Monday 22 September 2014

FMA General Chapter 23: Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz on the Trinity and consecrated life

Extraordinary intervention by Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz at the Opening of the FMA General Chapter 23 this morning. He placed religious life within three parameters:

  1. the following of Christ
  2. the following of one's founder
  3. sensitivity to the times. 

He spoke of 'mental schemes' that are destructive of the gospel, of consecrated people running the risk of becoming something special. But the greatness of the Council was that it placed religious life within the church, within the people of God: not above, not below, but within. We are not a church made of up castes.

The church has also pointed out the Trinity as the model and source of consecrated life. Here we have to look, not only at each single person, but at the Trinity, at the one God, who is love. Too long we have regarded the Trinity as a difficult and arcane mystery of the faith. We have to learn to live from the Trinity. And we learn this from the Word made flesh, in weakness, and up to the point of death. And we have to ask ourselves: why did God make this kind of choice? Is it somehow linked to love? In what way?

We have to learn to take a fresh look at authority and obedience.

We have to look again also at celibacy. Celibacy cannot be something that keeps us away from people. Celibacy is not a distancing from people. Trinity brings us close to people. (Not too close, otherwise the natural laws will kick into action....)

There is a saying of Pope John Paul II that some people find difficult. The church is made up of two dimensions, charismatic and hierarchical, and they are not subordinated to each other. The Spirit speaks in both. Of course the Spirit will lead us, if we are in the charismatic, to submit to the hierarchical. Don Bosco, for example, did not take the permission of the hierarchy to begin his work for boys. But of course he eventually knew he had to ask for approval, to discover whether what he was doing era di Dio o semplicemente 'mio.'

So the theme of CASA is intimately linked to Trinity.

"If anyone loves me and keeps my commandments, my Father and I will come and make our home in him." The commandments are, of course, the commandment of love.

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