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Saint James of the Marches

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BROTHER SEÁN SAMMON

 

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To the Provincials and Councils of Oceania

19/05/2004: Australia

Brothers, if our 20th General Chapter convinced me of anything, it convinced me of the fact that religious life and our Institute in particular stands at a significant crossroads today. Why so? Because the risks and consequences are so great. Our Chapter members saw them as no less than a choice between life and death.

In solidarity with those Chapter members and their challenging Message, I must say that I believe more and more that the renewal for which we so long will come to our way of life and mission when we once again begin to be what we were meant to be: brothers, men of the Gospel, heralds of the mercy and Good News of Jesus Christ.

We all remember our 20th General Chapter’s theme well: Choose life! I do regret, however, that in putting forth the verse from Deuteronomy from which it is taken, we did not call attention to the verse that immediately precedes it. For that passage tells us that Yahweh will, first of all, circumcise our hearts. It is a powerful image, reminding us that like David the shepherd boy soon to be King of Israel, we must be hollowed out before God’s spirit can rush into us.

Brothers, with this agenda on the table I must say I can think of no better time to be alive, and to be alive in religious life and in our Institute. But the challenges ahead are great, the work formidable, and the sacrifices significant. Pay little attention to the prophets of doom that exist in our world, our Church, our Marist Institute. Some are already encouraging us to go gently into that good night. I offer another point of view: quite simply, if our Institute and its mission are not renewed we will have no one to blame but ourselves. For God has been working overtime to bring about the change of heart that is so necessary.

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