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To hear God where life is calling out



II Seminar of Religious Brothers of CLAR

07/05/2012: Brazil

The Latin American Conference of Religious (CLAR) organized the II Seminar of Religious Brothers from 22 to 24 March. The meeting was held in Manaos and involved the participation of many Marist Brothers. The theme was "Religious Brothers, identity and leadership". The general objective was to further reflection on the specific identity and mission of Religious Brothers in the Church and in Latin American and Caribbean society.

Below we reproduce the final message of those taking part in the seminar.

Called together by the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious, we have come from the most diverse places and national situations of the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean and from the various missions of the Religious Life.

Following up on the I Seminar in Lima (March 2009), we deepen our reflection on the specific identity and mission of Religious Brothers in the Church and in the societies of Latin America and the Caribbean. We are Brothers by vocation and mission; this is our experience and our conviction.

Primarily, we are beginning to grasp the understanding of the concrete REALITY in which we live: the Region of Amazonía which is a concrete image of the situation where life is crying out and where our Religious Life sees it ideals taking shape. Thus, we have a global view of situation of this region, the countries that comprise it, the diversity of its peoples, its ethnic groups, its visions.

The Region of Amazonía has passed from being a forgotten place in the international concert to becoming the “main square” of the interests of the world community. Just as the original populations of the Amazon worthily defend their territory, we place ourselves at their side, asking ourselves: how is the Religious Life capable of defending endangered life and shouting out its urgency in this natural zone of the planet, so as to turn it into the seed of new life for Latin America and the Caribbean?

We share then in groups our experiences as Religious Brothers where life is crying out, sensing the reality, the sufferings and the yearnings of the people with whom we live.

In the same context, we did a reflection on “being man, being woman: a socio-anthropological analysis”. This allowed us to look at ourselves and think about the attitudes and contributions of our lives, as men, in the real world in which we live. So masculinity becomes the most precious gift God gives us to serve this world as brothers.

In the moment of ENLIGHTENMENT we encounter the person of Jesus, a Jesus Christ who is the model of integrated masculinity.

We value in the Lord a tender affection for children, he is the God-man who enters into dialogue with women, who shows concern for all and establishes close relationships with all, especially with his apostolic community. A Jesus of Nazareth opposed to the prevailing hegemony of the male of his time, with a special capacity for approaching people, and who signals the end of patriarchal power by washing the feet of his disciples. His life is not manifested in relationships of power but of service, giving leadership new characteristics: inspiring, inviting, sharing, showing itself weak at times, avoiding the leading role, letting its ability become evident, offering itself to the Kingdom, living celibacy as integration, expressing faith in the God who manifests himself in the little and the weak, and who was already announced by the Prophets. Especially enlightening is the counsel of Jesus: “Do not let anyone call you Master, because you are all brothers” (Mt 23: 8).

Enlightened and enchanted by this identity of Jesus, we ask ourselves: how much and how have we advanced as Brothers in the reconstruction of our masculinity and our being Brothers? and what is lacking to us to reconstruct our masculinity in accord with that of our brother Jesus?

We are conscious of our advances: more openness to and acceptance of the laity who share our spiritualities and missions; a greater availability, sensitivity and tolerance in our own religious communities; better relationships with women, children and youth; a greater acceptance of our failings and weaknesses, and also a better understanding of the figure of Jesus: more merciful, more approachable and more human. We are also conscious of the values that we are in need of: a greater sensibility in our fraternal relations and in our human and daily gestures of affection and concern; a deeper acquaintance with the person of Jesus; and more humility for understanding   persons and their experiences and situations.

The leadership of Jesus offers a challenge to our poor attempts at leadership; the preference of Jesus for the poorest questions our confused preferences; the use Jesus makes of power denounces our power quotas: “The one who wants to be greatest must be the servant of all” (Mt 23: 11). For this reason, today we need to ask ourselves: As Brothers, to whom, for what and for whom do we surrender our lives?

Conscious of our proper mission as Brothers in Latin America and the Caribbean, we wish to proclaim that our commitments are firmly rooted in Jesus of Nazareth, this person, this brother of ours on whom we seek to center our lives. To do so, we commit ourselves:

* In our communities of Religious Life, to exercise leadership as Brothers, especially in service, and to promote much more human and fraternal communities.

* In our eclesial mission, to form new types of leadership in the mission of the Church, favouring greater levels of participation, and moving towards a new way of relating with others, encouraging a more fraternal Church.

* In our social mission, to find responses of presence and support in the face of situations of conflict, and to be witnesses to a new form of relationship: the brotherhood proper to our vocation.

To Jesus, Who enlightens us,
we present our dreams of a new world,
a new Latin America and Caribbean and a new Region of Amazonía,
where brotherhood among all and with the cosmos in which we live
may be a sign of the Kingdom which Jesus is presenting to us.
May Our Lady of Aparecida continue to direct our pilgrimage as Brothers.

Manaus, 24 March 2012

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