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Preparing to listen to the Spirit (General Chapter May 18)

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The first step is listening
 
“A chapter is not just about the business of the congregation,” said Fr. José Ornelas Carvalho, superior general, “it is a time for us to listen ––  to each other and to the Spirit –– to determine the Lord’s plan for us.”
 
DSC 0025To prepare for that ‘listening” Fr. Carlos Luis Suárez Codorníu of Venezuela led chapter participants in a day of reflection. He began by focusing on Luke 24. In it, the Risen Lord reminds those who first encounter him to remember what they had been told, what the Lord has said to them.
 
Jesus was recognized when his words were remembered. The SCJ Constitutions echo this need to listen for and to the Spirit.
 
“We strive to be attentive to what the Spirit suggests to us through the Word of God received in the Church and through the events of life” states Cst. 57.
 
“Faithful to hearing the Word and sharing the Bread, we are invited to discover the person of Christ and the mystery of His Heart ever more deeply, and to proclaim His love which surpasses all understanding.” [Cst. 17]
 
But listening is only one step. A person can listen, and even hear, but still “we are free, we can always say ‘no.’” said Fr. Carlos.
 
Listening with a focus on “mercy” allows a person to open his eyes to others, to get away from simply seeking to fulfill his own needs and concerns. 
 
The Instrumentum Laboris [the working document of the chapter] is a way for chapter participants to listen to their confreres.
 
“We must journey together,” said Fr. Carlos. The congregation is called to be among people “at the service of the Good News,” states Cst. 33.  
 
Fr. Carlos concluded by noting Cst. 77: “We contemplate the love of Christ in the mysteries of His life and in the life of people. Nourished by our attachment to Him, we unite ourselves with His oblation for the salvation of the world.
 
“Thus, we are able to receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation in order to discover and truly know Christ the Lord, and understand the hope His call opens for us (Ephesians 1:17-18).

 

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Opening Mass
 
“We here represent all our brothers scattered throughout the world,” said Fr. Ornelas in his the homily of the chapter’s opening mass. “We feel like the congregation has limits in the number of its members, its means, it understanding, its availability, and in its consistency with gospel teaching.
 
“God has, nevertheless, granted us so many gifts: fraternity, intelligence, free and freeing service, and missionary generosity. These are the small loaves of bread and the fish we bring with us today,” he said, referring to the scripture passage of loaves and fishes.
 
DSC 0216Noting that the Church will soon celebrate Pentecost, Fr. Ornelas said that “We want to prepare for that feast now by opening our hearts to the advent of the Spirit. Among its seven gifts there are two whose dynamics seem at first contradictory: one is an energy or force toward convergence and unity and the other is toward divergence and diversification…”
 
“This chapter needs both of these two dimensions because with them alone will it be able to build the congregation and the Church.”
 
He concluded by reflecting on the Good Samaritan. “The way that the Samaritan took should be the way our chapter takes. The Samaritan, before all else, is an image of Jesus himself... The words found at the conclusion of the parable are particularly directed at us today: ‘go and do likewise.’
 
“This attitude toward mercy should become a mark and characteristic of the Dehonian and of Dehonians as a congregation.”

 

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