|Salesian Brothers from CRESCO at the Meeting of Young Consecrated Persons, Rome, September 2015|
The long-awaited document on the Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church was released yesterday. I am still trying to locate a digital copy - though someone in the house has promised me a hard copy.
My first impression of the news item below: it stresses what the religious brother 'says' to the world: it is a vocation that is characterized by "a profound sensibility for all that damages the dignity" of the least, the oppressed, the abandoned.
It goes on to mention the "open question" of authority in mixed religious congregations like ours, and says that Carballo has said that they would ask the Pope to appoint an ad hoc commission to study the matter. Braz seems to have said the other day that the Pope has decided to set up this kind of commission.
Pubblicato il documento "Identità e missione del fratello religioso nella Chiesa" realizzato dalla Congregazione per gli Istituti di vita consacrata e le Società di vita apostolica. Ampio spazio al riconoscimento di una vocazione che si caratterizza per "una profonda sensibilità per tutto ciò che lede la dignità" dei più piccoli, degli oppressi e degli abbandonati. Resta aperta la questione realtiva alla diversa dignità ecclesiale tra religiosi sacerdoti e fratelli all'interno degli Istituti misti, con la possibilità di eleggere un superiore tra le fila dei membri laici.
But somewhere down the line, it does note that what is essential to the religious brother is his being a consecrated person - 'Inoltre il documento, sulla scorta dell’esortazione apostolica “Vita Consecrata”, individua l’essenziale della vita consacrata nella volontà di “conformarsi a Cristo nel suo modo di vivere, vergine, povero e obbediente”.' As VC indicates the essential, the core of consecrated life consists in the conformation to Christ in his way of living virginal, poor and obedient.
Chrys Saldanha said that the document has been long in the making. An earlier version had been sent to the Rector Major Chavez and his council - it had concentrated solely on the "brother" aspect of the religious brother, forgetting that his basic identity lies in his being a consecrated person. (And it's good to know that document drafts are circulated among people here in Rome at least, and among congregations.) Carballo, in fact, has thanked Benedict XVI for taking the initiative to begin work on this document in 2008. So it's been a good 7 years in the making!
Braz, in his press conference, stresses the dimension of fraternity. And perhaps this dimension is not all that marginal, when you realize the Trinitarian basis of consecrated life. We are all called to mirror the communion-love that is the Trinity, and fraternal life and fraternity, is one of the great ways of mirroring the Trinity. The religious brother is an icon of fraternity - and he is that within his call to follow Christ's concrete options to live poor, virginal and obedient.