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Lavalla 200> A heart without frontiers



Chronicle of the fifth week of formation in Camaldoli (June 6 - 12)

20/06/2016: Italy

I think that the memory of 18 April 1999, the date in which Pope John Paul II proclaimed Marcellin Champagnat a saint, is still alive in the eyes, the mind, but especially in the hearts of many Marists.

In scarves, bags and shirts... everywhere one could read: “a heart without borders.” 

To recover this spirit, 17 years later and in a small lost town in Toscana, a group of Lavalla200> celebrated the feast of Saint Marcellin on June 6: 23 hearts without borders and anxious to give their life to something beautiful and new.

The feast and the feasts (we celebrated the birthday of Miguel Ángel on June 5, of John Lavnge on June 7 and Veronica’s on June 11) stressed the unity that reigns among the five fraternities and in the whole group. They contributed to endure the week’s weather a bit better, characterized by rain and lightning, characterized by rain and lightning, and that did not invite one to sing “O Sole Mio”.

José Cristo Rey (a Claretian), Brother Joe McKee (Vicar General) and Jose María Pérez Soba (known as ‘Chema’ among friends) accompanied us this week.

José Cristo Rey reminded us that the times in which we live requires that we each insert ourselves in the context in which we live, respectfully and without pretensions of being the carriers or messengers of truth. Each has his own place, all rowing in the same direction, synchronizing movements to achieve the desired goal. A synergy for the Kingdom.

Brother Joe McKee came to visit us on Wednesday, June 8. His visit aimed at keeping a dialogue with each of us and answering the inevitable questions that naturally arise before an uncertain future. He could not meet with everyone and promised to return another day of the following week. Before returning to the general house to continue with the plenary session of the Council, he answered the questions that we posed him. 

We are aware that not everything is clear and well defined in this new adventure. The words of Pope Francis came to our minds:

Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness - God always brings newness -, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves today: Are we open to “God’s surprises”? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?

The meeting with Chema made us understand that we are a culture and that every cultural change affects our identity.

Speaking of our future communities, he helped us understand the importance of dialogue. However, not a dialogue based on a set of assimilated and implemented techniques. Dialogue is a form of life, he told us. In addition to those important ideas for the future of our communities, Chema transmitted his enthusiasm and joy of being a Marist and to be able live this grace with his family and with other fraternities.

We had Saturday and Sunday off to enjoy a well-deserved rest. Some took the opportunity to visit a typical place of Italy (Pisa, Assisi, La Verna ...), others preferred to stay home and walk through the woods that surround Camaldoli before facing the last stage preceding the departure to the Hermitage.

Brother Onorino Rota, San Martino a Monte, 13 June 2016.

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