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LHermitage, a paradigm?



Spanish, Portuguese and Italian-speaking Brothers - Program Amanecer

24/11/2014: General House

23 Spanish, Portuguese and Italian-speaking Brothers completed the AMANECER ROMA 2014 program on Sunday 16   November.

 I wonder if the renovated house of the Hermitage can serve as a paradigm for interpreting, in some sense, what was happening to us on this journey towards our utopia of dawn in the twilight of our lives, in the light of everything the Lord allowed us to see in the 61 days our program lasted.

At the new Hermitage, the building erected by Saint Marcellin retains intact its exterior but all the interior was demolished and reconstructed, except for the chapel. Tons of debris were removed in order to make use of the same space but arranging the various areas so that they are now more bright, welcoming and functional. To do all this, they managed, in various places, to recover some of the original walls and floors, especially in the space called Champagnat: the chamber our saintly Founder occupied and the room of the first community. It is moving to tread on the same two hundred year old planks he trod and see the bare wall he saw for 16 years. The interior courtyard called after Saint Joseph was remodeled with a wide and elegant ceiling, making it a very welcoming space. The interior of the “Rocher” building was completely transformed. The old house, “Le Moulin,” was completely destroyed and replaced by an ample and modern building full of light. 

 In the new Hermitage there is more light, more welcoming spaces but without losing the essential and the perpetual: the spiritual energy of Champagnat and our first Brothers, faithfully reflected in the Brothers and Lay persons who make up the actual community. 

The clear, murmuring and dancing waters of the Gier continue flowing. In connection with this, our good Br Benito told us in one of his many and profound reflections: our lives should be rivers which carry much life.

 In our Amanecer program, we learned something of what Teilhard wrote, talking of his old age: “Oh God, grant me to believe that it was you who was painfully separating each and every one of the fibres of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my essence and to carry me with you.” This is pure realism.

  At our age, we accept the demolition of many things, as in the Champagnat building of the Hermitage, because now there is not much cause to think of grandiose personal futures. Our credential of retirement does not have an expiry date. But we are undertaking, like Abraham, a journey towards the new land of our old age where we are given the security of a new fruitfulness. On leaving Haran, he had excellent lands for cultivation and much wealth but he had no sons: descendants. But the instruction to leave his land and go to the land he would be shown was accompanied by the promise that he would have descendants. And Abraham set out following in the dark the call of God but always trusting in the promise of fertility. And we are promised the same: we journey towards the new land of old age but that does not mean, in itself, that our fruitfulness is finished.  Our essence, of which Teilhard speaks, is to bear fruit always: even in our old age. 

A true evangelist never retires. The evangelizing style of our life has to be today, more than ever, that of Mary: she was always evangelizing while remaining in the background. Always proactive but never in the foreground. She always left that to her Son. It is up to us to evangelize, above all, with our serene presence, smiling and prayerful in the apostolic activities of our Brothers.

Like the interior of Saint Marcellin’s building at the Hermitage, we accept that our senses are deteriorating with advancing age but our interiority can always grow in light, serenity, joy and peace. We can, if we trust in the Lord of Life, be rainbows which announce better times. We can fill our eyes with hope so that those who see us see a future in our eyes. We can act so that the future may hold our eyes. We can succeed in making a tent the heart of our future, as our Br Emili proposes. A tent that externally is being dismantled but which internally is letting itself be moved towards new horizons marked by a compassionate and creative solidarity, a brotherhood which demonstrates that being Brother is the best way of being, and a contemplation which penetrates every situation with the eyes of God and from that interprets it in endeavouring to transform it.

 Gratitude is the memory of the heart. Thanks to the General Council which organizes these courses of ongoing formation. Thanks to our Provinces which give us this time of grace. Thanks to our Bros Landelino Ortego and José Kremmer Feix who display amiability, delicacy and efficiency as directors of the Amanecer program. Thanks to Eva López, Chema Pérez-Soba,  Marianist Fr Antonio Gascón and Bros Juan Moral, Ramón Benzeny, Carlos Huidobro, Xavier Barceló, Emili Turú, Ernesto Sánchez, José María Soteras, Ernesto Tendero, Teófilo Minga and José María Ferre. They all gave us unique points for tracing our journey towards the utopia of dawn in the twilight of our lives.

Br José Contreras Landeros.

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