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Marist Calendar - September

Eight congregations in La Salle - Rome - September 2012


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12/10/2012: Italy


Monday, September 10th: we continued with the rest of module 1: Professor Nuria Calduch addressed us on “Brotherhood in the Old Testament.” It involved the presentation on Gn.4:1-16, the episode of Cain and Abel, and the analysis of this piece, concluding in two important questions: "What have you done to your brother?” (Gn.4:9) and "Am I ​​my brother's keeper?" (Gn.4:9). Based on these two concerns, Sr Nuria concluded that our fraternal bonds must be based on true love and lived concretely. She also emphasized the divine election of the Jewish people. She drew our attention to see our own history in the story of Cain and Abel.

The afternoon was spent in "lectio divina" in light of all that had been expressed about brotherhood in the Bible. The prayer and the liturgy of the day was organized and hosted by the English group.

Tuesday, September 11th: Professor Nuria Calduch continued with the theme of biblical fellowship. Through the perspective of fraternity as found in the New Testament, she began with the parable of the last judgment (Mt.25:31-46), and concluded with the example of the first Christian community in Acts 2:42-47. This presentation of the day demonstrated how distinctive is this true brotherhood of faith, prayer (around the Eucharist), the division of property according to the needs of each member of the group, good witness (Martyria),  service (diakonia), and communion (koinonia).  Nuria presented the many challenges that exist in these teachings.

The afternoon was marked by two sessions: group work and the communal presentation on the Brothers of the Christian Schools (La Salle), the history of their foundation and the current state of their Institute. During evening prayer, a moment of silence was observed in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks of the Twin Towers in New York of September 11, 2001.

Wednesday, Sept. 12th, was marked by the approach from the perspective of the theology of religious life and the ecclesiology of communion, through the great lecture and skill of Brother Sean Sammon FMS. After, the French language group led us in prayer for the feast of the Holy Name of Mary; we spent time preparing ourselves to deal with the issue that we would undertake: the identity of the Brother in the Church and the world today. Brother Sean Sammon gave us a summary of what we are living today in a time of transition after Vatican II, giving us the opportunity to live an authentic renewal of our lives and our Institutes.

Thursday, Sept. 13thwas marked by the approach from the theology of religious life and the ecclesiology of communion. After the morning break, it was the turn of three new fraternity movements in the Church telling us about their foundations, their life, their charism, etc.

●      The Brotherhood of Chemin Neuf was represented by Brother Pierre CURRAIZE on life in community with his brothers and sisters;

●      Brother Michel-Marie, on behalf of the Monastic Fraternity of Jerusalem.

●      Gianni LABELLA, on behalf of the San Egidio community.

After the concluding presentation of Brother Sean Sammon, the Brothers of Christian Instruction of Ploermel presented their founding charism and life. Before evening prayer, Brother Alfonso and other team members gave us the details and the guidelines for the pilgrimage to Assisi, the birth place of St. Francis and St. Claire.

Friday, September 14th, the Feast of the Holy Cross and Saturday the 15th, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows were marked with the pilgrimage to Assisi.

Saturday, September 15th, was the logical consequence of the Friday the village spiritual St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare. All spent time in the chapel Citadella for a period of personal meditation. Indeed, continuing the experience, we began the morning with the prayer on the Psalms modeled on that of St. Francis. We continued after breakfast visiting different places as pilgrims in Assisi. It was an experience of true joy for us brothers.

Module 1, Focus on Brotherhood, "could not culminate in a better way. For many of us, it was not the first visit to the land of Francis and Clare, but this was the first time that we walked in pilgrim fellowship with the brothers of our eight congregations. Before leaving we gathered to praise God with the Canticle of the Creatures, accepting that our “sister rain” accompanied us throughout our first day.

Friar Benedict, a Capuchin, joined our group to help us enter the Franciscan spirit. Even in Assisi, he addressed us in sincerity through which we could imagine the difficulties facing the Franciscan community on its way to the identification with Francis radical directives.

Joining language groups, we experienced different routes through the city of Peace. We were imbued with his spirit, linking the saint's life with our own.

How could we not remember our own parents in the family home of Francis? How could we not be grateful for our own vocation, although for many of us, pain came before it turned into joy! We need to intercede for parents of today, for whom it is so difficult to consider a religious vocation to the Lord!

How could we not recall these women in the image of Claire who give witness to the strength needed to confront their adversities and to faithfully live the gospels in our Church while trying new paths!

How could we not be touched contemplating the tomb of François surrounded by his brothers, Rufin, Angelo, Masseo and Leon. Brothers in life and brothers in our sister death!

For some of us the first day ended with a night tour of the Great Basilica, in which there are more than 800 years this little man allowed himself to be lured into the brotherhood project inaugurated by Jesus.

At Assisi, we were not tourists but pilgrims!


Monday 17thWe initiated Module 2 of our Meeting.  It is entitled: "To Live and Celebrate Our Identity and Mission." The first four sessions of the day were presented by Brother Emili Turu, Superior General of the Marist Brothers.  He spoke from the perspective of the Spirituality of the Brother in a time of profound and rapid change that affects all aspects of our life – both our community life and our individual life - and for the first time in history, is affecting the entire planet.

With images such as the glass and water and the map and the territory we observe that in our world there are many people with a thirst for spirituality that hasn't been satisfied because the forms of religion that are offered are not meaningful.  They don't fulfill  adequately the yearning for a full life -  a yearning for the authentic presence of God as a profound human experience.

Today we speak about "Spiritual Intelligence" as a deep part of the personal connection with wisdom and even more the person.  We have to recognize this with an open attitude toward the eternal presence.

 In this moment of crisis Religious must respond with audacity, with new language and with contemplative prayer that can help to center the person and those around them to a God who does not want to be adored but to be lived.

Religious have a great challenge today to respond adequately to this new paradigm if they do not want to end by succumbing to the Tsunami of epochal change that is coming and that requires us to have courage and to adapt.   

The day ended with a presentation of the Marist Community.  It was dynamic and it was done with humor.  We had a rich spiritual experience of their founder: Marcelino Champagnat.

 Tuesday, 18th. The activities began with morning prayer outside in the Garden.  Each Brother was invited to pray in one of three places: The Grotto of the Virgin, the place with the Bible or the place with Bread and Wine.  It was a time of silence and contemplation.

 Once again we had a presentation in the Conference Room.  Our speaker was  Brother Jose Ignacio Carmona, Superior General of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.  He spoke on the personal and community dimensions of the Brother's life.  He reflected on ""The treasure of Fraternal Life in Community", the need for healthy and mature human relations and the challenge of community leadership.

The day ended with a prayer focused on the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman.  We shared in small language groups and then gave thanks for all the blessings received from God during the day. 

Wednesday 19th . Early in the morning we noticed the humid Roman fall is right here. The Brothers of OurLady of Mercy invited us to go to the core of their spirituality through a beautiful morning prayer.

Brother Antonio Botana FSC won over us with the sharing mission theme throughout two images: ecosystem and dinner table in order to move us into an ecclesiology of communion. Lay Marist Ana  - by videoconference - communicated her experience in sharing mission and spirituality with the Marist Brothers. The impact became quite clear: sharingmission is an essential element of Brothers identity. When the day was almost over, Charles, Desire and Marco share out their congregational story and animated our Eucharist.

Thursday 20th.Following the spirit of our meeting: All brothers. To live and celebrate our identity and mission. Morning prayer was animated by the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Their General Superior, Brother Philip Pinto, who was born in India, spoke to us about ‘Being Brothers, for whom?’ He, on several occasions, reminded us to take Jesus seriously in our hearts. He urged us to be faithful to the signs of the times and to the charismas of our Founders. He used powerful images to help us think on our future and whom to serve. During the afternoon session we shared our thoughts and feelings about his presentation.

We finished the day with the Eucharist. Mons Joseph Tobin, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Religious life and apostolic institutes presided over the mass. During his homily he quoted Saint Agustin’s statement: “Before you I am your bishop. Among you I am your brother”. During the offertory, some participants representing our eight congregations offered a symbol of the presence of the Brothers among the poor people all over the World.


The presenter for the theme was Bro. Alvaro Rodriguez: the Superior General of Brothers of Christian Schools.

The day’s session started with a prayer given in different languages accompanied with a song for reflections. In his opening remarks brothers stated that we are all called by God right from the womb of our mothers to be prophets for the world—the world that needs our love. We are called to follow the footsteps of the prophets. Vita Consecrata presents to us Prophet Elijah as a prophetic voice to speak for others—this too, is our calling. We need to be THE VOICE. Brother led us into reflecting the characteristics of a prophetic life. He talked of prophets of God revealed by Jesus, prophets for the ministry of the word, prophets of fraternity, of the poor and of the kingdom of God

Our communities should be models for the young people around us. Community should make visible God’s saving plan and be an arsenal of the dangerous memory of Jesus. The most important thing is a return to the gospel values.

Shared prophecy is not exclusive to us. The entire people of God are called to this sharing. We are prophets of nations—be brothers without borders and be available for mission works.

Brother ended his presentation by saying there should be islands of creativity in the congregations and we have to keep the hope alive for the young people and for the world.

The last session of the morning was spent on reflection and group work. The different groups then reported their sharing in the plenary assembly. The last activity of the day was a presentation by the Brothers of the Holy Family. They spoke about their foundation, ministry, and mission in different parts of the world.

Saturday 22nd.  Today we had the experience of returning to the roots of our fraternity. Rome gave us the opportunity  to go back in time and feel the spirit of the first Christian communities who  watered the first seeds of the Gospel by their own blood. We visited the catacombs of Saint Domitila, and we celebrated mass at the tombs of martyrs  Nereo and Achileo. During the offertory, each Brother presented a flower in memory of a martyr, saint or a deceased  member of the Congregation. These members have remained in our minds and hearts encouraging us to continue generating brotherhood by following the example of Jesus.   



Dear Brothers,

The word “Brother” has been used many times in the Inter-congregational Program that ends today -- a meeting, many participants tell me, that became more and more interesting and full of content as the days passed and the talks came one after the other, with practical activities in the language groups, which added knowledge and deepened the friendships among the participants. It could not have been otherwise, from the time that everything was conceived, designed, created, planned out and followed with great care and affection. The program was planned down to the smallest details, so that everything would fit as perfectly as possible.

For all of these, the word that spontaneously comes from my lips is “Thanks!”

Before anything else, we give thanks to the Spirit of Jesus, our Brother, who has inspired the program. If we go back to the beginnings of the initiative, we would be surprised to see how sometimes, the Spirit blows she wills and how She wants to. Indeed, it all began with the difficulties presented by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, in endorsing and publishing a document that the Superiors General of the Congregations of Brothers had presented. The publication of this document had been seen as timely, as a gesture of recognition by the official Church, of the importance of the life of the Religious-Brother, and its dedication in service to the ecclesial community. An ecclesial reality that has not been recognized, or at least not valued by many pastors of the Church and thus, by the people of God. It was this resistance that has united us to our Superiors, and has given us the opportunity to think together and thus, the idea of ​​this inter-congregational program was born.

While the idea came from a common concern of the Institutions of Brothers, it is nevertheless only due to the many people who have been excited about the project that it has been carried out and celebrated.

In thanking each of these people, however, we risk leaving out some names: to all of them, goes our sincere appreciation.

·         To those who have guided the day-to-day animation and organization of the various activities.

·         To those who have prepared and guided the reflections and the dialogue.

·         To all the people who made possible, these days of living together and the development of the program: translators, personnel of the Casa per Ferie, and the Brothers of the De La Salle Community.


Both the many brothers and lay people who were involved have shown that innate ideal of service in our lives and have spared no effort in offering this for the good of all.

In the welcome address, Brother Juan Andres Martos, Superior General of the Brothers of the Holy Family, had expressed a wish and said: “Just as today we begin a program with members of Brothers’ Institutions, I would wish that the next one would be among sister Institutions.” Doubtless, a first step toward that inter-congregational brotherhood we all want has been taken in this encounter, and now we need to continue along that path.

We all know the Gospel story of the Transfiguration (cf. Mt 17) and we know how it was an important moment in the journey of the community of the Apostles: “Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them up a high mountain and was transfigured before them, so that his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.” This vision produced an irrepressible happiness in the Apostles; Peter expresses it in these words: “Lord, it is good that we are here, if you want, we can set up three tents here: one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” We also know how the rest of the Gospel story continues: “... while coming down the mountain”. The lives of the three apostles ran their course, but this powerful experience that gave them the strength to continue and overcome the moments of the passion and death of the Master gave them also the strength to announce the resurrection.

Brothers, you who have participated in this inter-congregational program the meeting: the task of going down to the plains and bringing the seed to the other brothers of your congregations and their communities and to speak of the great religious family of Religious – Brothers also awaits you. To do this, you have been working this last week to prepare materials that may help facilitate the task. The program is not over though; it has just begun because, as they say, the result of an encounter is not seen in its celebration or in its development, but in the effects it produces. Jesus himself teaches us this when he says: “I have come to bring fire to the world, and how I wish it were already blazing!” (Lk 12: 49).That fire that the program has set in your hearts now has to be fire for the other brothers.

We know, too, what happens when you throw a stone into a pond: the ripples spread, spreading across the entire surface of the pond, this is the wish of all of us here: that the spirit of brotherhood of this program extend to our congregations of Brothers so that, together, we form a great family in the Church. Indeed, the word “Brother” leads directly to the concept of “family” and here we speak not only of each of our religious families, but of the great family of all those that we honor in carrying the name, Religious - Brothers.

•     A family whose members live the same religious consecration and the same ideal of brotherhood, even if there are different types because of particular charisms. A family of brothers called by Christ to show to all that brotherhood is feasible and that living together is not impossible, provided that they bring together the love of God and the service of others and where the ideal of their lives would always be that of “being brothers in Christ.” A family where real, free, quality, and authentic relationships can be lived, and where these relationships reflect the face of “God with us.”

•     A family whose specific contribution to the whole ecclesial community is to show, up to its ultimate consequences, that spirit of unity which Jesus asked the Father for the apostles and disciples: “Father, I pray not only for them but for all those who, through their words, will believe in me, that they may all be one, as you and I are one” (Jn 17: 21). A spirit of unity that, in a particular way, shows to men and women of this world that the love of Jesus is able to create bonds so strong that they can beat the divisive tendencies of individualism and selfishness. In physics, they speak of centripetal and centrifugal forces. The community life of the religious – brother, lived in all its intensity, shows that Jesus' love is the force that draws us all and unites us, just like the sun which draws and keeps the planets in our solar system, at the same time leaving them free to follow their orbits in space. These paths are, for each institution, the charism and spirituality marked by its founder.

We need to consider ourselves a family of sister institutions, and form such, and as a force undivided, to be in the service of the whole ecclesial community, actively involved in the latter’s life and mission, develops within it, the tasks and services according to the richness and diversity of gifts of which each institution has been given by the Spirit. The apostle Paul tells us very graphically: “And Jesus Himself made some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, in order to build up the body of Christ” (Eph . 4, 11). Thus, though some institutions are involved in education, others in health, others in various works charity and still others work in many varied apostolates, ... yet, all give testimony to the presence of Jesus in the world and in the lives of men. Lumen Gentium tells us this, using the image of the tree: “... This is the reason why, like a tree that spreads out splendidly and thrives in the Lord's field starting from a seed planted by God, they have developed various forms of communal and solitary life and a variety of families that increase the range of resources for the benefit of their members, and for the good of the entire Body of Christ. And it is these families that offer their members the benefits of a greater stability in the way of life, a teaching from experience on seeking perfection, a fraternal communion in the service of Christ and liberty strengthened by obedience, so that they can faithfully and assuredly live up to their profession and go forward with a joyful spirit on the path of charity “(LG 43).

Who among the Religious - Brothers does not recognize himself in these family traits? Will that day arrive when all of us Brothers’ congregations will find ourselves in that family of sister congregations? As I have said earlier, the program of this inter-congregational course, “The Identity and Mission of the Religious - Brother in the Church and in the World Today” represents a time of joint reflection and, moreover, is the beginning of a path towards mutual understanding and regard in esteem.

Lastly, two special remarks of gratitude are in order:

·         First, for the visit of Msgr. Joseph Tobin, Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life who, in presiding at the Eucharist on the 20th of this month, has expressed his personal interest and that of the the Congregation which he represents in the Institutions of Brothers, just as he has expressed, together with his appreciation, for this program

·         Second, our gratitude to the Claretianum which, through its Rector, Fr. Santiago Mª González Silva, cmf, has agreed to recognize this course, giving it academic recognition and validity, which honors us all. Thank you, Fr. Santiago and to the Superior General of the Claretians as well, Fr. José Abella, who wanted to preside over our closing Eucharist.

May Mary, Mother of the Family of Jesus, who gave her full obedience to God’s plan of salvation Mother of God, bring us all together as one and may her example of prayer, of family trust and quiet service be the icon for all of us to rejoice in bearing the title of Religious - Brother.

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