Thursday 9 April 2015

Archbishop Carballo's hints on formation at the International Congress for Formators, Rome

First day of the International Congress for Formators to the Consecrated Life, at Hotel Ergife Palace, Via Aurelia, Rome: the very first time such a congress is ever being organized, and the response has been overwhelming: 1,260 participants, with all the attendant logistical problems. But after all this, I must say the first day has gone very well. The overriding attitudes of the bishops and organizers has been wonderful: gentle, respectful, pleasant, not overbearing and know it all. I am also impressed with some of the methods adopted: we are seated at tables of about 10, according to language, but 'mixed' among different congregations of men and women. This is not only informal, but also enables periods of group reflection and sharing. There were three big talks today, by Cardinal Joao Braz, Prof. Michelina Tenace, and Fr Amedeo Cencini; but also plenty of moments for sharing, and even one for silent reflection - something I never thought I would see in a congress. And the whole congress is "wrapped" and "enveloped" in prayer, from the prayer vigil that I failed to attend last night, to the morning prayer and the concluding prayer of the day.

Archbishop Carballo, formerly the Superior General of the OFM, was fresh and to the point: he spoke of LISTENING, HOSPITALITY, COMMUNION, PASSIONE and DISCERNMENT as attitudes that are basic in formation and, I suppose, in formators.

Amazing to see him putting listening in the first place: listen more than talk, he said. And he even added: if you really want to listen to what your formees are saying, you have to learn to listen to yourself.

Hospitality, a distinguishing mark of formators. (Nothing so horrible as formators who are not welcoming. Nothing so eloquent as formators who are.) And again here: be conscious of your own fragility, so that you might recognize and accept the fragility of your formees.

Communion, but without dependence. We should be dependent on nobody except Christ. Pope Francis speaks of the spirituality of encounter.

Passion: innamorati di Cristo: "For me to live is Christ." And here: the gospel is the vademecum of formation, the supreme rule of life, before and above all our constitutions.

Discernment, rooted in a life of prayer. A contemplative intelligence that is able to see God in all and in everything.

A free and personal relationship with the Spirit and with others, especially with the formees. Love your formees; they are sacred, they are not numbers. Don't be afraid to demand.

There is a logic of the gift: there is nothing that we have not received; so freely we give.

And allow yourselves to be formed by God, and by your formees.

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