As you all know, I have dedicated the last Salutatios to reflecting on the essential cores of our next General Chapter. I wrote on the chapter motto (“Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit”) and another on each of the first three nuclei we have chosen, inspired by the Memorial to Cardinal Tonti (“Constituting, Expanding and Propagating“, “The Piarist we need“, and “An irreplaceable ministry”). The letter dedicated to the fourth chapter’s nucleus, “the centrality of Jesus Christ in our lives” was lacking
After much reflection on the matter, I decided that it was best to make mine the reflection that has already been prepared by a group of chapter brothers on this important core, and to send it to all as a fraternal letter. The text will reach all communities, later on, with all the chapter documents being prepared. However, I wanted to turn it into a Salutatio because I think it is a text that very correctly sets out the importance of this challenge.
Therefore, this is the Salutatio that has given me less work to write. Thanks to the brothers who have worked on it and who help us understand some of the paths we can travel to grow in a consecrated life centered on Christ, for an integral, balanced, mystical and prophetic experience of our vocation. Good reading!
The joy and availability of poverty (Lk 2, 6-7). We are ‘Poor of the Mother of God’ and reflect our joy by joining our mother’s Magnificat from whom we feel true children. Recovering the simplicity of our life, which is visible in the places where we have our homes, our simple lifestyle and a testimony to austere life, helps our sense of affiliation. More than an option for the poor, we are called to be small who can identify with the little ones, poor with the poor, especially by lowering ourselves to the children who continue to call and summon us. This experience of poverty generates dynamisms of effective presence among those in need and the care of the Common House through concrete initiatives with the environment and the solidarity use of resources.
The witness of life and continuous formation (Lk 2, 34-35, 39-40). The most effective evangelizing dynamism is our own life’s testimony. We are called to be a ‘sign’, personally and communally, and to show authority by combining discourse and life. Gestures, words and works give us credit, even if they involve some social discomfort: the prophetic dimension of our vocation must manifest itself in the evangelical courage of our words and actions. Compassion, in the style of Jesus, with ourselves and with others, favors living consistently. A successful formation in the different personal dimensions will help us to grow on a path of integrity and wisdom (holiness) in the image of our holy founder, offering a clearer picture of Christ.
Discernment and self-knowledge (Lk 2, 48-52). Both experiences are a way of life open to God’s presence in us, in our history, and in reality. To live the dynamism of discernment is to be open to the Holy Spirit in our lives. Personal and community accompaniment, believing reading of reality, community-agreed decisions, and cordial closeness to the Word of God and the sacraments will be optimal paths of growth for us. The study of the writings and spiritual empathy with our founder will be of decisive help.
Consecrated for mission and a ministry of us (Lk 4, 17-21). We live our consecrated life and all its dimensions from the Piarist mission to which we have been called: to proclaim the Gospel to the little ones. We are in our environments the very memory of Christ. The experience of vows shows us available, united and focused on others; we offer a witness of gratuitousness by assuming the logic of grace, deploying our talents in the service of our own ministry: evangelizing children and young people, especially in situations of various poverty, through a liberating education (from ignorance and sin) that causes personal and social transformation. The novelty with which we face the mission and the success of putting each one according to his gifts will enable us to live a happy life.
We renew our mission and renew our vocational response (Lk 5, 4-5.10-11). We are invited by Jesus to continue to cast the nets ‘in his word’, leaving aside the tiredness and logic of our projects. A renewed mission will necessarily lead us to go out and populate the existential peripheries with our charism; updating our vocation, we renew our response. We must rediscover personal and community itineraries of renewal of our mission, taking into account the new reality of the communities (intergenerational, intercultural, ‘intervocational’, few members…) and the new personal reality (large number of aged or young people, unfinished training processes, vocational aspirations…).
We exercise mercy and promote the health of children/young people (Lk 7, 12-15). Our consecration has a healing dimension, we are chosen by Grace to be instruments of it. The more channels we provide for expressing and living mercy, the more our consecration becomes rooted and grows. This mercy we are called to express it, first of all, in our own home, with our brothers of community, being creative to live it every day. Likewise, the second recipients are the children, adolescents and young people we serve, this closeness and compassion manifested with words, gestures, works and prayer make that while death acts in us, life grows in others.
We are Piarists, religious and laity (Lk 8, 1-3). We have discovered that our charism belongs to the People of God, so we live convinced that the participation and experience of the laity at our side enriches and strengthens our consecrated life. Facilitating the encounter and sharing of life, spirituality and mission between the two vocations is a sign of the times we must consider, care for and foster for mutual enrichment, enabling a choral witness to the charism and fraternal correction. In this way, our communities are open to encounter and fraternal sharing with all those who approach our charism by making the Piarist Christian Community visible.
Mysticism and contemplation (Lk 9, 33b-35). To be consecrated is to be separated by a choice of love to make an aspect of God visible. Our baptism connects us to the experience of God’s love, source and goal of what we do. We increase and consolidate this experience by cultivating the intimate and personal relationship with God in prayer, in mediations (poor, brothers, church-community, sacraments, those who exercise the service of authority…) and in the contemplative gaze of a world full of the seeds of the Word. The daily listening and acceptance of the Word (in life and writing) gives us a mystical meaning in our action with which we update God’s love in all that is created.
Blessing and spiritual childhood (Lk 18, 15-17). Our consecrated life is framed in the blessing: with our words and our works, we speak well of God and those who are in contact with us also receive his blessing. Not only do we impart a blessing but also in our status as ‘little ones’ in spiritual life, we are recipients of it. For this reason, we welcome the recommendation of Our Holy Father Calasanz to become ‘like two-year-olds who do not know how to take two steps without transtabillating’, accompanying the little ones in prayer and lowering ourselves to give them light, making our prayer look like the experience of the little ones. They are still the headlights of our path.
The reality and will of God (Lk 22, 40b-42). We assume reality as coming from God’s hand, for which we constantly make the object of our meditation the Passion of the Lord, patiently asking to be granted the grace to live in hope all that happens. The Paschal Mystery is the event from which we interpret our world. We are therefore faithful to personal and community discernment, to become ministers of future hope, and we open ourselves to all people, experiences and realities that can offer us a clearer view of God’s will.
Eucharist and lifestyle (Lk 24, 29b-32). Our lives are nourished by the Paschal Mystery that we update daily in the Eucharist. Our celebrations are open to those who wish to feed themselves, enabling, as far as possible, the participation of colleagues, families and students, by living it with them or serving as priests to the people entrusted to us. The celebration of the Eucharist is for us an itinerary of life, incorporating in our day to day what we ritually celebrate: welcome, forgiveness, listening to the Word, offering our gifts, dedicated life, thanksgiving and sending-mission. In this way, we seek to live the experience of the Good Shepherd away from all kinds of clericalism.
Fraternal life and Virgin Mary (Act 1, 14). We make visible the Piarist fraternity in the cordial acceptance of our proposed lifestyle in our Constitutions. We update it by making our own the proposals of the general and provincial chapters. In this way, we build Pious Schools and grow in the mentality of Order. We grow our fraternal life in the welcome, affection and closeness to the other communities of the demarcation; we express it with the witness of the local community united to the communities of the Fraternity of the Pious Schools and feel body, united to the Virgin Mary, support and protection of our Order.
Following this journey, following the steps of Jesus, young people will come to us with the deep desire for eternal life (Luke 18:18ss) and it will be our opportunity to invite them to come and see. This mutual rapprochement between young people and religious will awaken in many the desire to live what they discover in us. Open to the new generations, we are moving towards a new ‘Pentecost of the Piarists’ that creates in us the communion necessary to carry forward with force the mission of the Piarists in the world, overcoming fears and barriers of all kinds.
Get a fraternal hug.
P. Pedro Aguado Sch. P.