheme the person who does not belong to the partners circle and arrives dreaming about a better life…?” (FT 104) The Pope, when talking about the economic situation that so much injustice holds, confirms the power of the “partners.” When we want to polish our intention of liberating the community of “non-evangelical ballast,” we must recognize that this is the moment to disintegrate determined “limited societies” of partners who pretend evangelical tension are really excluding others for making possible a real fraternity. If a fraternity life community wants to celebrate and show something is that it is opened to the possibility and the encounter. Closed worlds -where goods are celebrated excluding others from their participation and enjoyment- are the root of world injustice.
The essentiality of the community of fraternal life is in who convenes it. This is its strength. That call to weak people full of humanity becomes the communion into an unsuspected value experience. It is undoubtedly that consecrated life of our time belongs to the weakest structure of the society from the sociological and chronological point of view. This fact in itself does not provide any newness, however, it is necessary to remember it so it gives us clarity and discretion. We must pay attention to what we do, because we do not need to look for something quite different to the fraternal life just for reaching more people and recognition. Effectively, it is the community for those men and women who know that their own strength and merit lies in having been called. Therefore, they share naturally the fragility in which they often find themselves. For this reason, the community, which is a love mystery, has an evocative power of evangelical truth that cannot be hidden. That is why consecrated people find in the expression of their fragile shared life the transforming message for a society that needs unspent paradigms to be able to look up. Consecrated life has an unprecedented opportunity to offer freedom to the communitarian spaces, which from the poverty of its members can evoke another style of life that can be very realistic and transgressive in front of the unfair effectiveness of those who believe themselves to be strong (cf FT 109).
Community as a place for human fulfillment
We understand life in a holistic way. Basic needs are not only based on food, rest and health. It is part of the rights and duties of every person to have their highest aspiration and to be recognized for being who they are. Thus, the fraternal life community is revealed for our time as the privileged time of human realization. It is not enough to survive but rather to seek and create healthy spaces for each person to grow and to be happy. This, of course, requires accompaniment and quality coexistence to encourage the stimulus that comes with each person to give the best of himself. These principles are not new. It might be that now we are experiencing a certain reduction of expectations that consists of only having basic needs covered. The journey of a consecrated person, however, needs (the community) to be part of their deepest truth, their aspirations and identity. This answer of fidelity could and should be demanded when at the same time we are creatively able to offer spaces that can take care of these holistic dimensions of people. The community is not only a place of residence. It is the evangelical place that a person finds to be himself or herself. “A human and fraternal society is able to worry for ensuring an efficient and stable way in which all are accompanied in the journey of their lives, not only to guarantee their basic needs, but also to help them to give the best from themselves…” (FT110).
The communitarian life and its consequences
The communitarian life has serious consequences for most people. It is not enough with the mystic of the fraternity that celebrates what we all together experience. The very essentiality of the fraternity has a consignment and transformation force that goes beyond our own community. Thus, when sharing the Word, entering in the judgment of our own life, practicing the fraternal correction offered and received, the integration of spirituality in the succession of days…they all have direct consequences in the offering to the world. In the commitment with those who claim from the need. On the contrary, we would have opened asymptomatic communitarian spaces which their only reason to be would have been self-care and protection. “This helps us to see that it is necessary to promote not only a mystics of the fraternity, but also at the same time a more efficient world organization for helping solve urgent problems from those abandoned people who suffer and die in poor countries” (FT 165). The communitarian life is in itself the authentic commitment of belonging to the world. For this reason, the experience of shared life in its whole makes its members to be sent and transformed people to be in the middle of the world the voice of the voiceless; the hands that received those poor people who look for reception; the company of sick people; the recognition of women who are not recognize in their dignity or the compromise with children whose future has been stolen.
There is no community of fraternal life with a horizon reduced to four walls, it must always have opened its eyes (and door) to recognize the consignment to cooperate in the universal transformation.